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Irish Times Inside Politics

News & Politics Podcasts

The best analysis of the Irish political scene featuring Irish Times journalists, political thinkers and the occasional politician. Hosted by Arts & Culture Editor Hugh Linehan.

The best analysis of the Irish political scene featuring Irish Times journalists, political thinkers and the occasional politician. Hosted by Arts & Culture Editor Hugh Linehan.




The best analysis of the Irish political scene featuring Irish Times journalists, political thinkers and the occasional politician. Hosted by Arts & Culture Editor Hugh Linehan.




Mother and Baby Homes: “The overall picture is not as it should be”

Five months on from the final report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, controversy still surrounds the methodology used by the three inquiry members, the treatment of witness statements and the conclusions reached regarding the culpability of church and state. Members of the commission have not replied to calls to appear before an Oireachtas committee, despite the appearance of Prof Mary Daly at an online Oxford seminar last week. In today’s episode, Hugh is joined by...


Niall Ferguson: We’re obsessed with mass disaster, yet surprised when it happens

Historian Niall Ferguson’s new book 'Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe' offers a sweeping compendium of the many appalling catastrophes that have befallen mankind, and how we have dealt with their aftermath. He talks to Hugh about his book, Covid and the possibility of a war between China and the US.


The race for Dublin Bay South

With the Dublin Bay South byelection looking likely to take place in early July, Harry McGee and Jennifer Bray join Hugh for a deep-dive on the competitive constituency, as parties vie for the seat left vacant by the former housing minister Eoghan Murphy.


Will Sinn Féin lead the next government?

Today the team take a look at what role Sinn Féin will play in forming the next government. Although there is a widespread assumption in political circles and elsewhere that Mary Lou McDonald’s party will take the majority, will their path to power be that straightforward? And if there is a Sinn Féin led government, what will it look like and how will they tackle issues on their change agenda? Joining Hugh to discuss this is Jen, Pat and Aidan Regan, Associate Professor of Political Economy...


Panic in government as politicians feel the heat over housing

Jennifer Bray, Pat Leahy and Kevin Cunningham join Hugh to talk about how the government is struggling to come up with a coherent response to the housing crisis.


How Not To Be Wrong - with James O’Brien

British broadcaster and writer James O’Brien has built a loyal listenership on his LBC radio programme, dissecting the opinions of callers live on air every day. In his 2018 book, How To Be Right... in a World gone Wrong, he set out his opinions on Islam, Brexit, political correctness, LGBT issues, feminism, Trump and other flash points. Now his latest book, How Not To Be Wrong, is a personal account about the importance of being able to change your mind. In today’s podcast, O’Brien talks to...


Housing crisis overtakes Covid as number one priority

The political focus has shifted from the pandemic to the housing crisis, with Taoiseach Micheal Martin this week declaring it the Government’s “number one priority”. Jack Horgan Jones and Pat Leahy join Hugh to discuss the political decisions and policy failures that have led to the crisis and the resulting generational divide. But first, not escaping Covid entirely, the team take a look at the debate surrounding the role and reliability of antigen testing, the possibility of accelerating...


UK election special: Labour's leadership crisis and Scotland's referendum mandate

Denis Staunton talks to Hugh about the results of last Friday's local and regional elections in England, Scotland and Wales. The results have thrown up many stories, including how Labour's leader Keir Starmer contrived to turn a setback into a leadership crisis, and how pro-independence politicians increase their dominance of the Scottish parliament.


How will global tax reform affect Ireland?

For decades, Ireland has used a low corporation tax rate to attract foreign direct investment. That is now threatened by a major tax reform plan announced by US president Joe Biden, which proposes to tax the overseas earnings of US corporations at 21 per cent. Talks are also taking place at the OECD on a global minimum level of corporate tax, which is expected to be higher than the 12.5 per cent rate defended by successive Irish governments. To discuss the changing face of global tax and...


Foster's exit bodes poorly for north-south relations

What led to Arlene Foster's ouster this week, who will succeed her and what will it mean for politics on the island? To find out we talk to Sam McBride of the Belfast Newsletter. Then Pat Leahy and Jennifer Bray look at the other big political news of the week: the major moves towards reopening the country, and the surprise resignation of Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy. The former housing minister's departure means an intriguing byelection will happen later this year.


Heroes or Zeros? Discussing Ireland's Covid strategy with ISAG's prof Aoife McLysaght

For much of the pandemic, the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) has recommended that Ireland should aggressively suppress virus transmission as part of a zero-Covid policy. That strategy has, however, failed to find favour with either the Government or health officials. As we prepare for the next phase of reopening in May, ISAG spokesperson, professor Aoife McLysaght, talks to Hugh about what the group would do differently, why one wrong step now could quickly lead to disaster...


'Politics on the Couch' - with Rafael Behr

To what extent can political beliefs and behaviour be understood through the science of psychology and the study of human cognition? In today’s episode, Hugh talks to award-winning political columnist and host of the excellent Politics on the Couch podcast, Rafael Behr, about the way our minds respond to politics and how psychology drives everyone’s political thought and behaviour.


Should we worry about the deficit? - with David McWilliams

Since coronavirus, governments around the globe have abandoned traditional concerns about deficits and enacted emergency measures in the interest of saving countries from the devastating effects of lockdowns. But in a post-pandemic Ireland, what should the role of the state be? Will the Covid crisis help bring to an end the old economic orthodoxies, or will there be return to a smaller state, balanced budgets and deficit reduction? Economist and The Irish Times columnist David McWilliams...


US politics special with John Dickerson, CBS reporter and author of "The Hardest Job in the World"

CBS News political reporter, Slate Political Gabfest panelist and proud Irish-American John Dickerson talks to Hugh about the office of President of the United States, which is the subject of his book "The Hardest Job in the World". He explains how the role has evolved in complexity and now places impossible demands on whoever holds it. They also discuss how the Trump presidency warped political journalism, and the significance of President Biden's Irish-American identity.


A very bad week for the Government's Covid-19 policy

The Government's Covid-19 policy was dealt a double blow this week, as it was forced to pause the mandatory hotel quarantine system and issues with two vaccines threw the planned inoculation programme into doubt. Hugh is joined by Jennifer Bray and Jack Horgan-Jones from The Irish Times political team to discuss the latest hurdles the coalition must overcome to keep its coronavirus plan on track. Also on today's show: what does the future hold for the Fianna Fáil party?


Understanding the loyalist grievances that led to violence in Belfast - with Newton Emerson

It's not just Brexit, or the Bobby Storey funeral, or the constant talk of a border poll. Many factors fed into this week's violence and rioting on the streets of Belfast. The violent clashes involved youths from loyalist and nationalist areas, but today's conversation with Newton Emerson focuses on the roots of the anger and disillusionment felt by the working-class loyalist community, and the role of criminal gangs in fomenting violence against the PSNI.


Quarantine clashes and vaccine targets

The debate surrounding mandatory hotel quarantine rumbles on between government departments, but what are the logistical, legal and diplomatic issues at stake? Will the introduction of a vaccine passport or a digital green certificate be enough to smooth over the cracks? And with the long promised ramp up in vaccinations now on the horizon, will the government be able to keep up with their ambitious targets? Our political team made up of Jen, Pat and Cormac join Hugh to discuss.


The psychology and the politics behind this week's Covid-19 moves

Behavioral economist Pete Lunn and political correspondent Jennifer Bray join Hugh to talk about the government's major moves in the Covid-19 fight this week: the easing of some restrictions, particularly around outdoor activities, and the simplification of the vaccine rollout, favouring older people over particular groups such as teachers, Gardaí or carers. Pete, who advises Nphet on how the population might respond to Covid-19 regulations, explains why the hope is the relaxing of...


A moment of triumph and peril for the Greens

Last week was a very good one for the Green Party, but you could be forgiven for getting the opposite impression. Today, Hugh and guests spend a little time on the party's dangerous internal divisions (as demonstrated by the spat over party member and Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu's unsanctioned run for a Seanad seat) and more time on the significance of the Climate Action Bill, the piece of legislation published last week that is a major achievement for the party and its leader Eamon Ryan....


Is free speech under threat?

In his new book Free Speech and Why it Matters, Andrew Doyle questions a new form of social justice activism, which as he puts it, casually disregards the principle of free speech for the sake of what is perceived to be a higher social priority. In today’s episode, the author and podcaster joins Hugh for a discussion on 'wokeness' and cancel culture, self-censorship and where the limitations of acceptable speech should be drawn.