Labour In Distress

Following the unexpected hammering which Labour received in the 1977 general election, the party got itself a new leader and continued as if nothing had happened. The few measures taken to inspire confidence for the future proved lacking and finance remains a big problem. The seats of two deputies of long standing, Dan Spring and Michael Pat Murphy, who are retiring, may not remain with Labour and there is a general lack of confidence in the party's election strategy.

Going to the Dogs

There were eight races and this was the last. Things were getting desperate. It wasn't the money lost but the whole sense of defeat that irked, that obliterated everything, that made the next race and the possibility of winning, of picking the right dog and betting at the right time more important than anything. In my jacket there was a £10 note that was burning to get out. It would be a risk but it would make up for everything. Somewhere among these six dogs was the one who was going to win. There should be some way of knowing which it was.

Old dogs and new tricks

WHEN THE BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS RETURNED FROM THEIR 1980 tour of South Africa, the general consensus of opinion about their 3-1 defeat in the Tests was that the Lions forwards had won the series, but their backs had kicked it away.

Inside Mountjoy

THERE ARE SOME 450 IRISH PEOPLE IMPRISONED IN MOUNTJOY. These  people are robbed of their dignity, they enjoy no privacy and they are subjected to a petty authoritarian regime which hasn't changed essentially for over a century.  Pat Brennan has the inside story on Mounjoy.

"We want to join a union!"

It's a time of the year for tying up loose ends and there have been several flapping around this column for some time that deserve to get knotted. One could say, if one was so inclined (and this one is), that this month we have a pot-pourri. And anyone who doesn't like it can stand over there beside Dr. Paisley. You'll recognise him by the placard he's holding - "No pot-pourri here".


The I Hate Christmas Page

It begins before summer has really ended. It won't be long now 'til Christmas. As though the day that's in it isn't enough. Then the commercial hustle starts - only so many shopping days left to Christmas. As though shopping was something desirable and in short supply. Shopping stinks. The fewer days left for it the better.

Hitting the bottle and when the bottle hits back

Considering the large part that drinking plays in our lives there is precious little training for it. Youngsters usually begin by sneaking a drink out of sight of their elders and from there stagger into the mainstream of pub life. It's a little like the way in which we find out about sex - no one actually says anything about it, it sort of grows on you.

Predictions for 1981

January :

It's very cold. The Pope denounces the Twentieth Century. Ronald Reagan fails senility test; Garret FitzGerald condemns Charlie Haughey's seed, breed and generation; Ben Dunne launches new Sunday newspaper; RTE Controller of Programmes bans Robert Kee's multi-million pound series on Ireland because of references to Cromwell, the penal laws, Catholic emancipation and the famine, which could be interpreted as inflammatory; 200,000 out of work; Johnny Logan changes his name to Jim Hand.

Brian Friel "Talking to ourselves"

Brian Friel, born 1929, has been an important writer on the Irish scene for the last twenty years. The success, in Ireland, London and especially on Broadway of his 1965 play, Philadelphia Here I Come helped establish him as an Irish playwright. Since then he has had further success, at home and abroad, with plays like Lovers, Freedom of the City, Volunteers, Living Quarters and the recent Faith Healer.