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From: Church & State: Editorials
Date: October, 2011
By: Editorial
Title: Some Home Truths About State And Church
In modern democracies the populace has structured public existence in the form of political parties. It does not, as in ancient Athens, exist as a general assembly of itself. It is divided into parties in order to have durable political existence in large states—and by the standard of ancient Athens the Irish Republic is a large state.
Memory is said to be indispensable to human existence. Political memory, which is indispensable to development in the State, is maintained by political parties—or else it lapses. It is certainly not maintained by lectures in the History Departments of Universities, whose content is in extreme flux.

The party-politics of the Irish state was determined by the way the system of government was re-made according to a British ultimatum in 1922. The part of Sinn Fein which submitted to the ultimatum was established in power by British arms and was placed in control of the State direction of national life: the part which would not submit was subordinated by military action and its representatives were excluded from the Dail for many years by means of the Oath to the Crown that was insisted upon as a ritual of admission.

A competent Anti-Treaty Party was formed on a basis of Republican sentiment and, despite all the obstacles placed in its way, it won a General Election ten years after its defeat and went on to be the hegemonic party in the state for the next three generations...

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From: Irish Political Review: Editorials
Date: September, 2011
By: Editorial
Title: Left No Alternative
Can self-denial be the basis of success in democratic politics?

If it can, then Fianna Fail is assured of a bright future.

It denied its history under Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen. And it is now actively destroying its party structure—which carried a sense of historical orientation with it, despite all that its leaders could do to it. Micheál Martin is modernising the party by abolishing its internal life and subordinating it to his extended-family caucus in Cork city.

The Irish Times naturally encourages it on this line…

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From: Irish Political Review: Editorials
Date: August, 2011
By: Editorial
Title: Summer Manoeuvres: Presidency
The function of the Presidency in the state is to represent the past in the life of society. It is an institution without either legislative or executive powers. Creating the future is the business of the Dáil. But the future is a modification of the past—except when some catastrophic general upheaval brings about a kind of Year Zero in which the past has no relevance. And the Dáil at present seems to be adrift in the present with little sense of the past, and therefore little sense of a viable future line of development. A Presidency which made a point of representing the past would therefore play a particularly useful part as ballast that would keep the public mind on an even keel.

The big event in the life of the next Presidency will be the centenary of the 1916 Insurrection. A Fine Gael Minister has expressed the hope that it will not be a militaristic commemoration. The state has in recent years been wallowing in the celebration of British militarism. The British war of destruction on Germany and Turkey has been presented as Our War. But the war that was actually our war must not be celebrated because it was a war against Britain. And yet it is only by entering the realms of fantasy that one can think that an independent Irish state would have come into being and been acknowledged by Britain if it had not been established by the use of force that Britain was unable to crush. Britain was not going to give up anything to mere votes...

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From: Irish Political Review: Editorials
Date: July, 2011
By: Editorial
Title: Reflections On A State
Brian Lenihan was a marvellous man. Unpretentious. Affable. He sat at the piano played Chopin on the spur of the moment. Pity about The Mistake. Pity about that Delusion in which he spent his last years. That was Olivia O'Leary's instant obituary on Drive Time.

Colm McCarthy's more considered obituary (Sunday Independent, 12 June) holds that "Brian Lenihan was an exceptional minister for an exceptional time". Pity about The Mistake.

"Brian Lenihan was a spectacular victim of bad advice in September 2008".

"It would be disingenuous to describe Irish policy through the few short years of Lenihan's tenure at Finance as a success story. It has ended in failure: the State is unable to borrow, reliant, in Morgan Kelly's resonant phrase, on the kindness of strangers…"

So Lenihan was a disastrous failure—though one should try to find some kind things to say about him when he has just died…

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From: Church & State: Editorials
Date: July, 2011
By: Editorial
Title: Irish State In The Dock
The Irish State has been brought before the Torture Committee of the United Nations on a charge of engaging in torture in the conduct of the Magdalene Laundries where unmarried mothers were given refuge from society in an era when marriage was generally regarded as an important social institution. It has been ordered to investigate the torture it practised in the Laundries, prosecute itself, punish itself, and make redress to its victims. The possibility that it might not have engaged in torture is not seriously entertained.

A curious point about this is that the State is required to investigate its torture practices from 1922 onwards. Why 1922? Why not 1919, for example? Both dates are so long ago that nobody subjected to torture in Ireland on either date is likely to be around to give evidence, and torture is certainly not less likely to have been inflicted in 1920 than in 1922.

It might be said that 1922 was when the State was founded, so it would be silly to press the investigation beyond 1922.

But what State was founded in 1922…

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