Five Years On – The Media’s Role in Ireland’s Financial Fall

(Originally published at Irishleftreview.org in October 2013)

With the five-year anniversary of the nationalising of the Irish banks having just passed us, one would think that at this stage we would have some answers. One would be wrong. Of course, much has been written about the topic in the years since. However, as much as we and the media enjoy blaming the elites of the world for what happened, the media also had a large role to play in the inflating the property bubble which has since burst and the consequences of which have hobbled the country. They toed the party line regarding property prices, and as a result, played an important propagandising role in the country. Whilst over the previous week there have been numerous articles written about the bank guarantee and the resulting economic downfall, as far as I am aware, nothing has been said about the media’s culpability. This is an important omission, but not entirely unsurprising.

Islam and the West

(Originally Published on Corkhumanists.weebly.com in March 2013)

Many in the atheist movement have been extremely outspoken about what they see as the dangers Islam poses to the West, notably Pat Condell, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens. They use the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the election of Hamas in Gaza to prove their thesis that Islamic Fundamentalism is on the rise and needs to be stamped out.

Zero Dark Thirty and U.S. Foreign Policy

(An edited version of this piece appeared in the February 2013 edition of the UCC Motley)

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, it would have been impossible to not hear about the then upcoming, and now released, movie Zero Dark Thirty, which puts onto celluloid the decade long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Taking as its starting point the attacks on the Twin Towers, the movie charts the mission from the perspective of one female CIA agent up until Bin Laden’s assassination at the hands of a SEAL team. This depiction of the hunt for Bin Laden has been much lauded and it has thus far been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and four Golden Globes, with the director, Kathryn Bigelow, specifically coming in for much of the praise; her portrayal of strong women in it earning her the title of a feminist hero in some quarters.

Atheism in Ireland and the Decline of the Catholic Church

(This piece later was later published at Irishleftreview.org in March 2013)

It is generally considered a truism these days to state that from the foundation of the Republic, the Catholic Church has had a large part to play in the running of the country. Legislation was passed or defeated on the whims of Catholic interests, social norms and conventions were passed down from the pulpit to the worshippers in the pews, and most shamefully, thousands of women and children were forced into what was essentially slave labour in the country’s Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries. However, the attitude of many towards the Church has changed dramatically over the last twenty or so years, no doubt caused by the revelations of what went on in the Industrial Schools, Magdalene Laundries, along with the revelations of a vast conspiracy to cover up allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children being carried out by members of the clergy. The Church as an institution, for all its posturing statements over the last number of years, will have to do something drastic if it is to recover from the various scandals that have hit it and continue to do so. One can clearly chart its decline in some of the latest figures regarding religious worship in Ireland.

Christopher Hitchens Was No Angel

When Christopher Eric Hitchens passed away on December 15th of last year, his death from oesophageal cancer, whilst expected, did nonetheless come as a shock to many given his firm resoluteness in battling the disease. The eulogies in his memory came in rapid succession, each one seemingly revealing another level of his irreverent and upstart nature. He was remembered as, “…one of the greatest orators of all time. He was a polymath, a wit, immensely knowledgeable, and a valiant fighter against all tyrants including imaginary supernatural ones.”, by Richard Dawkins, with Stephen Fry noting that he was someone who “…opened up debate and gave voice to ideas and causes that without his talents would have been less ventilated and less understood.” Tony Blair also had the kindest of words to say about Hitchens, memorialising that he was “fearless in the pursuit of truth and any cause in which he believed.” For someone considered within the atheist movement to be one of the “Four Horsemen of the New Atheism”, it appeared that a hagiography of Hitchens was being written after, and even immediately prior, to his death. Despite being held up as a paragon of scepticism, rationality, and honesty, in the last decade of his life Hitchens was none of this. Instead, his rational faculties were seemingly suspended as he became a right-wing cheerleader for American-led Western invasions in the Middle East directly after 9/11.