Articles: Politics %
October 8, 2017
Do you remember the break up of Yugoslavia? At first people said it could never happen. Yugoslavia had been a federation since the First World War, it had Europe’s biggest standing army, it had been the ballast between East and West and yet, it disintegrated in bloodshed. More
May 29, 2014
This week 100 years ago, a young Serb was practising his shot in a Bosnian forest. A month later, he would be successful in his murderous mission. John Redmond, the undisputed leader of Nationalist Ireland, had, after an epic parliamentary struggle, just forced through the Government of Ireland Act. Home Rule was here. It had massive public support. More
May 1, 2014
In my 2007 book ‘The Generation Game’, I wrote “Anglo Irish bank is little more than an out-of-control hedge fund leveraging themselves and their clients into property”. The lawyers for the publishers insisted that the name Anglo be dropped, for fear of litigation. So the published sentence replaced the words Anglo Irish Bank with the more general “certain well-known Dublin banks”. More
April 28, 2014
This week’s column comes to you from a very warm and sunny Istanbul, where I am working, for my sins. This is one of the world’s great cities and everywhere there is the evidence that this place has been at the centre of the world for close to 2,000 years, stretching down the ages from the Roman Eastern Empire to the centre of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were eventually deposed and replaced by Ataturk and his extraordinary secular vision in the early 20th century, who fashioned the new Republic out of the twin ingredients of science and nationalism. Now this secular republic is under threat by the renewed religious fever of Islamists in the government of Tayyip Erdogan. More
April 14, 2014
My dad used to tell me about the numerous pawnbrokers in Dun Laoghaire, and how it was common for people to use them at the end of a week, or coming up to some big event, to get cash for clothes, jewellery or anything that could be used as collateral. If the person didn’t pay back the loan, the pawnshop sold the collateral. More
March 24, 2014
This week the diminutive Janet Yellen, by far and away the most powerful woman in the world, sent the macho and male-dominated financial markets into a hissy fit when she mused aloud that she may raise US interest rates early next year. More
March 20, 2014
Every month you’ll hear about the number of new cars that are sold. This is usually taken as a bellweather for the health of the economy. Cars are expensive and the more that are shifted in any one month, or indeed year, the healthier the economy. Also because so many people use their car to get to work, an upswing in the demand for cars indicates an upswing in activity across all sorts of areas. More
March 10, 2014
I am here at Abu Dhabi Airport. My flight was supposed to depart at 2.15am. It’s now 9am and we’ve been told the flight may take off at 11am. So you can imagine the state of the place and the state of me! There’s no point in getting angry at staff, who are trying their best to deal with a mega systems failure. There has been a collapse of the Etihad infrastructure: poor visibility due to fog, lights on the runways have gone out, crews are not able to make their connection and now there is a massive backlog of planes queuing up on the runways with no one to fly them. More
March 6, 2014
Look at the chart for the latest from January 2014 and notice which cities scream crisis.They are Kiev and Istanbul. More
February 17, 2014
My earliest memories of Castle Street, Dalkey, were Saturday mornings in Dom McClure’s barbershop with my father. Dom cut my Grandad’s hair, my Dad’s hair and now he was shearing mine. More
I write a column every week. This keeps me sane and hopefully, on my toes – but you can be the judge of that! The article appears in the Irish Times every Saturday. I just started writing this column (having recently left my column at the Irish Independent which I wrote for over 10 years). I cover economic, financial, demographic, social and geo-political issues – and all sorts of other things that come into my head, sparked by things I’ve read, people I have spoken to or ideas I have heard, over the course of any particular week.
The world - and Ireland - is changing so rapidly that it’s impossible to run out of things to write about. Since I rarely stop writing, the articles are composed and written in the oddest of places, in bars, on trains, in my office, on buses. You name it, I’ve written in, on or under it.
One of the great joys in the week is reading the responses to my articles in the comments on this site. Thanks so much to everyone who responds, challenges, argues and even blatantly insults! This is what freedom of expression and opinion is all about: two contrasting opinions – a buyer and a seller - make a market and makes for good discussion. Imagine a world where we all agreed?