Secret negotiations undermine democracy

This week, two democratic political parties, run on democratic lines, are negotiating a programme for a democratic government... in secret. Colin Murphy peers through the smoke and mirrors.


We take it for granted that the wheeling and dealing of close-quarter political negotiations should take place in private. Since the 1980s, secret negotiations have dominated our politics: social partnership (since 1987), coalition deals (every government since 1989), the peace process (since the early 1990s).

The man who would have been Taoiseach

Eamon Gilmore seemed like a viable possibility for Taoiseach, earlier in this two-year election campaign.

He may have brought Labour to record poll numbers, but he's not the closest a Labour leader has ever got to leading the government.

Why has the Labour vote collapsed?

Last September, Labour was at 33% in the polls. On Sunday, Labour was at 20%. 'Labour support implodes,' concluded the Sunday Independent, in a front-page strapline.

Along with the rise of Fine Gael and the apparently growing credibility of Enda Kenny, the other big story of this election campaign has been this implosion of Labour.

So why has this implosion happened? The question should be, perhaps, has it happened at all.

Have the Greens done a deal with Fine Gael?

Why did the Greens pull out of government? And will we see them there again any time soon? By Colin Murphy.

A party that had displayed extraordinary (perhaps suicidal) patience with Brian Lenihan’s fiscal strategy and Brian Cowen’s leadership withdrew, because, “Our patience has reached an end", in the words of party leader John Gormley on January 23.

Good night for Kenny, but Adams strongest of leaders

Over 950,000 people tuned in to last night's five-way leader's debate on RTE. Enda Kenny undoubtedly had the most to lose, particularly following his absence at last week's TV3 debate, so the Fine Gael camp will be relieved to see him emerge relatively unscathed. Colin Murphy offers his analysis of the event.

Gerry Adams won last night's debate by a country mile, showing a brilliant and consistent display of focused anger. It didn't matter (to those to whom that appeals) that he clearly neither knows nor cares where the money comes from.

Travelling community assists with Ireland's overseas aid effort

A new initiative in Ballyfermot looks to give Travellers a voice on overseas development issues, drawing on their experiences of inequality in Ireland. By Colin Murphy.

Anne Garvey has a trick she uses to show her classes how the world's riches are divided. She uses chairs to represent each continent’s resources, and then divides the class amongst them to represent population. North America ends up with two students stretched across a row of chairs; Africa is one chair with three people trying to balance on it.

A tribunal of the people to remould broken politics

The values-based vision for Ireland has been undermined by electoral gain. By Colin Murphy

Eamon de Valera once said that if he wished to know what the people of Ireland were thinking, he had to simply look into his heart. Today, the politicians prefer to rely on polls to know what the people are thinking, while de Valera's role as a moral grandstander has been largely usurped by my colleagues in the media.

Football massacre misrepresents true character of Angola

The Africa Cup of Nations, in Angola, got off to a bloody start earlier this month, when two members of Togo’s national football team were killed in an attach on their bus by rebels in the Angolan enclave province of Cabinda.

With the competition billed as a chance for Angola to demonstrate its stability and potential, just over a year since the first post-war elections, the attack – claimed by separate factions of the Cabindan independent movement, FLEC – seemed a violent refutation of the nation’s supposed progress.

Media choose sensation over insight in Haiti reportage

If Haiti was visited by an “apocalypse” or “Dantean” horror in the aftermath of the earthquake of January 12, then there was one news story that perfectly captured it.

The streets of Port-au-Prince, the devastated capital, were littered with roadblocks made of corpses. Earthquake survivors, out of either anger or trauma, or perhaps Caribbean voodoo superstition, had piled bodies high across the streets, in protest at their neglect.

February's Theatre

One of the most enticing prospects of the new  year opens the month of February at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. Michael Barker Caven, fresh from directing Shadowlands to acclaim on the West End, turns his attention to Strindberg's Miss Julie (a version by Frank McGuinness). Caven enjoys his sexual politics and power play on stage, so this should suit him.