Ireland Callingby John Spain
- Abortion reform Irish style - Women still have no rights over their own bodies, continue to travel to the UK for procedure
- We’re total abortion hypocrites - proposals for new legislation were laughable
- Catch 22 for Irish abortion law - navigating Ireland’s rigid, Catholic influence legal framework and Savita Halappanavar’s case
- The late Baroness Margaret Thatcher had her good points
- Letters from the tax man - the mounting cost of Ireland's property tax and running the country
You need the little bit of religion at Christmas time. There's something about going to church on Christmas morning that makes the day complete, even for us atheists and agnostics.
For my teenagers it's a glimpse into a weird world of ritual, of men in frocks and old folk on their knees mumbling strange incantations. At least that's how they see it. It's like stepping into Harry Potter, one of the teens told me last year.
Given the cutbacks in last week's budget in Ireland, the reaction so far has been surprisingly muted.
It was the toughest budget ever here, with welfare payments cut, the earnings of everyone on the state payroll cut for the second time in a year, and other reductions in state spending that will have a negative impact on the standard of living of almost every citizen.
It was the kind of budget that should have caused uproar. But it didn't.
October 2, 2009, 11:41 AM
You may be familiar with the term "dead cat bounce," beloved of stock market traders. They use it to describe the phenomenon of a share price that falls to the floor, then recovers somewhat for a while, before falling back to the floor again and staying there.
It's a dead cat bounce. Like when you throw a dead cat out a window to the street far below. It bounces when it hits the ground. But that doesn't mean it's alive again.
October 15, 2009, 8:52 AM
Last week I brought my two 16-year-old sons (twins) for their six monthly dental check-up. Amazingly, in view of all the tooth destroying garbage they eat, no fillings were necessary.
So apart from the careful visual check which took three or four minutes each, they had their teeth thoroughly cleaned with that high speed gizmo that dentists use which took another five or six minutes each, and they were done. Relief all round.
October 21, 2009, 3:14 PM
We went to see a Manchester United match at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago. On the short flight over I was trying to explain to my teenage son why the Irish government is about to make huge cutbacks in state spending.
It wasn't that I had a captive audience and was doing some forced education. He actually asked me, prompted by a headline in the paper he was reading saying that state support for his school is going to be reduced.
October 28, 2009, 1:54 PM
The former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, talking about being in government and holding on to power, once famously remarked that "you get over the big issues, it's the little things that trip you up."
It was a little thing that tripped him up. And it was a little thing that just over a week ago threatened the future of the government here.
There were lots of knock, knock jokes here this week. Or even Knock, knock jokes.
Knock, knock, who's there? It's Virgin.
Last Friday, November 6, up to 70,000 workers in Ireland took to the streets in cities and major towns around the country in a mass protest against the cutbacks the government says must be made in state spending.
This great outpouring of frustration and anger united workers of all kinds, both those on the state payroll and those in private industry. It was a national, unified protest against government policy.
November 20, 2009, 2:13 PM
There's nothing like a recession to concentrate the mind! One of my kids is at the stage in school where he has to make choices about the subjects he wants to do in the Leaving Cert, the exam that Irish kids do before they leave school and either go on to university or out into the world of work. Or maybe that should be the world of unemployment.
So although he's only 16, the choices are important. For example, a kid who wants to do medicine must take chemistry in the Leaving Cert and might want to do biology as well. To do engineering in college you must take higher level math.
November 25, 2009, 1:31 PM
Then last weekend there was a real deluge when Ireland was hit by a huge storm that dumped so much rain on us half the country seemed to be under water. It never rains but it pours.
December 2, 2009, 11:29 AM
You know Murphy's Law. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.
Well, that's the way things were in Ireland over the past week. It seemed like everything and everybody -- man, nature and God -- was conspiring against us.
Published Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 9:56 AM
The axe is about to fall. On Wednesday of this week the Irish Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan will present his Budget for 2010 to the Dail (Parliament), and it is going to be the toughest since the foundation of the state.
A huge lump has to be cut out of state spending in Ireland to stop the country going bankrupt. And that means cutting back sharply in ways that are going to severely hit the living standard of every person in the country.