Martina Devlin: 'The Right Honourable Member for Cloud Cuckoo Land, rampantly over-optimistic about her deal-making abilities, has reached...
Let's talk about smoking guns. The phrase originates in a Sherlock Holmes story in which a recently...
Let's talk about smoking guns. The phrase originates in a Sherlock Holmes story in which a recently...
Bloody Sunday is a wound that has never healed, the symbol of a society damaged not just by the...
Does Karen Bradley keep a diary? If she does, I'm convinced she makes Bridget Jones-style entries.
Geroge Bernard Shaw wrote a play called 'Heartbreak House' after WWI expressing his...
When I got my first driving licence at 21, it felt like a toehold on the adult world. I remember...
Imagine having to pass protesters on your way into court, where a judge is ready to deal with your divorce application, because some people believe marriage ought to be "till death us do part".
Writing about 'Gulliver's Travels' to his friend Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift described his chief aim in composing the famous satire as being "to vex the world rather than divert it". The same could be said of Brexit.
As any sailor will confirm, there isn't one among us with the power to change the wind's direction. But we can trim our sails to take advantage of the way in which the breeze is blowing, or make preparations during still periods to be ready for favourable gusts.
Here's the problem. As individuals we can give up our aul' sins: instead, make greater efforts to recycle, insulate our houses, install solar panels, choose public transport and/or bicycles, stop buying single-use plastics and heavily packaged goods. You know the drill. But such changes in...
This has been an important year in Ireland - one in which women asserted themselves, stood up and were counted. And how appropriate for it to happen in the centenary of when some women were first eligible to vote or run for parliament.
We're rarely apart, my Android phone and me. I use it to send emails and text messages - both...
Can you feel the nudge? Throats clearing, elbows knocked against ours? Bankers are saying...
The inspirational deaf-blind activist Helen Keller said the only thing worse than being blind was having sight but no vision. Leadership requires...
Some guidelines for young women who may encounter Irish rugby international stars letting off steam in a social setting appear to be in order.
There are no small lives. To others, they may seem inconsequential, but to the people living through them - cultivating hopes, negotiating reality - their lives are as significant as any that teem with...
Come back Stormont, all is forgiven. Compared with the fog and obfuscation at Westminster, relentless Tory infighting and the writhing of a shambolic political system, quarrels in the Northern Assembly look petty. Nothing was ripped that can't be sewn up again.
A massive dent has been knocked in the Government's halo - pushed out of shape by revelations about ballooning costs at the new National Children's Hospital. As loudly as ministers sing from the same hymn sheet about public pay prudence, their words are drowned out by stupendous overruns on a...
Troops with submachine guns are prominent along busy intersections at the approach to a string of European Commission buildings in Brussels. Uniformed soldiers patrolling the streets aren't necessarily the most desirable way to guarantee the peace in modern states - that's a police force's role - but...
'Hard Border Soft Border NO BORDER' reads the sign on the outskirts of Aughnacloy, a village where Tyrone meets Monaghan, the Irish Republic meets Northern Ireland, and the European Union will meet an area outside the EU single market in just two months' time.
Brexiteers said it would never happen. Some of them laughed at us for being silly sausages even to think such a thing was possible. But a disagreeable vision loomed into our sightlines this week - a hard Border on the island of Ireland.
Welcome to the world of magical thinking. Otherwise known as the only common ground on both sides of the stay-or-go Brexit gulf. And what a chasm it is.
Keep your voice down - if you have to say the words, whisper them. There's something suspiciously like a Celtic dot-dot-dot (that stripy feline whose name we dare not mention) stalking through the Irish economy.
I don't buy the sight of them snuggling up together. "You'll love each other," mutual friends encourage the relationship. "You have so much in common." But when they look into one another's eyes, realisation dawns that they can't possibly share a slice of cake, let alone a political strategy.
Theresa May has no need to wait until the Ides of March before checking for daggers in her ribs because she has a target pinned to her back already. But this woman has more lives than Larry the Downing Street cat.
Five-and-a-half months ago, the people voted by two to one in favour of abortion reform - a decisive majority which cannot be misinterpreted. This week, a small group of men and women on the Oireachtas Health Committee appeared to be trying to undermine that result.
Suffragette, human rights campaigner and nationalist, Irish feminist Hanna Sheehy Skeffington's life played out as a series of battles against injustice.
Lawyers acting for families who say their children suffered significant health problems following a controversial swine flu vaccine are due in court next month as part an effort to force the State to release crucial documents.
An entire gender has been belittled, not just in recent weeks but continuously, over time. Since the Irish State was founded, in fact, and in the run-up to its formation. Finally, women and men are saying: enough.
I've just had a refreshing shower. There was rain overnight, but water didn't fall straight into my bathroom from the sky. It arrived through a pipe. Useful devices, pipes. They don't last forever, though. Irish Water says 1,000km of pipes need to be replaced by 2021.
A class warfare portrayal of events is the least convincing element to the Jobstown protest and subsequent court case. What happened there was not class warfare. I grew up in a working-class community where the values of decency and courtesy were prized - they are not the preserve of those born into privilege.
'PLEASE, sir, I want some more," says Oliver Twist, empty bowl in hand, addressing the workhouse master.
For decades, it has been a republican shibboleth. Sinn Féin campaigns for election to Westminster on an abstentionist manifesto, refusing to take its seats because its members will never swear an oath of allegiance to the British monarch.
A tidal wave of dismay and anger about the economic collapse swept Enda Kenny into office. No surprise there. But what proved unexpected during his tenure were his dealings with the Catholic hierarchy.
Behind the words spoken at Martin McGuinness's graveside, cogs were setting wheels in motion. Signals were sent during that oration delivered by Gerry Adams, both to Sinn Féin supporters and republican dissidents.
He did the unthinkable and made it acceptable - from toasting Queen Elizabeth to attending Armistice Day events for the World War I dead. When Martin McGuinness became convinced that armed resistance should be set aside in favour of negotiation and ultimately power-sharing, he carried his community with him. That's why his legacy is peace.
It's tempting to speculate that US President Donald Trump has promised to make space in his schedule for a trip to Ireland in the same spirit that he said he'd build a wall between the US and Mexico, forcing the Mexicans to pay for it.
That fall from grace, that evidence of human fallibility - it was the moment in time when the first crack spidered through the imposing edifice of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Various threads have begun to unravel in Irish life as one shameful episode after another is highlighted: from concerns about conditions in mother and baby homes run by nuns, to an intellectually challenged woman's 20 years of abuse in her foster home, with warning flags persistently ignored.
Bring on the deal-makers. Time to knuckle down to business. To set Stormont functioning again? That, too, but there are more pressing matters to address than a provincial parliament in Belfast - another strand of discussion needs to be opened.
The big beasts in the Northern Irish political jungle remain the DUP and Sinn Féin, both somewhat red in tooth and claw after a bruising election, and both claiming victory. But neither of them wants to see Stormont fold, so it's game on for power-sharing negotiations.
Everyone agrees that special arrangements are essential for the North post-Brexit. Well, nearly everyone - an election-footing DUP is too busy insulting every shade of nationalism to focus on Brexit, other than hug itself with glee that it's happening.
The King is dead, long live the King. Whoever he turns out to be. Not long live the Queen, incidentally. Odd, that not one woman appears to be a viable challenger to replace Enda Kenny as taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael.
Remember when An Garda Síochána was a term used with widespread respect? When Irish people were proud of their police force for upholding its end of the bargain between citizens and law-enforcers with honour?
It is outlawed in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales - but in Ireland, people pack flasks and sandwiches and turn up to watch live hare coursing as entertainment.
First, I want to share an image of young teenage boys at a small town middle school in upstate New York. This week, a pupil I know there described how groups of her male classmates were moving together through the corridors, wearing Trump caps or T-shirts and chanting: "Trump, Trump, Trump!"
Now is no time for slow learners in any of Northern Ireland's camps - the Brexit challenges are too pressing to allow for that. So, the number one lesson to emerge from Stormont's collapse is that while hardliners wear various guises, they can never be the future.
'Mr President, that's not appropriate," protested the CNN reporter trying to put a question to the pugnacious president-elect, as they engaged in a far-from-presidential shouting match during a news conference.
The wrong politician resigned yesterday: Arlene Foster should have stepped down rather than Martin McGuinness. But the day of reckoning for Stormont's obstinate First Minister has just edged considerably closer.
Nothing gives women a bad name like the cynical use of the woman-as-victim card. Arlene Foster has thrown down her misogyny claims as though conjuring an ace - in reality they turn her into a busted flush.
In 2017, I want not just to criticise but to admire occasionally. When something is worth appreciation, it ought to be recognised. Let me begin with the Angelus bell, which marks out a handful of quiet moments every day.
Cross-border initiatives make my heart sing. They do. My family was formed as a result of a cross-border initiative, after all, when my Tyrone father married my Limerick mother.
Ireland has put two women into the Áras. It shouldn't be beyond the capacity of sports bodies to add some women to their boards.
The "dead horse-centred, GPO-centred" version of events, as academic Lucy McDiarmid describes it, is how Ireland has tended to pass on the Easter Rising story to each successive generation.
Let me tell you about 1983, the year when prison officer Brian Stack was shot. That was the year when a car bomb exploded outside Harrods in London, killing six - three police officers and three civilians.
The Irish were once defined by their Catholicism. Indeed, the Constitution opens, "In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority..." with a special constitutional position assigned to the Catholic Church.
Our romance with property was over, we were told - the maelstrom of the financial collapse would transform the next generation into renters.
Here's something we need to talk about honestly. There is a danger that public sector pensions will bring this country to the brink of financial ruin again - not in the space of decades but within a handful of years.
Have we all got those hyperbolic reactions out of our systems by now? "America, how could you" and "this is a redneck win"? I hope so, because democracy threw up Donald Trump and democracy has an obligation to accept him as Potus, warts and all. Better still, let's try to learn from his win.
As A child, about this time every year, I'd go to the Big Smoke on a shopping trip with my mother. The highlight was lunch in a department store café, where a rudimentary form of automation operated.
You could be forgiven for imagining that corporate governance is an outlandish concept that crash-landed on Planet Sport in August, when the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) collided with Rio 2016.
It was 6pm and I was posting a birthday card in the GPO letterbox in Dublin's O'Connell Street, when an altercation between a guard and a mother caught my attention. Only one of the parties to this dispute was screaming about people minding their own business, using foul language and causing a scene. Clue: it wasn't the guard.
Lace curtain transparency doesn't work. When it comes to openness, all or nothing is needed - curtains drawn apart and windows unlatched.
I never thought it would come to this, but deep breath and here I go. I'm about to quote boom-to-bust taoiseach Brian Cowen on developers. Wait, no, I can't just introduce him off-the-cuff like that, I need to work up to it.
The most useful ground rule for running an organisation to high professional standards is a simple one - agree to nothing in private that would cause embarrassment if it became public knowledge. It's a principle which flies straight to the core of transparency.
Once the Rubicon is crossed there is no going back. Beyond that river lies the point of no return.
Truth can be twisted and suppressed, manipulated and buried. But it can never fundamentally be changed - and it has a habit of surfacing sooner or later.
When two arms of the State go head to head, inevitably it's damaging. Both can't be right. But it's difficult to know who to believe when opposing views are advanced, and public confidence is undermined by the conflict.
My father was a bus driver. So I know it's not an easy job, between shift work, a seven-day rota and the responsibility it carries - drivers hold people's lives between their hands.
She is an unsung hero of the Celtic Revival, her vision contributing to the birth of modern Ireland. In the years leading up to 1916, she fused creativity and politics in a pioneering fashion, devoting her work to the campaign for independence. Yet when the writer Alice Milligan's name is mentioned today, most people ask: "Alice who?"
Jarndyce and Jarndyce springs to mind at the vista of Apple's tax case going before the European Court of Justice. Yet go before the court it must.
Another day, another flavourless statement from Maynooth. It is remarkable how an institution as vibrant and effective as the Catholic Church during its 2,000-year history should become now so lost within a gilded labyrinth.
The keepers of the Olympic flame are exposing it to some unhealthy draughts, between allegations of doped athletes, crooked referees and unscrupulous ticket-touting. It's impossible to escape the conclusion that events at Rio 2016 are overshadowing the games and falling far short of the Olympic ideal.
When I was eight, I turned our garden shed into a cafe to raise money for the foreign missions. First up, I emptied the shed of spades, rakes and detritus.
No room at the inn for priesthood candidates if you're a woman, or a man who can't take a vow of celibacy - and move along please if you're a practising gay. What a chilly Christian family the Catholic Church has let itself become. No wonder there are only 55 trainee priests at Maynooth.
Roger Casement died 100 years ago today, "so tear up your mourning and hang up your brightest colours in his honour" - George Bernard Shaw's advice on the passing of towering figures.
It can happen anywhere, it can happen to anyone - that was the subtext to an odious attack in Normandy this week, in which an elderly priest was butchered at the altar as he celebrated Mass. The teenage fanatics who filmed themselves slaughtering him in the name of Allah have ratcheted up the chill factor in a war that is difficult to comprehend, let alone combat.
When an explanation keeps changing, and then changing some more, you can bet your bottom dollar that lies are being peddled. What began as spin to explain away the naked plagiarism in Melania Trump's speech becomes now, after a trail of rebuttals and deflections, an inability by Team Trump to engage with the truth.
Britain has a tradition of acting with ruthless efficiency towards its prime ministers who fail. Henry VIII's chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, was sent to the block after pursuing an unsuccessful royal marriage policy. His final appeal by letter - "Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy!" - fell on deaf ears and Cromwell's head ended up on a spike on London Bridge.
Mud all over the charity world. Wasn't that sector hosed off and put to rights? If only. And so deja vu unfolds yet again for a public whose trust continues to be not just abused but given the punchbag treatment.
A sense of common purpose has not been visible in the North since United Irishmen days - when Belfast was known for its radical ideas about social justice and democracy, and denounced by its rulers as a hotbed of sedition.
At 7am yesterday, as Britain's going-going-gone result became apparent, a text message pinged from my 19-year-old niece in England. "Do you know what happened to Grandma's birth certificate after she died? I'd like to apply for an Irish passport because I really don't want to class myself as British right now. I'd much rather be Irish and European than British and not European. I believe in the EU and want access to it."
Some important facts, such as motive and the killer's access to a gun, are not yet known about an idealistic British politician's murder - a woman who campaigned for her country to remain in the EU. Other key facts, such as her values, are in no doubt - that she believed in tolerance and inclusivity.
Women are waiting. We are being fobbed off, stalled and kept dangling. A United Nations body uses uncompromising language to rebuke our Government over Ireland's strict abortion law. And still we are left waiting.
Now and again, most of us chance a roll of the dice. Some of us do it metaphorically, others head for the bookies. But people with any sense take a punt only when they know failure - whether it involves a lost opportunity or a loss of face - will not mean catastrophe.
When teams of hitmen carry out public executions, it's clear that gangland crime is a problem for everybody in Irish life, rather than for the inner-city communities being terrorised by it.
When people around the world hear the word 'Ireland', what springs to mind? Chances are that the arts, culture and heritage - and well-known figures associated with them - dominate the list, because our creativity as a nation is one of our hallmarks.
We need to talk. Not shout, claim the high ground for our views, or seek to monsterise those with a different perspective. An honest and considered conversation about the 'A word' is overdue.
All day long, I had a sinking feeling that I might need to quote Enda Kenny's words back at him. I hoped I was wrong and that he'd remember his promise - it was given less than five months ago, after all.
Irish Water is sinking. It has collided with a Titanic-sized iceberg - an obstacle constructed from a complex mix of political opportunism and public distrust of the utility. A hole gapes beneath its waterline.
It remains one of the ironies of Roger Casement's foreshortened life that such a pioneering humanitarian should end up with his own human rights trampled. And by the same country whose reputation was enhanced by the work he carried out in its consular service.
It works in the Vatican, perhaps it's time to swing it into operation at Dáil Éireann. To elect a pope, cardinals are sealed into the Sistine Chapel where voting takes place twice a day, every morning and evening.
A few hours after the Sheriff Street gangland killing, I saw a guard stop a cyclist who flew through red lights - almost ramming a pedestrian. Two gardaí were standing nearby and the older one flagged him down at once to deliver a reprimand about respecting traffic signals. The chastened cyclist - young and male - proceeded on his way with caution.
The Irish flag is green, white and orange. Not green alone. So until now, the absence of any considered unionist engagement on what the Rising and its aftermath mean has been a regrettable omission. Even if we think we know what someone is going to say, it still matters to pay attention and consider their position.
It was the asterisk that alerted me - a minor symbol with major implications. Some years ago, I worked in a fairly demanding job where I was handed a monthly pay slip, with my name and an asterisk alongside it visible through a window in the envelope. After some months, I queried the significance of the tiny star.
Impulsively, joyously, a current of elation has taken hold of Dublin. Such a mood is impossible to choreograph - the centenary organisers were able to invite dignitaries, plot parades and organise Proclamation-reading ceremonies with precision. But they could not predict the level of engagement from the people.
We are a people for whom the past is as vivid as the present, even without the prompt of this centenary year which invites us to remember a group of extraordinary, idealistic men and women who altered the course of Irish history. But a race preoccupied by the past needs to learn from it.
The financial collapse was a lost opportunity to replenish the public housing stock, but a new opportunity has emerged with the return of stability. This is going to be a gulp moment for the Government, but it needs to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Is it nation time yet? Afraid not, it's still party time. That's why there isn't a whisper of a government being formed. And that's why we're hearing rhetoric and cant - a lot of self-serving blather - about party difficulties and grassroots resistance.
Let's start with positive news - water charges have passed the point of resuscitation and it's only a matter of time before they are declared officially dead. Some less happy news is that the swollen mega-quango known as Irish Water can't be dismantled without funnelling more money into its swamp-like belly.
Everything has been overturned - and what an uplifting vision it is. In capsizing the ship of State, the electorate has demonstrated its power - and regardless of parties floundering and politicians sinking, democracy in action remains a sight worth seeing.
If President Trump fails to become a reality, there is an opening for the Republican contender in a much smaller Republic where he has business interests. Here in Ireland, he could reinvent himself as a political strategist.
In an ideal world there would be no unwanted pregnancies - every baby would be welcomed by two loving parents. Take a look out of the window. This is not an ideal world. Like most people, I would prefer abortions not to happen. Just as I would prefer no pregnant women to be left unsupported, and no child poverty. But there have always been unwanted pregnancies, which explains why our history is littered with backstreet butcheries, Magdalene laundries and forced adoptions.
If saturation policing was the key to dealing with violence, the combined muscle of the RUC, the British army and the UDR would have ended the Troubles in no time. It didn't. If building more jails was the answer, then the prison-heavy United States would have low crime rates. It doesn't.
Nothing could be simpler than converting the Áras into an ivory tower. The infrastructure is in place already, from the time when presidents were content to be silent figureheads.
Interviewing Terry Wogan was like throwing balls at a bouncy castle. Any question I asked simply bobbed against the structure and came sailing back without anything much resembling an answer.
Imagine finding yourself in a position where you're offered a choice between controlling the weather, and controlling a supply of treats directed towards your local area. Which would you plump for?
'We are a Protestant parliament and a Protestant state," said James Craig, first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. But something has been hatching in the eight decades since those words were heard - an evolution which would have dismayed the Northern state's founders. The province is turning greener.
Visiting someone in hospital recently, I fell into conversation with a country man who said he sold eggs for a living.
The Floodmaggedon caused by Storms Frank and Desmond raise a series of questions about inadequate flood defences, when it's right to withhold insurance cover, climate change blindness and the consequences of planning failures by successive local governments.
Many fascinating figures are associated with 1916, but the one I find most compelling is Roger Casement, because of his complexity. A conscientious servant of the empire, he was among the first Europeans to question colonialism, and was knighted for his reports on human rights abuses in the Congo and the Amazon.
Mayhem erupted, and my teenage eyes boggled. Lemmy and his Motorhead bandmates had just burst into the office where I worked and were jumping about, whooping and demanding money.
Zealous about reform, they swept into office with promises of a new way of doing business. And indeed a number of the Coalition's targets were met, one of which was cuts to judicial pay and pensions.
The arrival of the Three Wise Men was signalled by an outbreak of belly dancing. Instead of hosannas for the baby Jesus, some of Bethlehem's villagers strummed air guitars, while a pair of angels risked losing their haloes during an exuberant jiving session. Let nobody say Irish schools are slow to update the nativity play.
'What's in it for me?" demanded Councillor Hugh McElvaney, caught by a hidden camera looking for a bribe to help with a planning application. Let's consider that question in a broader context. What's in it for politicians to set up an independent anti-corruption body with strong powers and sufficient resources?
My email account was hacked last week, with fake emails sent to hordes of people I've dealt with online claiming I left my handbag in a taxi and was penniless in Cyprus. I've never been to the island. Phone calls from concerned relatives and friends quickly alerted me to the scam - but the hackers had hijacked my account and I was shut out of it.