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The best analysis of the Irish political scene featuring Irish Times reporters and columnists, outside experts and political guests. Also on this channel: Inside Story, an occasional series examining major news stories and how we cover them.

The best analysis of the Irish political scene featuring Irish Times reporters and columnists, outside experts and political guests. Also on this channel: Inside Story, an occasional series examining major news stories and how we cover them.
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The best analysis of the Irish political scene featuring Irish Times reporters and columnists, outside experts and political guests. Also on this channel: Inside Story, an occasional series examining major news stories and how we cover them.




Interview: Cody Keenan, Speechwriter for Barack Obama

Cody Keenan has been a speechwriter for President Barack Obama for more than a decade, rising from a campaign intern in Chicago to Director of Speechwriting at the White House. Keenan has helped craft the president’s remarks on every topic for every audience, from backyards in Iowa, to State of the Union addresses. Now he is helping President Obama write a memoir of his time in the Oval Office. On today’s podcast Keenan speaks to Hugh Linehan about getting his start with Obama, what he...


Labour's Leadership, Presidential Potentials

It’s a quiet week on the political front, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening. Brendan Howlin’s leadership of Labour has come into question of late, with a number of councillors calling for him to stand aside. But as the party seeks to renew itself, who is likely to replace him? Also today: As the impending presidential contest gains pace, who will win the nomination to do battle with Michael D. Higgins? And, what are the questions he will have to answer in the debates? Guests:...


Breaking Down a Border Poll

Former Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson was criticised for telling the MacGill Summer School last month that he did not think the North would vote to leave the UK in a Border poll but it was no reason not to prepare for the eventuality. As the Brexit deadline approaches, what is the feeling in Northern Ireland on the issue? Has the DUP's support for Brexit backfired? And, what would a road map for unification would actually look like? Also today, rumblings of a leadership heave...


Sipo, Amnesty and "Foreign Money" / Colm O'Gorman on Pope Francis's Visit

First we look at the news that broke yesterday that Amnesty International Ireland has won its challenge to an order made by the Standards in Public Office Commission, or Sipo. Sipo ordered Amnesty to return money to a foreign donor as it was given to be used 'for political purposes'. The news raises questions about how Sipo came to its flawed decision but also about how we control the flow of money in our politics. Hugh discusses these issues with Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty, Liz Carolan of...


Fintan O'Toole on "Pre-Fascism" & The Yeats Test

Fintan O'Toole's recent column about the characteristics of the Trump Administration, entitled 'Trial runs for fascism are in full flow' has found a large international audience. He talks to Hugh Linehan about what he sees as Donald Trump's method for gradually pushing the United States further towards authoritarianism. There's also time to consider whether W.B. Yeats foretold the ascendance of Donald Trump, and a novel use of his poetry in today's troubled world. You can read the original...


Different Schools of Thought

Last weekend in Rialto a new event took place: The Danielle Carroll Summer School. Named in honour of a woman who took her own life after her and her family become homeless, focussed on social issues and featuring all-female speakers, the event was quite different in theme and tone to this week's MacGill Summer School in Glenties, County Donegal. Hugh talks to Kitty Holland, who was at the Rialto event, and Conor Gallagher, who is in Glenties this week, about the events and the place of...


Chaos in Westminster, Slow-Moving Slaintecare

This week: Turmoil at Westminster means Ireland’s plans for a ‘no deal’ Brexit have stepped up a gear. The Tories were supposed to unite behind Theresa May’s Chequers deal and Brexit white paper, but that plan unravelled spectacularly and instead the Prime Minister finds herself presiding over an increasingly divided government. Denis Staunton is on the line from London to talk to Hugh and Pat about what has happened in Westminster and what it might mean for the Border backstop, which has...


"Women's Life Within the Home", Race for The Áras

This week: Hot on the heels of the #8thRef, the government has scheduled a referendum for October 26th on Article 41.2 of the Constitution. It refers to a woman’s life in the home and is considered sexist and outmoded by many. The government is pushing for a straight deletion of the Article, but has there been enough discussion around what that actually means? The Oireachtas Women’s Caucus feels they weren’t consulted enough on the matter and there is an argument for the Article to be...


"Freewheeling" Varadkar Attacks the Media

The Taoiseach went off-script in New York yesterday, sympathising with Donald Trump’s views on the media and spoiling an otherwise unremarkable visit to make Ireland’s case for joining the UN Security Council. In a “freewheeling” discussion, Leo Varadkar surprised guests at a private lunch when he criticised the media, saying political journalists were more interested in gossip than the story. Now his Ministers say he was taken out of context. What really happened, and what does it tell us...


New Commissioner in Town, Brexit Dawdling & Michael D

The air’s been let out of this week’s EU Summit with no sign of the significant progress on Brexit negotiations that the Irish government had sought when they last convened. With October’s meeting now the next important date on the calendar, is the threat of talks grinding to a halt becoming more real? Will the much vaunted backstop ever materialise? Is the likelihood of a hard Brexit increasing? And, does the British government know what it wants? The Guardian’s Brexit correspondent Lisa...


Interview: James Comey, Former FBI Director

On June 22nd, the man Hillary Clinton blames for her 2016 presidential election defeat to Donald Trump, the former FBI director James Comey, was in Dublin to promote his book A Higher Loyalty. Coincidentally, less than a kilometre away, Clinton was also in town to receive an honorary degree from Trinity College. Comey was interviewed by Hugh Linehan at a live event at the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar. They spoke about his book, the election and his interactions with Donald Trump...


Prudent Paschal, Leo's Public Image & Sinn Féin's Ard Fheis

Sarah and Fiach join Hugh for a roundup of what has been happening in and around Leinster House this week, with preparations for the 2019 budget well underway. Will prudent Paschal Donohoe stick with his hitherto cautious mantra? Also, does Leo Varadkar’s tactic of standing back and letting his ministers do the talking impact on the public’s perception of him? And, there’s a bit of healthy disagreement in the ranks on a number of things, including the Taoiseach’s role in the recent...


The Separation of Church & State

As the country moves on from the resounding Yes vote in the referendum to repeal the Eighth amendment and with plans for another referendum on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution in the autumn, Ireland is dramatically renegotiating the relationship between Church and State. As Irish Catholics look forward to the Papal visit at the end of the summer, what does the future of that relationship between the institutions of the State, the political establishment and...


The Political Landscape after the Referendum

Thousands of women and young people mobilised for the referendum campaign, but will many remain politically active in its aftermath? Sinead Gibney, the new Dún Laoghaire candidate for the Social Democrats, joins Hugh, Pat and Harry to discuss what lasting impact of the campaign will have on the political process. Also, with a general election looming somewhere on the horizon, is the Left becoming too crowded?


Referendum Debrief with Una Mullally, Pat Leahy, Jane Suiter & Sarah Bardon

One final Friday referendum podcast. Columnist Una Mullally and DCU political scientist Jane Suiter join Hugh, Pat and Sarah to debate what really happened. How did the media fulfil its role? What were the decisive factors in voters' minds, and can the success of the grassroots campaign for liberalisation be parlayed into electoral success for the politicians who supported the people?


"A Lot of My Colleagues Didn't Show Leadership" - One Fianna Fáil TD's Blunt Assessment

It will take a few podcasts to digest the historic referendum results of last weekend. Today we begin by looking at what lies behind the divergence between opinion polls and the final result. Then Michael O'Regan has the view from rural constituencies like Kerry where many TDs were left at odds with the majority. And we turn to Fianna Fail and reports of an unhappy meeting last night as the party struggles to figure out what its position on abortion should be. Is the party at risk of a...


Referendum Special with Kitty Holland, Fintan O'Toole, Sarah Bardon & Pat Leahy

The count is underway but the result is not in doubt. Social Affairs correspondent Kitty Holland, columnist Fintan O'Toole and Sarah Bardon and Pat Leahy from our politics team talk to Hugh about the ramifications of the resounding vote to remove our constitutional ban on abortion.


Exit Poll: A Landslide for Repeal

The people have voted to repeal the 8th Amendment. But not only that. If the results of The Irish Times exit poll are borne out when the final vote is counted, the scale of the victory for Yes in this referendum points to a profound transformation in Irish attitudes to abortion.


The Story of The 8th with Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (October 2016)

"One of the most poisonous debates witnessed in twentieth century Ireland" is how historian Diarmaid Ferriter described the run-up to the passing of the 8th Amendment in 1983. Against a backdrop of intense political division, moral outrage and conflicting understandings of how a rebalancing of the rights of a woman and an unborn child would play out in public courts and private lives, the referendum passed with a two to one majority. When the Citizens' Assembly first met in October 2016 to...


Debate Drama, Pat v Sarah, Mick Heaney on Referendum Radio

Which side won last night's referendum debate on RTÉ? Pat Leahy sees it as a tie, while Sarah Bardon calls it for Yes. The deciding vote is cast by our radio critic Mick Heaney, who also tells us about the how the referendum battle has played out on the airwaves. But first Sarah explains the strange goings-on that resulted in two male politicians going head to head over abortion.