A woman and child pass a British soldier in the republican New Lodge district of Belfast in 1978. Photograph: Alex Bowie/Getty Images

One of the disconcerting things about Brexit is its capacity constantly to rewrite the script of political dysfunction. The latest government proposals won’t work. They do represent a significant concession, but create an incoherent muddle leading to a bizarre outcome.

Northern Ireland would remain part of Europe’s single market but Britain would leave it. There would be regulatory checks down the Irish Sea but not at the Irish border. There would however be customs checks, so the border would not be open as now. And Northern Ireland’s membership of the single market could be unilaterally revoked by its assembly, which is not presently able to constitute itself, and so the whole plan is subject to the notorious vagaries of Northern Irish politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Ireland’s modern dismay is at rampant inequality.’ Graffiti by the Irish artist ADW on construction hoardings behind the Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin, September 2019. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

There’s a reason that “Was it for this?” remains one of WB Yeats’s most recited fragments of poetry in Ireland. The line comes from Yeats’s September 1913, which poured scorn on how the greed and hypocrisies of the business class had replaced the romanticism of previous Irish generations.

Ireland’s modern dismay, however, is at rampant and growing inequality, and the way in which its cities and cultural spaces are being hollowed out by speculation, gentrification, poor or absent planning and squandered opportunities.

After five years of what could justifiably be called social revolution in Ireland, the cliche is that the country responded uniquely to the crippling austerity that followed the 2008 financial crash, not with anti-immigrant populism but with progressive politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s prime minister, met with Boris Johnson, his British counterpart, in Dublin in September.CreditCreditPhil Noble/Reuters

When Boris Johnson visited Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, in Dublin last month as part of a last-minute scramble to reach some sort of Brexit deal, the two leaders began their day with a media briefing on the steps of one of Dublin’s grandest buildings. In the Edwardian Baroque style, it was built by the British authorities while the Irish were intensifying their struggle for independence. “Fortuitously,” the Heritage Ireland website snarkily notes, “the complex was completed in 1922 and was available immediately to be occupied by the new Irish Free State government.” Rarely has the word “fortuitously” elided so much.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police Service of Northern Ireland officers look at a burnt car in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in 2002, after Catholic and Protestant rioters clashed with police overnight. (Peter Morrison/AP)

Fifty years ago this month, the British government sent troops to Northern Ireland to impose control as relations broke down between Protestants and Catholics. The ensuing violence, known as “the Troubles,” lasted 33 years and led to over 3,000 deaths, including 1,617 in Belfast alone. Why did Northern Ireland — a jurisdiction of an advanced industrial nation — suffer such sustained violence? In new research, we examine one important factor. Catholics and Protestants lived side by side, but they had very few social or economic ties across the communities. This meant geographic proximity bred violence instead of mutual tolerance.

The Troubles were sparked by tit-for-tat violence

To understand the Northern Ireland conflict, you need to know a little history.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the last couple weeks, strange things have been happening in Ireland. A mysterious organization called the Irish Tax Agency launched a Facebook campaign to advertise how Irish tax authorities gave preferential treatment to international property investors. The Sunday Business Post revealed Ireland’s economic development agency, the IDA, was paying for changes to Wikipedia pages about itself and its chief executive. It had gotten caught up in an “edit war” with a Wikipedia user who kept on making edits “linking Ireland and its stakeholders to negative stories, particularly on economics, taxation and Brexit.”

For a long time, Ireland has used taxes to aggressively attract incoming investment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lecciones del Acuerdo de Viernes Santo

Hace 21 años que firmamos el Acuerdo de Viernes Santo, junto con dirigentes y activistas de los dos países que gobernábamos, que tanto se habían esforzado para alcanzar la paz. Fue un momento trascendental. Pero aquel histórico 10 de abril de 1998 no fue solo el fin de un proceso, sino el comienzo de otro. La gente de Irlanda del Norte y la República de Irlanda han seguido forjando el acuerdo cada día. Una paz duradera no se construye con unas cuantas firmas sobre el papel, sino con las acciones y relaciones diarias de las personas, las empresas, la sociedad, los políticos y los Gobiernos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Street fighting against British soldiers in 1971 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Credit Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos

Two weeks ago I was on the outskirts of Derry, a town in Northern Ireland, just a few yards away from the border where Britain ends and the Republic of Ireland begins. Behind a garden wall, a wiry, older man was eager to vent.

“This is Ireland! The English have no business here,” he exclaimed. He pointed down the road toward a small stone bridge. The checkpoint there vanished two decades ago, he said. Should the British try to erect a new guard house, he went on, “we will burn it down.”

Come on, I cajoled him, incredulously. What will really happen if, after Britain leaves the European Union, customs officers or the police might be stationed at what will then be a new border?…  Seguir leyendo »

Crosses for Irish republicans who died in the hunger strike at the Maze prison in Belfast in 1981 are part of a memorial in County Armagh. Rob Stothard for The New York Times.

My friend Sean, like a lot of people in Ireland, tells a good story. He used to work for the National Roads Authority; they couldn’t call it the Irish Roads Authority, he liked to joke, because the abbreviation “I.R.A.” was already taken.

In 2010, Sean organized an event to celebrate the completion of a highway linking Dublin to Belfast, in Northern Ireland. You could now commute between the two capital cities, which had once seemed worlds apart, in under two hours. One of the grandees invited to celebrate on a stretch of road outside Newry in the north was Martin McGuinness, the former Irish Republican Army gunman who, like a number of ex-paramilitaries, had reinvented himself as a politician and helped engineer the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to the three-decade conflict known as the Troubles in 1998.…  Seguir leyendo »

El punto crucial del acuerdo de retirada de Reino Unido de la UE (y también el que ha causado mayor rechazo en el seno del partido conservador británico) es el denominado backstop;el mecanismo que impide que el mantenimiento de la supresión de controles fronterizos, acordado de forma transitoria, pueda ser derogado de forma unilateral por Reino Unido si no hay una alternativa acordada adecuada a la ausencia de los mismos (alternativa que ni el Gobierno británico ni nadie ha conseguido identificar de manera creíble). Mantener la libertad de circulación mediante la Zona Común de Viaje (Common Travel Area, CTA) mencionada en el artículo 5 del acuerdo de retirada es bueno para la UE, pero, sobre todo, es la respuesta a la demanda irrenunciable de la que el Gobierno irlandés ha hecho bandera.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Sinn Fein party at the First Dail Eireann, Ireland’s first self-governing assembly.CreditCreditHulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis, via Getty Images

In 1916, Irish nationalists sparked the Easter Rising, a bloody revolt against the British, who had controlled Ireland for some 700 years. They failed in their immediate goal — and many of them were executed or jailed in retribution — but the violence left behind a wave of separatist sentiment across the island. Three years later, with the ink from the armistice ending World War I still drying and President Woodrow Wilson calling for “political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike,” the surviving nationalists realized they had a second chance. On Jan. 21, 1919, they declared independence.…  Seguir leyendo »

A pedestrian walked last year past a billboard in west Belfast erected by Sinn Féin, calling for a special status for northern Ireland with respect to Brexit. (Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

If anyone needs tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season, it is the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland. The unique challenges posed by the Irish border vexed more than 18 months of Brexit negotiations and could still scupper a deal. As the end game nears, the peace process is not a price worth paying.

When Ireland gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1921, the six northern counties comprising Northern Ireland remained part of the union. Its status has remained contested — with more than 3,600 killed during decades of violence known as the Troubles — between the Protestant and predominantly unionist community, and the Catholic and largely nationalist one.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last month, some video footage went viral in Ireland of a group of English men verbally abusing young women at a Dublin housing crisis protest. The men, it turned out, were part of a bachelor party who had come from Bristol and seemed to be dressed intentionally to look like a cartoon of landed gentry, in tweeds and the loudly colored trousers widely beloved by braying men of a certain kind.

It would have been a strange incident in any case, these English men who look like relics of the landlord class shouting at young Irish people rendered desperate because of skyrocketing rents, but it was to become more absurd still.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters against clerical sexual child abuse in Ireland, at a rally in Dublin on Sunday.CreditCreditPaulo Nunes dos Santos for The New York Times

On Sunday, while the faithful gathered for mass with Pope Francis in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, a large group gathered in the city’s Garden of Remembrance at an event called Stand for Truth. The railings had been hung with dozens of tiny pairs of baby shoes.

Colm O’Gorman, who runs the Irish office of Amnesty International, organized the event. He told the crowd that he had been 13 years old, and deeply religious, when Pope John Paul II visited in 1979 — the last time a pope visited Ireland. “I was in a liturgical group,” he said. “The church was in every part of my life.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sun setting behind a power station in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Getty Images.

Ireland currently has an €8 billon national investment fund with an estimated €300 million invested in fossil fuel shares. Under the bill, the government will be required to sell its investments in fossil fuels. How significant is this in terms of Ireland’s stocks and shares in non-renewable energy?

This decision relates to Ireland’s national investment fund which has specific objectives like making investments that have a positive economic impact. The new bill is the result of civil society and multi-party support for the idea that the investments in fossil fuels are in conflict with Ireland’s commitment to the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

When “Britannia ruled the waves”, Matthew Arnold defined the “English genius” as “steadiness with honesty”, in contrast to the Celtic character, “an indomitable reaction against the despotism of fact”. As the Brexit countdown accelerates with no detailed UK proposals forthcoming, the situation has reversed. The consequences for Ireland, both the Republic that will remain in the European Union and Northern Ireland that must leave, are forcing Brexiters to react reluctantly to the despotism of fact, while Ireland and the EU maintain a steady honesty about what Brexit means. The Irish situation has focused the EU’s approach to negotiations, stymied the British approach and forged a new role and identity for Ireland in the EU.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman from the “Yes” campaign reacts after the final result was announced after the Irish referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution in Dublin on May 26. (Peter Morrison/AP)

I was in Dublin in May 2015, on the day that Ireland held a referendum on same-sex marriage. The “yes” vote — in favor of allowing gays to marry — won resoundingly. That night, I walked through a street party which took over the city center. People spilled out of the pubs, sat on the curbs, talked and laughed. I was in town for a literary festival and asked one of the people who’d invited me how she had voted. She’d voted yes, she told me, though not because she was particularly invested in same-sex marriage. Instead, she said, “I wanted to show the Catholic Church that they don’t rule us anymore.”

Something like that has just happened again, though this time the issue at stake appeared even more controversial.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mary Lou McDonald, the new Sinn Féin president, at her parliamentary office in Leinster House in Dublin.CreditFran Veale for The New York Times

On a misty Monday morning in the city’s north end, I am sipping coffee — not the Irish kind — with Mary Lou McDonald, the new president of Sinn Fein and the most exciting person in politics here today. At 5 foot 4, this fast-talking, 49-year-old mother of two is barely a few months into the job and is already being whispered about as the possible first female prime minister of Ireland.

“How great would that be?” she asked, with a laugh. “Well, why not?”

While Britain was busy this week celebrating a fairy-tale princess, Ireland was plunged into two painful and bruising debates about women’s health issues and Ms.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Aer Lingus flight attendant walks past a new mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin on Friday, the day of a referendum on liberalizing Ireland’s abortion laws. Halappanavar’s death after a miscarriage helped spur the referendum. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)

An Irish Times exit poll says Ireland has voted to repeal the constitutional provision banning abortion with a crushing majority. The poll says that 68 percent voted yes and 32 percent voted against. People on both sides had expected a yes vote over the past couple of days; few had expected that the margin would be so decisive. Of course, the exit poll may be wrong, but it is hard to imagine that it could be wrong enough to call the final result into question.

It’s not just the big cities that voted yes

Ireland, like the United States, has very different patterns of voting in urban areas and in the countryside.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mourning Our Daughter, While Ireland Votes

Walking around this city at the moment involves negotiating an unsettling array of campaign posters: Lampposts and billboards are covered in images of fetuses.

The posters have been put up ahead of the referendum on Friday on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which has enshrined the right to life of the unborn in the Irish Constitution since its introduction in 1983.

These images are meant to provoke a strong response, of course, but the sight of so many fetuses on the streets is particularly distressing for us. A few months ago, our daughter, Cara, who suffered from a chromosomal abnormality, died at 20 weeks.…  Seguir leyendo »

Marching in Dublin last year for more liberal Irish abortion laws.CreditClodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

In 1983 the Irish people voted to give a fertilized egg the same right to life as the woman who carries it. Feminists tried to stop it. We argued that crisis pregnancies were a reality of women’s lives and that we needed the right to choose how to deal with them. We said that the constitutional amendment on the ballot, which made abortion illegal unless the mother’s life is in danger, would harm women. We marched and chanted “Get your rosaries off our ovaries.” A Catholic bishop pronounced that the most dangerous place for a baby was in a woman’s womb.…  Seguir leyendo »