Thursday 19 July 2018

Mandy Johnston

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Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her husband, former US president Bill Clinton and running mate Senator Tim Kaine, concedes defeat to Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

Women alone can't make equality 'happen' 

Tomorrow, for one day only, the world will turn on its head. Gender quotas go out the window, and women just take over. On Christmas Day, the burden of responsibility to recreate a scene befitting a Christmas TV commercial largely lies with the female of the species. Those hoping to live out their fantasies of festive cheer, bouncy dogs and good-humoured grandparents expect women to deliver their dreams. Men play but a small bit part. It's a stereotype I know but hey, that's what Christmas is all about!

'It turns out that love does not trump hate after all'. Photo: Getty Images

Hillary couldn't reach the glass ceiling, never mind shatter it 

On Tuesday evening we gathered inside the Jacob K Javits Convention Centre, a state-of-the-art enormous edifice underneath a glass ceiling, on the banks of the Hudson River. Supporters and scribes arrived with nervous anticipation to watch Hillary Rodham Clinton be declared the first female president of the United States of America. The script did not go to plan. Instead of attending a celebration, we were about to witness the greatest political certainty of all American presidential elections sink to oblivion.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Public Expenditure Photo: Tom Burke

Fresh leadership needed for battles with Europe 

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a press conference. A media briefing that would deliver a ruling so fundamental to the sovereignty of Ireland's economic independence that the Irish government decided it required careful consideration and meticulous reaction. Many tireless hours were spent assiduously assessing every possible scenario to ensure that no matter what the outcome of the ruling, the Irish Government would be ready to save all the people of the kingdom.

In the Labour Party's proposed advertisement, Gerry Adams (pictured) was depicted in marital union with Micheal Martin Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Labour's lesson on the risks and rewards of political advertising 

Political campaign advertising in Ireland seldom inspires. In this country, the use of paid advertising to influence the debate - and ultimately voters - is confined largely to general election campaigns. Unlike America, we are spared the scourge of 'always-on' campaigning, where some advertising agencies solely work in the political field. Political advertising in Ireland is mostly created by advertising executives who are used to designing campaigns with consumers in mind, not voters. There is a huge difference.

A participant takes part in Sydney's colourful gay Mardi Gras. 'It is only right that more people feel comfortable in defining their sexuality'

Vive la difference - but it all does get a bit confusing... 

The wonderfully powerful thing about language is that it is effervescent and ever expanding. From time to time, word combinations evolve in the language which clearly encapsulate the zeitgeist, thus affording us a short cut to what it is we are trying to say. For instance when we first heard the word, 'omni-shambles' or 'photo bombing', new incarnations of old words made perfect sense. Other words and phrases transpire but instead of providing convenience - only lead to enhance the confusion, like 'conscious uncoupling' for example.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

How to spin and win in the great political lotto 

As the lotto approaches €6 million this weekend, Enda Kenny should contemplate taking a trip to his local shop to have a flutter, because his luck is in, it seems. If we are to believe his interpretation of the Fennelly Commission Interim Report, that is. The Taoiseach says he had absolutely nothing to do with the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan's retirement and, if he did, he didn't mean to. So it's really quite possible that our Taoiseach could hit the lotto jackpot by merely turning up at the shop and smacking his head on the lotto machine.

'The well-meaning deputy’s comment that Enda Kenny is as durable as a Duracell bunny serves no political purpose. It does, however, give an insight into the way those close to the Taoiseach are thinking'

A leader's end should be in sight but out of reach 

Espousing the longevity of a party leader's tenure is a tricky business, as chief whip Paul Kehoe has learned to his cost. The well-meaning deputy's comment that Enda Kenny is as durable as a Duracell bunny serves no political purpose. It does, however, give an insight into the way those close to the Taoiseach are thinking. Deputy Kehoe will not be thanked by the party hierarchy for his musings. Fine Gael's single biggest challenge in these final months is to maintain control of the date of the general election; any development which upsets its equilibrium is unwelcome in the extreme.

Cartoon by Niall O Loughlin

Instead of the in-fighting, Fianna Fáil should reach out 

As delegates congregate this weekend at the 76th Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in the RDS, they must decide on a convincing way forward for the party, which will address not only their future but also their past. To the uninitiated, a Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis must seem like attending a Scientologists' convention. For the "true believers" inside the conference, the set piece is perfectly logical, but to the non-believers on the outside, it makes no sense at all.

Last night we tuned into the much-publicised first installment of RTE's 'Charlie'. It was a lavish production, befitting the man's lifestyle and exalted opinion of himself.

RTE's 'Charlie' was deja vu all over again 

It is an ultimate irony that politicians who are obsessed with defining their own legacy are eventually destroyed by their venal fixation to be loved by those that they govern. Last night, we tuned in to the much-publicised first instalment of RTE's 'Charlie", written by Colin Teevan. It was a lavish production, befitting the man's lifestyle and exalted opinion of himself. The production values of 'Charlie' are more the 'Downton Abbey' that he aspired to than the 'Fair City' that he came from.

Filming for the new Star Wars film took place on Skellig Michael this week. Photo: PA

Ireland Inc. still a thousand miles from a Cead Mile Failte 

For years I have spent my summer holidays in the largely unknown town land of Lohar. It is neatly nestled in the mountains overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Ring of Kerry between Derrynane and Waterville. In terms of amenities, Lohar consists of a church…… and that is pretty much it. On paper, as a destination for tourists, it has nothing, and yet it has something that is out of this world. A natural asset that the World Heritage Committee describe as being of "exceptional universal value". Its stunning views of the Skellig Islands make its rolling majestic coastline a spectacular...

Micheal Martin has 18 months to prepare Fianna Fail for the next election

Could Fianna Fail and Fine Gael survive a Grand Coalition? 

SURVIVAL of the fittest is often misconstrued as meaning the survival of the most aggressive. But the Darwinian term used to depict ruthless competition can mean different things depending on one's perspective, for example to a biologist the term means whatever leads to reproductive success. Politics has its own science, but unlike physics and chemistry all formulas are subject to one common unquantifiable variant: Events, dear boy, events.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

Martin needs to find his inner Churchill to rouse flatlining FF 

As the remaining battle-weary soldiers of destiny gather this weekend in Killarney for the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis, many of the delegates must be wondering, what's the point? After the crippling election in 2011 which saw the party lose a monumental 51 seats, dropping to 17.4pc of the national vote, many political observers thought there was no way back and the brand was irrevocably tarnished to the extent that it would have been kinder to kill it than to simply allow it fade to a slow, ignominious death.