Book review – McDonald and Sheridan, The Builders (2009)

Daniel O'TooleDaniel O’Toole is a UCD Law with European Studies student. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

McDonald, Frank & Sheridan, Kathy (2009) The Builders: How a Small Group of Property Developers Fuelled the Building Boom and Transformed Ireland. London: Penguin.

Who were the main people responsible for the astounding rise and subsequent demise of the Irish property sector during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ years? The Builders comprises a series of articles by Irish Times journalists Frank McDonald and Kathy Sheridan, and details the journeys of several high-profile property developers involved in the Irish construction boom of the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Continue reading

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Book review – Gilmore, Inside the Room (2015)

Jack PowerJack Power is a UCD History Joint Major student. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Gilmore, Éamon (2015) Inside the Room: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Crisis Government, Dublin, Merrion Press.

Eamon Gilmore’s memoir Inside the Room, despite its several shortcomings, provides an interesting read for any politico. The book was penned by Gilmore presumably in an attempt to justify the Labour Party’s efforts in government with the public. It offers a look behind both the doors of the coalition government and into the Labour Party backroom, and if one can cut through the haze of Gilmore’s own political spin, the book can go a long way to explaining the Labour Party’s fall from grace. Continue reading

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Book review – Healy et al, Ireland Says Yes (2015)

Katie RabascaKatie Rabasca is a Study Abroad Engineering student at UCD. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Healy, Gráinne, Sheehan, Brian & Whelan, Noel (2015) Ireland Says Yes: The Inside Story of How the Vote for Marriage Equality Was Won, Dublin, Irish Academic Press/ Merrion Press.

On May 23, 2015, twenty-two years after homosexuality was decriminalized, Irish citizens voted to amend their constitution so that same-sex marriage would be recognized. In Ireland Says Yes, Gráinne Healy, Brian Sheehan, and Noel Whelan, insiders and activists, record the journey of the Yes Equality campaign towards the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015. They take us through the campaign from the Constitutional Convention in April 2013, where advocates for marriage equality convinced the delegates to request a constitutional amendment from the government to include same sex marriage, through to the dramatic outcome of the count on May 23, 2015. The narrative is based on a series of personal anecdotes from campaign workers and volunteers, as well as their reactions to major events. The book had an incredibly fast turnaround: it was published on November 30 2015, only five months after the referendum was passed. It has some signs of having been written very quickly, but despite this Ireland says Yes is an insightful and personal look at the Yes side of the campaign. Continue reading

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Book review – O’Toole, Ship of Fools (2010)

Natasha GamboaNatasha Gamboa is a Politics and International Relations student. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

O’Toole, Fintan (2010) Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger, London, Faber and Faber.

Ireland became the envy of the world with the advent of the ‘Celtic Tiger’. Ireland quickly went from being one of the poorest countries with one of the slowest growing economies in the European Union to having a national income that was (on paper at least) triple that of the European average in 2004. However, this all came to a magnificent crash when the Irish property bubble burst. Ship of Fools – How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger sets out to explain all of this in a clear and concise way. The chapters are written as individual essays, each exploring a different topic or a different aspect of the story of the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger. O’Toole exposes the bad decisions that were made during this time, and provides revelation after revelation of the corruption, greed, and sheer foolishness that caused the Celtic Tiger to sink. Continue reading

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Book review – Leahy, The Price of Power (2013)

NNiamh Richardsoniamh Richardson is a UCD Politics Joint Major. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Leahy, Pat (2013) The Price of Power: Inside Ireland’s Crisis Coalition, Dublin, Penguin.

As we reached a political saturation point in Spring 2016 with blanket coverage of the election campaign, and with the government so keen to remind the electorate of the crisis context in which they took power five years ago, it was an interesting time to consider their early period in office, chronicled by Pat Leahy in The Price of Power. This book charts the disastrous dying days of the Fianna Fáil-Green administration, the formation of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition amidst a ‘national interest’ discourse, and its early efforts to reduce the costs of Ireland’s bailout deal. It concludes with the political fallout from the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill and the Meath East by-election. Continue reading

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Book review – Healy et al, Ireland Says Yes (2015)

Oliver ClarkeOliver Clarke is a UCD Politics and History Joint Major. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Healy, Gráinne, Sheehan, Brian & Whelan, Noel (2015) Ireland Says Yes: The Inside Story of How the Vote for Marriage Equality Was Won, Dublin, Irish Academic Press/ Merrion Press.

The Marriage Equality Referendum which took place on 22nd May 2015 was a seminal moment in Irish politics. The referendum on whether to allow two people regardless of their sex to be married was passed by a convincing margin of 62 per cent to 38 per cent. This was a victory for all gay people in the country and in turn inspired many other Western countries to seek marriage equality in their nations. Ireland was the first country in the world to pass marriage equality legislation by popular vote, which made international headlines. Many people worked hard to lobby and seek change in homosexual couples’ marital status over the decades, from politicians to awareness groups, and this victory was their reward. Indeed, the scenes at Dublin Castle post-referendum illustrate the joy, relief, and sheer euphoria experienced by all those who sought marriage equality. The outcome also signified something wider for many people, which is that homosexuals need no longer feel they had to suppress who they really were; many of those who had been afraid of coming out as gay to family and friends experienced a newfound confidence. Ireland Says Yes: The Inside Story of How the Vote for Marriage Equality Was Won is written by the three leaders of the Yes Equality campaign, Gráinne Healy, Brian Sheehan, and Noel Whelan, and it chronicles the inside story of the referendum campaign. This book is an excellent account of the work that went into running the Yes Equality campaign, from the leadership of the campaign right down to the local canvassers. Continue reading

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Book review – Burke, Irish Apartheid (2009)

Triona MackenTriona Macken is a UCD Politics Joint Major. The best book reviews written as part of the course requirements for POL30080 Irish Politics and Policy are posted here to let UCD students contribute to critical reflection on key issues in Irish political and social life.

Burke, Sara (2009) Irish Apartheid: Healthcare Inequality in Ireland, Dublin, New Island.

In this book Sara Burke, a journalist in health matters, provides both a lay person’s and an academic’s guide to understanding the complexities of the Irish health system. Throughout the book she is critical of how successive ministers failed to deliver a comprehensive public health service. She is particularly critical of the health strategies of governments from 2001 to 2007 which escalated inequalities. Her book, written in 2009 at the onset of the Great Recession, gives an authoritative perspective on health policies during the years of boom. This gives us a good context in which to understand what has happened since the crisis. Continue reading

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SPIRe Starts Podcast Series

podcast

UCD’s School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe) is excited to be bringing to its students and the wider academic community its own Podcast series, aimed at providing an insight into the workings of the oldest and largest school of its kind in the Republic of Ireland.

The PoliticalScience.ie Podcast, named after SPIRe’s Blog, is presented by Dr. Alex Dukalskis and features monthly interviews with School staff as well as students and visiting scholars.

 

The first episode is available now on Soundcloud, with guest Dr. Iseult Honohan.

Iseult Honohan

Iseult Honohan has been a lecturer and researcher in Normative Political Theory at SPIRe for over 25 years. On the eve of her retirement from teaching, Iseult discusses both her research interests and memorable moments from her career in UCD.

The next Podcast episode will be up in the month of February.

 

 

 

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SPIRe Seminars Spring 2016

SPIRe is delighted to announce its Spring series of Seminars, featuring a wide variety of speakers and topics.  Kicking off the series on Thursday 28th January will be Prof. Don Abelson from the University of Western Ontario, who will be presenting on “The relationship between think tanks and US presidential candidates”. This Seminar will take place at 3pm in G316, Newman Building.

UCD Seminars Spring 2016
UCD Seminars Spring 2016
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Bringing Science into the European Parliament

Paul Walsh_2There is an increasing awareness that the research undertaken in Universities does not easily find its way into policy making.  One reason given is that Science is targeting Web of Science publications and citations run by private publishing houses.  Science is not written or even meant for policy makers. Yet, funders and Universities are under increasing pressure to show that their research has an impact on the economy, society and the environment in and outside of the EU.  Academics note that Parliamentarians seem to be more interested in taking advice from consultants and political advisors on issues of the day, dictated by short term political cycles, rather than addressing medium and long term challenges that people and planet are facing. Bureaucratic sides of governments seem to have lost interest in academic inputs in policy agenda setting and implementation but this varies by country.

In a world hit by global financial crisis, disease, conflict over natural resources, migration and climate change, medium to long term planning needs to be more centre stage.  Science, Technology and Innovation are the instruments of the much needed transformative change.  The recent UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is very clear that we need a Science Policy Interface to be central to the implementation and monitoring and review of the SD Agenda. The High Level Political Forum will bring UN Major Groups and Political Leaders together to guide the Agenda and it will need Science to guide the process.

With a similar vision in mind the ‘MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme’ organised by the Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament (EP) want dialogues to take place directly between Scientists and the MEPs.

We are in the fourth round of STOA’s ‘MEP-Scientist Pairing Scheme’, which aims to promote a culture of science-based policy-making in the European Parliament by helping create lasting links between scientists and MEPs. The project raises awareness of politically relevant, cutting-edge scientific issues by creating a structured dialogue between scientists and policy-makers in the European Parliament.

There is an annual call for Scientists to be considered for the register.  The MEPs then select a Scientist. During 2016 thirty three pairs of MEPs and Scientists have been established. The list is published on the STOA website

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/stoa/

Professor Patrick Paul Walsh, University College Dublin, Political Science,   in the area of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Interface, with a special focus on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, has been paired with Julie Girling  (European Conservatives and Reformists Group, UK),

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/96956/JULIE_GIRLING_home.html

During the structured program the paired scientists will have an opportunity of getting acquainted with the workings of the European Parliament’s committees and research services. They will shadow their MEP counterparts in their daily activities.  The scientists will to present their research activities to their MEP counterparts and plan an outgoing Science Policy dialogue.

This structured MEP-Scientist Pairing is likely to create a formal space in the European Parliament where Science Policy Interfaces can to make important contributions to European Policy Making.

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