October 1, 2022

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Hello and welcome to IT Sunday, your weekly briefing of some of the best Irish Times journalism for our subscribers.

A ruthless All Blacks side dismantled Ireland in their first test earlier this month as part of the Irish tour of New Zealand, securing a comprehensive 42-19 win that led to much doom and gloom about the prospects of Andy Farrell’s men in the rest of the series. Everything changed during the second test on Saturday however, when the Irish side turned the tide on the All Blacks in Dunedin and secured a historic first win on New Zealand soil in the process.

Writing about Ireland’s 23-12 victory over New Zealand, Gerry Thornley notes that while “the postscript may focus on the red card, and two yellow cards, which the All Blacks incurred inside a wild and wacky first half-hour … by any yardstick, this Irish victory was totally deserved”. He adds that “Ireland had more possession and more penetration, dominating large tracts of the game from the off” and “in many respects, played better when the sides had the same number of players than when they had a one- or two-man advantage”.

He plodded along for months in the face of a gathering storm of controversies but in the end, just weeks after seemingly being buoyed by a confidence vote, British PM Boris Johnson resigned after dozens of his ministers and Tory MPs quit their roles.

In looking at Johnson’s rise and dramatic fall, Fintan O’Toole observes that it was Brexit which “took him to an astonishing place, one where, in any sane world, he did not belong. His great strength, indeed, was his uncanny ability to embody an entire, and epic, political project . . . The old Eurosceptic cranks wrote a script – Johnson performed it. Without his brilliant ability to enact Brexit as a persona, it would simply not have happened.”

In his World View column, Ruadhán Mac Cormaic notes that just as former US president Donald Trump did with the Republican Party, Johnson has unleashed demons that will haunt the Conservatives – and Britain – for at least a generation.

The six years since the Brexit referendum have left London more isolated and less influential, he writes. “By unmooring itself from one of the world’s three key geoeconomic players, one that had amplified its voice in the world, the UK found itself excluded from international conversations on everything from China to the global economy . . . . Finding a place for the UK in a post-Brexit world required the sort of hard strategic thinking that was beyond Johnson’s capabilities.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Collins, in his analysis of Johnson’s rapid fall, writes that, in Dublin, the overwhelming reaction was just relief. But he notes this relief will be short-lived and it would be foolish to assume that things will improve under Johnson’s successor as Conservative Party leader, or even under a Labour government led by Keir Starmer. “The lesson from the Brexit saga is that the two big parties in the UK are so focused on narrow party political advantage that they are prepared to ignore the long-term interests of the British people, never mind the consequences of their actions for the island of Ireland.”

In a week where UK politics were very much in focus, Eliot Wilson explored the historical echoes of current attitudes in Westminster to Ireland North and South. The former House of Commons clerk writes that the antagonism between Ireland and Britain over the Northern Ireland protocol “speaks of a deeper malaise, a systemic and long-standing inability of successive Westminster governments to get under the skin of either community in Northern Ireland, or to grasp the quicksilver nature of UK-Irish relations”.

He adds: “It was the brilliant but bibulous Reginald Maudling, then home secretary, who summed up London’s view of Northern Ireland which persists to this day. Visiting the province in 1970, he said to an aide as he departed: ‘For God’s sake, bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country.’ Politicians in Westminster have learned not to say this out loud, but suspicions persist that it remains unspoken.”

Despite the soaring cost of living at the moment, the key to good financial planning is to have a goal and, where possible, to start saving as soon as possible, even if it is initially in small sums. This is the advice from personal finance writer Fiona Reddan to parents hoping to build up a nest egg for their children, possibly to assist them with wedding costs or trying to buy a house.

“If you start when the child is young, you will have a longer savings horizon. And, given the average first-time buyer age of about 38, according to the most recent data – as well as an average age of getting married of 37.8 years for grooms and 35.7 years for brides – according to Central Statistics Office figures, you may be able to continue to save long into the child’s adulthood.”

In this week’s Tell Me About It column, Trish Murphy advises a 24-year-old woman who has fallen in love with her friend’s dad and wants a long-term relationship with him. The young woman worked from her friend’s house during the pandemic and during that time became closer with her friend’s father. Now she says: “We both say that we love each other and want to have a relationship.

“The issue is that he wants this to be a secret. He is terrified that his daughter won’t understand. I think we have a real long-term future together and holding this as a secret is reinforcing the problem.”

Meanwhile, relationships expert Roe McDermott responds to a query from a 25-year-old who works in a hospital and has slept with a colleague in his 60s. “I have really low self-esteem because I’m not good-looking, and I always avoid having boyfriends. Since he was a mature guy and he was giving me so many compliments and noticing me, I started to believe him. We had a physical relationship but after a few weeks he told me he can’t have a relationship with me because of our age gap.”

As always there is much more on irishtimes.com, including extensive coverage and reaction to Ireland’s victory over the All Blacks and live coverage of Dublin v Kerry in the All-Ireland senior football semi-final this afternoon.

You can always check out more articles exclusively available for Irish Times subscribers here.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles. We value your views, so please feel free to send comments, feedback or any suggestions for topics you would like to see covered to feedback@irishtimes.com

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