MacGill Summer School

2016 Programme

The 36th Annual MacGill Summer School & Arts Week

Saturday July 16th – Friday July 22nd



We have commemorated with pride and dignity the men and women of 1916, their bravery and idealism. We must now move on to continue to build on the achievements of those who came after them and who established an independent state and nurtured it through difficult times. We, a hundred years later, now live in a different environment and, if anything, the challenges are even greater. In the wake of the 2016 general election, a daunting agenda awaits the new government, however it is formed.

The MacGill School, now in its 36th year, will continue with its characteristic wide ranging programme on the theme of reform of our political and administrative institutions. More than fifty eminent contributors from diverse areas of public life in Ireland and abroad will look to the future and put forward their views on the changes needed to adapt to the demands of a changing society and an unstable and turbulent international environment.

Exceptionally, MacGill will run for an extra day, from Saturday July 16th to Friday 22nd, to enable us to pay homage to Brian Friel who, through his theatre and short stories, has left us a wonderfully rich literary legacy. Brian, who reposes in his beloved Glenties, the place he used in his work to create the fictional Ballybeg, was a friend and admirer of the School, which celebrated his achievements on several occasions. We will remember him and celebrate his life and work again, focusing on a neglected part of that work, the highly accomplished short stories, with readings, documentaries, talks and performances.

On the morning of Monday, July 18th, MacGill will get down to its socio-economic and political agenda with a full day’s sessions on the aftermath of the extraordinary 2016 general election concentrating, in particular, on the implications for the future conduct of politics in the republic. Better governance and longer-term planning, making our institutions fit for the purpose of delivering sustainable economic and social progress, will be the dominant themes present throughout the week, as we discuss topics such as: The Future Social and Demographic Profile of Ireland and the imperatives that arise from these forecasts, the Economy, the Housing Crisis, Inequality in Ireland, an Ageing Population, our Health Service, our System of Justice, Rural Ireland and Climate Change.

The theme of Ireland in an unstable world will also feature strongly in this year’s MacGill School, with sessions on the crisis in the European Union including, of course, the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in the UK. The threat to democracy itself in parts of the Union will be high on our agenda. The vast movement of peoples from countries destroyed by war, famine and poverty in search of a new life in Europe has added to the alienation of electorates in some countries and is increasingly expressed by support for extremist parties and groups. And on top of all of this instability and uncertainty is international terrorism, which is one of the gravest problems our age.

Joe Mulholland
Director, MacGill Summer School


MacGill Summer School & Arts Week 2016

Saturday July 16th – Friday July 22nd


Saturday, July 16th

2.00 pm

Stephen Rea talks about the work of Brian Friel
Reading: Among the Ruins by Brian Friel
Musical Interlude: Prelude Op.28 No 15 by Chopin
Beethoven’s Sonata Pathétique No 8 2nd Movement
Arabesque No 1 by Debussy
James O’Malley: Piano

(Grand piano kindly supplied by Limavady Pianos.
For sales and rentals contact Rory at 0044 7710977765)

3.30 pm

The Legacy of Friel
Anthony Roche, Prof Emeritus, English & Drama UCD, author of Brian Friel, Theatre and Politics
Peter Fallon, poet and publisher
Memories of Brian and the Gallery Press project to publish five volumes of the Friel Collected Plays.
MacGill launch of Volume Two

Toast to the Master

5.00 pm

Memories of Dancing At Lughnasa in 1991
New York and Glenties
Rosaleen Linehan, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Brid Brennan
Chair: Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Arts Council

Reading of memorable scenes from the play
By Rosaleen Linehan, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Brid Brennan,
Marion O’Dwyer, Dorothy Duffy and Charlie Bonner
Director: Charlie Bonner

9.00 pm

Making History by Brian Friel
with Denis Conway as Hugh O’Neill
Philip O’Sullivan as Archbishop Lombard
And Tony Flynn, Laura Cameron, Helene Henderson and Des Early
Costumes: Sinead Cuthbert
Stage Manager: Darragh McMahon

(We wish to thank the Arts Council for their assistance in the presentation of this celebration of Brian Friel.)


Sunday, July 17th


A visit to The Laurels in Glenties, home of the McLoone sisters (the Mundy sisters of Dancing at Lughnasa)

Stephen Rea reads:  A Man’s World by Brian Friel

2.00 pm

Seamus Heaney’s memorable tribute to Friel in 2008
Spelling It Out
Philip O’Sullivan reads: The Saucer of Larks by Brian Friel
Musical Interlude: Lieder and songs by Britten, Schubert and Schumann
Deborah Cunningham: Soprano, Evan McGarrigle: Piano

4.30 pm

Screening of the documentary: Brian Friel
Produced by Noel Pearson, Director: Sinead O’Brien

5.00 pm

Denis Conway reads: The Potato Gatherers by Brian Friel

8.00 pm

Official Opening of 36th Annual MacGill Summer School
by H.E. Jean-Pierre Thébault, Ambassador of France

8.30 pm

16th Annual John Hume Lecture
Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fáil

9.30 pm

Making History by Brian Friel
Cast as Saturday 16th July

followed by
Reception (courtesy of the European Commission Representation in Ireland)


Monday, July 18th



11.00 am


Such was the fragmented political landscape resulting from the 2016 General Election that it took weeks of tortuous negotiations to form a government on terms that do not augur well for stable and effective governance. And this at a time when we face enormous challenges as a society and hard choices that would test the resolve of even the most resolute of governments. What did the election tell us about our politics, our political parties, our society and about the electorate who, willingly or unwillingly brought about this stalemate, uncertainty and instability? What role did street protest and anarchic flouting of the law play? More importantly, what does the future hold and how can political instability be prevented and better governance achieved?

Eoin Ó Broin TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Planning & Local Government
Dr Theresa Reidy, Lecturer in Department of Government, NUI, Cork
Regina Doherty TD, Government Chief Whip
Pat Leahy, Deputy Political Editor, Irish Times
Moderator: Noel Whelan, Barrister and Political Analyst

2.30 pm

The sessions on Brian Friel will be introduced by
Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council

Denis Conway reads: The Gold in the Sea by Brian Friel
Musical Interlude: Evan McGarrigle plays set of Carolan pieces and Ballade No.3 by Chopin

3.30 pm **


There has been much talk of ‘new politics’ in recent years but little action; that is until the result of the 2016 election became known. All of a sudden much was heard of Dáil reform as it became clear that whatever government was put in place its relationship to the opposition deputies would have to change. Within days, an all-party forum was devising new procedures for the conduct of parliamentary business and for ensuring that government would be more accountable to the Dáil. Whilst this reform, or indeed any reform, is welcome, will it contribute to raising the quality of debate in our parliament or produce more chaos and more instability? Without more extensive political and administrative reform it is unlikely that the respect for politics and politicians and credibility in policy making can be restored. The electoral system that we have of proportional representation combined with the single transferable vote (PR-STV) spawns clientelism and localism and will not produce the range and quality of talent that might ensure more and better national governance.

Stephen Donnelly TD, co-founder, Social Democrats
Frank Flannery, former Director of Strategy, Fine Gael
Noel Dempsey, former government minister, Fianna Fáil
Moderator: Dr Theresa Reidy, Lecturer in Department of Government, NUI, Cork
** Please note earlier time

5.30 pm 

An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny TD

8.30 pm


Everywhere in Europe, water meters and charges for bringing water to homes and businesses have been a part of everyday life for years. It is not surprising, then, the troika decided that, in line with an EU directive and in order to widen the tax base here, water charges should be introduced. This brought about the realisation that our whole water infrastructure is in a critical state, that a valuable resource is being wasted and that throughout the country raw sewage is being pumped into our lakes, rivers and seas. Successive governments and public authorities have for decades been aware of this major infrastructural time bomb and failed to act. The saga of Irish Water is indicative of the quality of governance in this country and has shone a light on our political system and all that is wrong with it. The flaws in the setting up of the entity as well as the inept responses of government led to open season on Irish Water and encouraged street politics, aggression and lawlessness. The fact that Irish Water now appears to be doing what it ought to do has been put aside and a large question mark hangs over its future and hence over the task of providing water to this and future generations.

Eamon Ryan TD, leader Green Party
Noel Whelan, Barrister and political analyst
Dr Maureen Gaffney, Writer and columnist, Chair, National Economic & Social Forum (NESF)
Dr Eddie Molloy, Management consultant
Moderator: Pat Leahy, Deputy Political Editor, Irish Times


Tuesday, July 19th



11.00 am


The various crises facing our Republic today including those being addressed at MacGill: housing, homelessness, water infrastructure, our healthcare system, policing, the future effects of climate change, are largely self-inflicted difficulties caused by failure in long-term thinking and planning. The electoral cycle appears to dominate our policy implementation to an inordinate degree. As we now take on the monumental task of dealing with this legacy, new challenges are already on our doorstep. In order to begin the long-term planning process, however, we need facts and accurate forecasts to inform policy. It is essential that we know as much as possible about the kind of social and demographic profile that is on the horizon. What do the forecasters see as the major issues over the next decades, which have to be planned for now, not when they are on our doorstep?

Prof Tony Fahey, School of Applied Social Science, UCD
Gerard O’Neill, Chairman, Amarach Research
Padraig Dalton, Director-General, Central Statistics Office
Response: Colm McCarthy, Writer and columnist, lecturer in economics, UCD
Moderator: Mary Finan, former MD Wilson Hartnell, Chair, Gate Theatre

2.30 pm

Denis Conway reads: The Fawn Pup by Brian Friel
Screening of The Magic Sovereign by Brian Friel
(Courtesy of BBC N.I.)
with Liam Clancy, Tommy Makem, Rosaleen Linehan and Joe McPartlan
Produced by David Hammond; Director, Bill Miskelly

4.00 pm


In the past year, the scale and depth of the problem that is homelessness, particularly in the capital, has become apparent. The crisis continues to deepen, as a combination of rent increases, home repossessions and termination of tenancies by vulture funds drive thousands of families and individuals to seek shelter in hostels and in accommodation provided by public and voluntary agencies. The failure of local authorities to build affordable houses and social housing over the past two decades together with the virtual withdrawal of the banks from lending for house building has resulted in a shortfall of tens of thousands of the houses needed. The new government has prioritised housing in its programme and the minister, Simon Coveney, has committed to producing a vision and strategy within 100 days. This strategy must, as a priority, deal with the current crisis but a long-term strategy is needed which would include ongoing provision of social housing and affordable rental accommodation for low and middle income families. The rental market as a whole is in need of clear, comprehensive regulation for the future. On the basis that the population is going to continue to increase, it is imperative that measures are taken to prevent recurring crises like that which we have witnessed in recent times.

Dr Lorcan Sirr, Lecturer in Housing and Urban Economics DIT
Majella Darcy, Dublin Simon Community
Tom Parlon, Director-General, Construction Industry Federation (CFI)
Damien English TD, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal
Moderator: Derry Gray, Partner & Head of Mgt
Consultancy, BDO, Pres., Dublin Chamber of Commerce

8.30 pm



Our political landscape changed in the wake of the general election. Now, our economic landscape has changed as well, following the momentous decision of a majority of the British electorate to leave the European Union. It is difficult in the present circumstances to judge what will be the medium and long-term effect on our economy and in what ways it will affect it but affect it it will. Whatever agreement is arrived at between the European Union and the United Kingdom, it is bound to have a bearing on this country’s present economic relations with the neighbouring island. The impressively speedy recovery of the economy and the forecasts for its continued growth have raised expectations, particularly in the public sector trade unions for “pay restoration” and industrial action on several fronts has been predicted. This obviously raises the spectre of pay settlements, benchmarking etc in the so-called Celtic Tiger era when our competitiveness was consequently in a bad place. We now need a vibrant economy if we are to fix the damage inflicted by the years of austerity on other sectors of the economy – infrastructure, public services and vitally important areas such as policing, housing, higher education and health. How can these competing demands on the public purse be reconciled, particularly in the post-June 23rd context? It is true that the case for arguing for continued pay restraint is not helped by the example set by some heads of industry with pay packages reaching the €5 million mark. And there is the special case of new entrants into key public sector jobs earning less than colleagues doing the same work. Nevertheless, another wage spiral will seriously damage the opportunity that we now have of building a society of which we can all be proud. If such a wage spiral is allowed to go on, it could perhaps lead us back to the kind of boom and bust years from which we are just emerging. But other issues do need to be addressed including the cost of living, which is one of the highest in Europe, and nothing has been done to control professional fees etc. And on top of this, the external threats to this small, open economy remain with particular concern about China and other markets, and ongoing stagnation in some EU member states. Not to mention, of course, the upcoming US presidential election and the possible after effects, which might be none too pleasant for us.

Dr Seamus Coffey, Lecturer Economics UCC, member of the Fiscal Advisory Council
Marie Sherlock, Economist, SIPTU
Kieran Mulvey, former Head of Workplace Relations Commission
Paschal Donohoe TD, Minster for Public Expenditure & Reform
Moderator: Sean Whelan, Economics Editor, RTÉ


Wednesday, July 20th




10.30 am **


This session is subject to change due to the on-going developments in the wake of Brexit.

Crisis is not a new phenomenon as far as the European Union is concerned. The task of building a Europe of such cultural, political and economic diversity was never going to be easy. The decision, however, of the UK, its second largest member and the fifth biggest economic power in the world, to leave the Union has left it with perhaps its most serious challenge to date. It will take leadership and vision of the highest quality as well as clearly defined objectives and tenacity to steer the ship over the next months and years and this, of course, also applies to our own country. Brexit is not the only challenge faced by the leaders and member states of the EU. The crisis in the Union, which was there before Brexit, is far from over. At its heart is the rejection by a considerable percentage of populations in other member states of the pursuit of European integration. In spite of the extraordinary achievements of the Union so far, there are growing doubts about the viability and feasibility of the European project including among passionate advocates of the European ideal. The dream has been tarnished further by the huge problems such as unprecedented migration, stagnant economies and high unemployment with, as a consequence, the growth of extreme right politics and the feeling that the project of European integration has gone too far with a large bureaucracy and bloated institutions, the members of which reward themselves far too generously. Not enough attention is being paid to the one great achievement, which is the creation of a market of 500 million people with free movement of goods and services and that at a time when the world is becoming more globalised and power is shifting to other parts of the planet. Nor is there much focus on the political and humanitarian roles played by the Union at a time of growing instability in the world and we have not yet had the result of the US Presidential election, and we have the spectre of international terrorism. It is somewhat ironic that, at a time when we probably need more Europe not less, the crisis in the Union has never been greater.

Mairead McGuinness MEP, Vice-President, European Parliament
Brendan Halligan, Chair, Institute of European & International Affairs
Colum Eastwood, Leader of the SDLP
Moderator: Pádraig Murphy, former ambassador to Germany, Spain, USSR and Japan

** Please note earlier time

2.30 pm

Reading: Foundry House by Brian Friel
Musical Interlude: Evan McGarrigle plays Loch Lomand and excerpts from Partita No.1 in B b by J.S. Bach

4.00 pm


Terrorism, both national and international, has been a fact of life for a very long time and history is peppered with terrible examples of the use of this kind of violence for political, religious or ideological aims. We have been witness to it here on our own small island and have to this day many shattered lives as witness. In recent times, for most people, the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11th, 2001 stands out as the most dramatic and most murderous even though the litany is long throughout the world, including Europe, of terrorist attacks claiming the lives of innocent people in places where they are simply going about their daily lives and are suddenly caught up in an event which kills or injures them or changes their lives forever. Terrorist atrocities are a fact of life in countries of the Middle East, Syria and Iraq in particular, but also in Europe and most recently on our own doorstep in Spain and France where, last November, 130 people were murdered and hundreds more injured in a Parisian theatre and nearby cafes as they relaxed on a Friday evening. This is today’s version of war and the fact that the perpetrators are from within the societies they want to destroy and are prepared to sacrifice themselves in the process makes of it a very difficult one to win, especially when they have a well funded state, Daesh or Islamic State, behind them. Can we defend ourselves against this new scourge and are the security forces in Europe well enough equipped and, more importantly, well enough co-ordinated, to combat this kind of threat?

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan
Rob Wainwright, Director-General, Europol
Dr Paul Gill, Senior Lecturer in Security & Crime, University College London
Moderator: Gerry Foley, Western Correspondent UTV, former Political Editor for ITV at Westminster

8.30 pm


Whatever about the scepticism surrounding the subject of climate change in some quarters, it is now seen throughout the world as the greatest threat to the planet and to humanity itself. Slowly but surely, the international community, it would appear, is mobilising to address this global problem, the effects of which have for several decades been already experienced in Africa and Asia with droughts and natural disasters resulting in famine and death. As a result of the recent climate change summit in Paris, carbon emission targets for all countries including Ireland have been put in place. It will be a major challenge for some industrial and agricultural economies to meet these targets. There is already equivocation as far as our own country is concerned. The importance of agriculture to our economy has been put forward as justification for extending the deadline for delivering on our targets. With unrestrained growth in agricultural output we are going to incur heavy fines and show a lack of solidarity with those countries who have acted decisively to reduce their carbon emissions. Tackling the problem of climate change is going to affect the lifestyles of everyone in the developed world in particular, and will demand in the near future radical policies in the elimination of fossil fuels.

Senator Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party
Prof John Sweeney, former lecturer, Geography Department, NUI Maynooth
Fr Sean McDonagh SSC, Columban, eco-theologian, contributor to Papal Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’
Joe Healy, President, Irish Farmers Association (IFA)
Moderator: Paul Hannigan, President Letterkenny Institute of Technology


Thursday, July 21st



11.00 am



A message that many commentators have taken from the results of the recent election is that the coalition government’s emphasis on its undoubted success in turning the economy around with the slogan: Let’s Keep The Recovery Going, failed because it reflected insensitivity to the plight of a large section of the population who had yet to experience the benefits of the recovery. Be that as it may, the fact that during the period of austerity we had five “regressive budgets”, reducing spending on vital public services on which many sections of the population depend, compounded perhaps by the levels of inequality and unfairness already present in Irish society. On the other hand, it is true that throughout the period of one of the worst economic crises ever experienced, welfare payments to the unemployed and to whole sections of society were protected, and that wealth distribution in Ireland ranks among the best in the world. We now have a very large national debt to prove it. So, what are the facts? Are “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer”? Are we creating a society of “haves” and increasingly alienated “have-nots”? This is not a question being asked solely in Ireland. Recently, the success of the work of the French Economist, Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century, questioning the capitalist system and advancing the thesis that the wealth of the world is increasingly in the hands of fewer and fewer, became a bestseller. What policies are needed to lift all boats and, at least, combat persistent poverty and dependency?

Richard Boyd Barrett TD, People Before Profit Alliance
Dr Donal De Buitleir,
Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Social Protection
Moderator: Ingrid Miley, Industrial Affairs Correspondent, RTÉ

2.30 pm

Reading: Mr Singh My Heart’s Delight and screening of the film adaptation (courtesy of RTÉ)
with Doreen Hepburn, Mark Zuber, Niall O Dubhthaigh and Eugene O’Hagan
Produced & Directed by Brian MacLochlainn

4.00 pm


Life expectancy for women and men in the developed world, including Ireland, has increased considerably and is forecast to keep on increasing. This is a very positive development for the human species but it brings with it a range of challenges that have to be faced, not in the future but now. They include health service provision and care in general, but also leisure activities and opportunities for ongoing development and, of course, raise important questions relating to retirement age and pension provision. From a health perspective alone, there is the growing problem of Alzheimer’s disease; the dread that it inspires in the minds of all people, particularly those in their advancing years, the havoc and pain it causes to families and the demands it makes on already overstretched health services. In general, keeping those advancing in years in their own homes as long as possible and providing services and facilities to them and integrating them into society rather than isolating them has to be a top priority. And then respecting their human rights as citizens, as we shall hear in this session, will become more and more a priority. A comprehensive, integrated medium to long-term vision and strategy is urgently needed to prepare for this historic shift in the makeup of our population.

Prof Ian Robertson, Prof of Psychology TCD, visiting prof at University of London
Prof Des O’Neill, Consultant Geriatrician, Tallaght Hospital and TCD, writer and commentator
Maeve O’Rourke, Human Rights lawyer in London, Pro-Bono lawyer of the year 2013 for her work for the victims of Magdalene Laundries
Prof Alan Barrett, Director, Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI), Adj. Prof Social Sciences & Philosophy TCD
Moderator: Anne Connolly, Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange (ISAX), former Director, Ageing Well Network

8.30 pm


No institution in Irish public life has had more diagnoses and prescriptions for remedial action than the health service. Hundreds of reports have been produced, there has been endless tweaking of governance and service delivery structures, budget over-runs are routine and headline-grabbing stories from A&E mean that acute care dominates government attention to the detriment of community-based services, mental health and prevention-orientated measures. And the two-tier nature of our health service is still with us. We spend as much or more on health than peer countries but without comparable outcomes. Efforts to rationalise services are bedevilled by political interference at local level. The CEO of the HSE has said that there is no shared vision for our health service with, as a consequence, reform initiatives are inevitably piecemeal and give rise to problems elsewhere in the system. A potentially positive outcome, perhaps of the fragmented Dáil, is that Minister Simon Harris has seized the opportunity to craft a 10-year vision for the health service that might command all-party support.

Phelim Quinn CEO, Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA)
Fergal Hickey, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Sligo University Hospital
Susan Mitchell, Health Editor, Sunday Business Post
Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health
Moderator: Dr Donal de Buitleir, Director, former member, Health Service Executive


Friday, July 22nd



11.00 am


The impact of the recession on rural communities was severe and many have not recovered from the closure of small businesses and emigration of the young. Added to that has been rationalisation with closure of post offices, garda barracks and banking services. And of course there has been, for a variety of reasons, fairly widespread closure of pubs. Now, with the economy recovering it is claimed that there is little or no sign of recovery in rural Ireland. Ireland, of course, is not the only country in Europe where rural decay is a complex problem to which it is difficult to provide solutions. How realistic is it, for example, to provide jobs in every town and village in rural Ireland? Can rural dwellers, no matter how remote, be provided with all the services they require? Can modern technology such as broadband change the face of rural Ireland and make living there more feasible? There have been numerous reports on rejuvenating rural communities and there has been the Leader Initiative set up by the EU Commission in 1991 that provides funding for developmental projects to all rural areas of this country. But the problem of rural Ireland can only be seen in the context of an overall plan for the whole country. We have a history of national spatial strategies being launched with great fanfare only to be ignored or abandoned. There is clearly a need for deep and innovative thinking and long-term planning. Uncoordinated, politically motivated local deals are not the answer.

John Moran, CEO and Founder, RHH International, member of Limerick Economic Forum, former Sec. Gen. Dept of Finance
Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, founder of Aer Arann
Tony Hanway, CEO Virgin Media
Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht
Moderator: Dr Don Thornhill, former Sec.Gen Department of Education & Science, former Head of HEA

2.30 pm 

Reading: The Diviner by Brian Friel
Musical Interlude: La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin: Debussy
Traumeri: Schumann, Liebestraume No 3: Liszt
James O’Malley: Piano

4.00 pm 


A sequence of investigations into An Garda Síochána, from Morris through Smithwick to most recently O’Higgins and their disturbing findings together with revelations by whistle-blowers, paint a picture of a police force in need of fundamental reform. The Garda Inspectorate reports have very authoritatively confirmed this fact. Most recently, the new Independent Policing Authority issued a trenchant critique of the management culture of An Garda Síochána and has made it clear that it wants to see results. Meanwhile, front-line gardaí have to do an increasingly difficult and dangerous job, particularly in urban areas, without adequate human and technical resources and, in the case of younger members of the force in particular, being underpaid for such a crucially important job. It is claimed, not surprisingly, that morale, already low, is further depressed by these reports. The government has promised to increase garda numbers, establish special units to tackle organised crime and to invest in equipment and technology. However, these initiatives will not resolve the deep-seated cultural malaise, cited in every report, that seems to span an endless catalogue of unacceptable practices, poor policing performance and incidents of corruption within the force, thereby undermining public confidence in and respect for An Garda Síochána

Robert Olson, Garda Inspectorate Chief Inspector
Jim O’Callaghan TD, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Justice
Conor Brady, Sunday Times columnist, former editor Irish Times, former member GSOQ
Josephine Feehily, Chairperson, Policing Authority
Moderator: Dr Eddie Molloy, Management Consultant


8.30 pm


While the poet W.B. Yeats expressed admiration for the leaders of the 1916 Rising, he was fearful about the ultimate outcome: would the destruction of the old order lead to a bright new dawn or regression to a worse state than before with anarchy, instability and possibly disaster? As the bitter, divisive Civil War that followed showed, he had good reason to be concerned, but eventually the State survived and over the century has become a modern, vibrant democracy with a creative and educated young population. However, while we can take great pride in our achievements as a nation, there have been many failures in governance, with disastrous economic boom and bust cycles and a legacy of avoidable social problems like homelessness, child poverty or inequity in access to health services, infrastructural deficits like our broken water system and communities struggling to cope with lack of opportunity, a drugs plague and criminality. In this context, the outcome of the recent General Election presents a new ‘moment of truth’ for Irish society that has echoes of 1916. Does the resultant fragmented political landscape augur well for the much-promised ‘new way of doing politics’ that will deliver sustainable economic progress and a fair society? Or are we facing into a long period of emasculated, hesitant, ineffective government and instability, and a politics more blighted by short-termism, opportunism, populism and amoral localism than even anything we have experienced to date? What now is needed to restore faith and trust in our political system and to make of this country, with its relatively small population, the best run little country in the world? What is needed to create a just and caring society with equal opportunities for all which appeared to be a priority of the men and women of 1916?

Cllr Gary Gannon, Cllr for North Inner City, Social Democrat candidate for Dublin Central in 2016 election
Norah Casey, Publisher and broadcaster, CEO Harmonia
Alice Maher, Contemporary artist
Brendan Howlin TD, Leader of the Labour Party
Moderator: Conor Brady, Sunday Times columnist, former editor Irish Times



We are extremely grateful to the following benefactors without whose help the presentation of this MacGill programme would simply not be possible.


as well as


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