The lead story in The Irish Times of 11 November 1982 was about developments in the campaign for the general election in Ireland two weeks later. Facing into their third successive close contest in 18 months, the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, Charles Haughey and Garrett Fitzgerald, were hammering away at each other.

But three items of international news made it to the front page. One was about an application to the Vatican by Princess Caroline of Monaco for an annulment of her marriage to Phillipe Junot, from whom she had already obtained a civil divorce. Another was…


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In an address from the White House on 14 April, President Biden announced that all remaining 2,500 US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 11 September, the twentieth anniversary of “9/11”.

President Biden explained in some detail how he had arrived at this decision.

US troops went to Afghanistan after 9/11 “to root out al Qaeda”; to prevent future terrorist attacks against the US planned from Afghanistan.

A trip to Afghanistan in 2008 at the request of the then incoming president, Barack Obama, reinforced then incoming Vice-President Biden’s conviction…:

…that only the Afghans have the right and responsibility to…


Integral to the annual cycle of things is the arrival of swallows to our barn in mid-April and their departure again five months later. There are two nests up in the rafters and, last year, the first swallows took up residence on 16 April. This year, although I have seen swallows nearby, our own nests remain vacant ten days later.

The apparent “lateness” could well be within the bell curve of normality, just that bit closer to its edge than the middle. The cold weather across Europe for much of April may have been a factor. But such is the…


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The Irish Times business journalist, Fiona Reddan, provided some interesting reflections on inheritance tax in Ireland in an article published in the newspaper on 7 April. Although the current programme for government did not propose any changes to inheritance tax, Ms. Reddan suggests it may begin to loom larger on the political agenda.

Not being an expert on tax matters, I am taking Ms. Reddan’s facts and figures at face value.

Potential beneficiaries from any will fall into one of three categories or clusters.

Group A comprises bequests in both directions between parents and children. These are subject to a…


On 1 April, Philosophie magazine, a French periodical, made an important announcement. It had managed to obtain a copy of a student’s exam script for the Baccalauréat (Leaving Cert) of 1995. The exam was in philosophy. The question: “Can we be indifferent to the truth?” The student was one Emmanuel Jean-Michel Fréderic Macron. And the magazine had been in pursuit of his exam script since his election as President of France in 2017.

The magazine reproduced extracts from M. Macron’s answer. His conclusion was delicately crafted. We can be respectful of the importance of truth, not indifferent too it, while…


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On 27 March, the week-end after Ireland’s thoroughly unexpected demolition of England at the Aviva, former Leinster and Scotland coach, Matt Williams, was warning in The Irish Times that one swallow does not make a summer.

One excellent performance — and it was excellent — does not equate to long-term excellence.

After the failure of 2019 World Cup the IRFU set goals. Win two Six Nations with one Grand Slam as a minimum before 2023. Those are realistic goals that need to be ruthlessly pursued. …


Moving into the fourth month of our third nationwide lockdown, I am having to rummage harder along the shelves to find books I have already read but forgotten enough to reread with enthusiasm or, very occasionally, books that, for some reason, I might not yet have read at all.

A recent “find” in the latter category is Great Irish Reportage, a selection of 57 “reports” assembled and edited by John Horgan, all composed between 1922 and 2012. (https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/196/196171/great-irish-reportage/9780241967126.html). The book is worth flicking through, even if its promoters might now choose somebody other than Roy Greenslade for thefront cover endorsement.


From late 1987 to the end of 1989, I had the privilege of serving in Ireland’s embassy in Washington DC. It is indicative of the relatively subdued state of Irish-US relations at that time that the government representative “covering” Washington for Saint Patrick’s Day in 1988 was Padraig Flynn, then Minister for the Environment. Of his visit, I can remember nothing at all. He might have got a few minutes in the White House to present the bowl of shamrock to President Ronald Reagan, but I couldn’t swear to it.

However, in 1989, our visitor from Dublin was the Taoiseach…


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Tomorrow, Micheál Martin will zoom to Washington DC to meet President Biden. The Taoiseach has already been armed with guidance, in terms falling somewhere between advice and instructions, from David McWilliams about the use he should make of the meeting.

Writing in The Irish Times of 6 March, Mr. McWilliams suggested:

This Saint Patrick’s Day, the Taoiseach should ask US president Joe Biden for help. What about asking him for four million vaccines? …


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Earlier this month, Orla O’Donnell, Legal Affairs Correspondent with RTE, issued this tweet.

A plea for help from colleagues — ESPECIALLY younger or young at heart colleagues: what are the GOOD things about journalism? What made you want to be a journalist?! Let me know so I can share the positivity with transition years next week!

As you can see, Ms. O’Donnell emphasised her desire to hear only about the good things. But Twitter is an etiquette-free zone where no holds are barred. …

Daire O'Criodain

Former diplomat and aviation finance executive, active now mainly in not-for-profit sector. Living in rural Clare. Weekly posts on Wednesdays.

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