Paris to Malawi – can the world grasp its moment of hope?

We drove for two hours from the nearest town, canoed down a crocodile-infested river and took the last few kilometres of bumpy dirt track by motorbike to reach the village.

This was the Chikwawa district of southern Malawi; the remotest part of a remote land, a place where you stand on a hill and see nothing but barren, dusty landscape for miles.

News from the other side of the world still travels slowly in places like Chikwawa and so it was the following morning, powered by patchy wifi back in the town, that we learnt of Paris. The Malawians we told reacted as we had: a stunned silence and a look of horror, sadness and utter bewilderment.

We had come to Malawi with Paris in mind. From November 30th to December 11th the French capital hosts the UN Climate Summit. Malawi is a country with a lot riding on that summit and in the villages of Chikwawa we wanted to see just how high the stakes are.

Continue reading “Paris to Malawi – can the world grasp its moment of hope?”

Let’s stay together: Why can’t Irish people just get along?

Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour party has led to sniping between the ‘New’ and ‘Old’ wings of the party. While this has been a touch unedifying, the remarkable thing is that both wings exist under one umbrella in the first place.

It is inconceivable that two groupings with such an ideological gulf and intense personal dislike of one another would stay together in Ireland. They would have long since exploded into 16 parties, 12 alliances, 11 working groups, 45 independents and six armies.

Continue reading “Let’s stay together: Why can’t Irish people just get along?”

Fake IDs, fallen governments and an unstoppable drum machine: Carter USM say a final goodbye

It was my older brother who introduced me to Carter USM. When you’re 11 it’s generally your older brother who gets you in trouble.

The year was 1992 and the smell of revolution was in the air. The Cold War ended, Yugoslavia imploded, Los Angles burned, and I was getting ready to move to big school.

These were crazy times.

As revolutions raged, cities fell and my primary school classmates and I prepared to go our separate ways into an uncertain future of French classes, extended school days and the very real prospect of being beaten up behind the bike sheds by the older kids, there was a desperate need for heroes.

In the anarchy of a world yet to discover Coldplay, a CD with a blue and yellow cover and ten short songs was about to change everything.

Continue reading “Fake IDs, fallen governments and an unstoppable drum machine: Carter USM say a final goodbye”

A mistaken coincidence: the curious case of the would-be politician and the modern art museum

Not since a sculptor forgot a key part of Claudius’ anatomy has the art world so seriously threatened the reputation of a political leader.

The scandal began – and this is the first time in the history of written language these words have been written together – with the by-election for the Seanad’s Education and Cultural Committee, a grouping with such a low profile it makes the Freemasons look like the Kardashians.

Continue reading “A mistaken coincidence: the curious case of the would-be politician and the modern art museum”

Ireland’s pub justice

Jennifer Lauren’s appearance in a Co. Tipperary pub on criminal charges has put international attention on the links between Ireland’s criminal justice system and its drinks industry.

The New York-based niece of billionaire fashion designer Ralph was appearing before a judge charged with being drunk and abusive on an airplane. The 41-year-old was flying from Barcelona to New York when the plane was diverted to land at Shannon, allegedly as a result of an air rage incident.

Jenny Lauren
Jennifer Lauren: left it late to organise her Gathering event.

Continue reading “Ireland’s pub justice”

Retaining the Seanad: Ireland’s love of second houses

How times change: the last government tried to convince us all to buy second houses in Bulgaria, this one seems to think we can’t even afford two on Kildare Street.

The defeat of the referendum to abolish the Seanad has left the government with redder faces than the audience at a Miley Cyrus concert. Continue reading “Retaining the Seanad: Ireland’s love of second houses”

Why if you care about courgettes you will vote No in the Seanad referendum

Save money! Fire politicians! Kick the elite!

The Government’s populist campaign to abolish the Seanad has fallen just short of guaranteeing ice cream and trips to Disneyland for all.

When you see Enda Kenny talking about saving €20m and giving two fingers to elitist hacks, it’s impossible not to think of John Delaney running through a train carriage, his locks flowing behind him as he pours cheap Polish lager into the delirious mouths of the loyal Boys in Green. Continue reading “Why if you care about courgettes you will vote No in the Seanad referendum”

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