October 1, 2022


Today’s Béal na Bláth commemoration, which will be addressed by both the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, is likely to be the biggest to date. Organisers are expecting more than 5,000 to attend the event in west Cork to mark the centenary of the killing of republican leader Michael Collins. However, 100 years on the question of who exactly killed Collins remains unanswered. Ronan McGreevy went to west Cork to examine the mysteries surrounding the ambush.

Diaries Collins kept from 1918 to 1922 are being made public for the first time and according to National Archives director Orlaith McBride they reveal the diaries reveal an “extraordinarily busy man – the diaries show us somebody who is meticulous in terms of record keeping. He kept records of everybody he met”.

The joint address by the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil at the ceremony says something about how politics has matured, but historian Diarmaid Ferriter writes that “approaching the legacy without bias is a noble aim, but beyond the two parties sharing a platform, the habits of a century will hardly be broken… In truth, commemorating Collins has been tricky for all the parties”.

The ceremony is likely to hammer another nail in the coffin of Civil War politics, writes Jennifer Bray. In fact, she writes “there is a belief in both parties, and perhaps to a much lesser extent the Green Party, that they will need to stick together if they want to keep Sinn Féin outside the gates.”

When Sinn Féin says the time for it to be in power is now, it is not just talking about its own ascent, writes Una Mullally — it is acknowledging the social and cultural shifts that have occurred to create this moment. The political party that reflects and connects with the culture of the time will always be the one to rise to power. People discombobulated by that shift remain confused, and why wouldn’t they? Their moment has passed. When Sinn Féin says this Government is out of touch and out of time, it is not just alluding to a clock running down to the election, it is talking about this era, this context.

Fintan O’Toole, meanwhile, compares the attack last week on Salman Rushdie in New York state with the decision by an Edinburgh theatre to cancel a Fringe Festival show by the comedian Jerry Sadowitz. “At most levels, these events have little in common,” O’Toole writes. “Yet the same basic question arises in both cases. What does freedom of expression mean in a world where being made to feel uncomfortable by a book or a performance can be presented as an innately bad thing?”

It is easy to forget that the Roman Empire flourished all around the western Adriatic in what is now Croatia. But David McWilliams is happy to give us a reminder and to also point out some of the fascinating – and consequential – similarities between Ireland and Croatia, which is soon to join the euro. “The Irish economy has been booming for the past five years on almost every metric, implying that our exchange rate is undervalued,” writes McWilliams. “Despite a strong post-pandemic recovery, the Croatian economy has been stagnant at best, implying that, among other things, the exchange rate is overvalued.”

The contest to become the next British prime minister will be over on September 5th, the same day Stormont should be back from its summer recess. If the DUP does not start inching towards office it will quickly embarrass the new prime minister, erode support for the Bill at Westminster and undermine the UK’s negotiating strategy with Europe. If that prime minister is Liz Truss, a showdown with the DUP beckons while the treacherous ERG eggs her on.

Some 80 per cent of Irish agricultural produce is exported, with a well-deserved emphasis on natural, healthy and fresh products and especially those from grass-feed beef and dairy. Beyond the simple economics, Irish farming has built a reputation for environmental care and community participation. Rather than crippling the sector, perhaps the 25 per cent reduction in emissions from the sector could be an opportunity to reinforce the intrinsic concern many farmers have for the preservation and nurture of the environment. . . But is there a single natural and environmentally friendly innovation which could make a dramatic impact on emissions from ruminant animals?

After achieving an exceptional academic record to enter medical school, completing five years of demanding undergraduate education and training, doctors then enter a healthcare workforce which undervalues them in every way. Lip service is paid to their health and wellbeing and there is certainly no health and wellbeing allowance! They are lucky if they get any break during the day. They are required to work at the sharp end in an inequitable healthcare system which limits access to healthcare for individuals — imagine endeavouring to provide decent healthcare to a patient on a hospital trolley in an unsuitable setting.

In his Pricewatch column, Conor Pope asks is Irish banking broken? “Ireland’s banks might not be ghosting their customers exactly, but these institutions, which have been so central to Irish communities for so long, are trying to break up with us,” writes Conor Pope.

Hilary Fannin asks just how smart are seagulls getting? After watching them strategically pinch the dinner of another hungry tourist she’s seriously thinking of approaching them for some investment advice.

Our restaurant critic Corinna Hardgrave is impressed by Loretta’s in Dublin 7. Everything about Loretta’s is smart – the room, the service and the food – and there plenty of interesting dishes on the Sunday sharing menu. If you want to do the large dishes justice, round up a few chums; otherwise, work your way through the small plates and enjoy an easy Sunday evening.

With grocery inflation is at a 15-year high, in his Caveat column Mark Paul wonders who knows how many supermarkets are passing on bigger price increases than necessary, using inflation as an excuse. “In the US, a snazzy new portmanteau has been coined for the alleged act of the exaggerated boosting profits using inflation as an excuse: greedflation.”

Earlier this week, Paul interviewed Tesco chief executive Natasha Adams, the Kerry woman who wants to crown Tesco as a ‘loved’ brand in the Irish market.

In her column this weekend, Roe McDermott offers advice to a woman who says her husband’s expectation that sex should go on for more than an hour is putting her off. “I just don’t have the energy for such long sessions every time,” the reader says. “I have tried telling him (in and out of bed), and also visibly losing interest midway to show him, since the verbal discussion seemed to have no effect.”

Joanne Hunt addresses how to handle passive-aggressive and negative comments. Psychologist Dr Ciara McEnteggart says: “A good habit to get into when you are making a choice is to ask yourself, who is this really for? Am I doing this for myself, or is it for someone else? By making your choice for you, and not based on how it will appear to others, you can insulate yourself from their opinions”.

As always there is much more on irishtimes.com, including extensive coverage of the weekend’s sport, rundowns of all the latest movies in our film reviews, and tips for restaurants to suit all tastes in our food section. You can always check out more articles exclusively available for Irish Times subscribers here.

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