Sniping at Bono

Bono's latest third-world fund-raising initiative – the launch of a new conscience driven brand called Product Red that will be attached to a range of clothing and financial products, with a small proportion of the profits being used to fund Aids treatment in Africa – got relatively little coverage in Ireland. Some of what appeared was of the usual predictable sneering variety.

Junk-food journalism

Political opinion polls in newspapers are little more than junk-food journalism. They may fill acres of newsprint and provide a warm feeling for an editor who gets to fill space conveniently, but they are almost worthless journalistically, devoid of any worthwhile intellectual nutrition.

Bargaining Aer Lingus's status

The Government's intended sale of Aer Lingus is likely to be a subject for the new partnership talks with the social partners that started on 25 Janaury. One of the five conditions set down by the trade unions is the role of the State in economic affairs and it is known that Siptu in particular is determined that Aer Lingus remains in State ownership.

Selling off Irish rugby

With characteristic understatement and spontaneity – donning a black armband and reciting a lament! – George Hook started RTÉ's rugby broadcast from Thomond Park last Saturday by mourning the station's loss of Heineken Cup live rugby coverage from next season to Sky Sports.

Puzzling penalty points

The penalty point systems for driving offences punishes both bad behaviour and bad driving. The expansion planned for April – with the introduction of another 31 offences for which points can be awarded in addition to the existing serious four – may not prove successful in its aim of improving driving – and reducing crashes – if enough Garda are not available to enforce it. Past experience suggests that is likely, notwithstanding the establishment of a traffic core, the addition of resources and the long awaited introduction of a functioning computer system.

The tawdry pursuit of a decent man

Fianna Fáil town councillor Malcolm Byrne from Gorey in County Wexford has been a prolific contributor to the letters to the editor's page of The Irish Times in recent years. As recently as 9 January he wrote of "a very vibrant and healthily cynical media in Ireland which have no problem in exposing political failings and an intelligent electorate which can easily make its judgements on those failings – as well, of course, as on successes."

Race to bottom

In agreeing the conditions for the entry of the trade union movement into talks for a successor to the Sustaining Progress partnership agreement, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has agreed implicitly with SIPTU's analysis of labour market trends. That may be a big mistake.


The Irish booze and politics cocktail

There are senior politicians in Ireland who have problems with alcohol use near enough to the level experienced by Charles Kennedy, ousted leader of the Liberal Democrats in Britain. Two things protect them from suffering his fate: an understanding media and a cultural acceptance of alcohol use within politics, writes Matt Cooper.