MacGill Summer School

Programme for 2013

For several years now, and especially since the sudden and brutal fall of the Celtic Tiger, the MacGill School has focussed on reform of the institutions of the state – political, social and economic, and as the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising approaches, what better time is there to look at the republic which came about as a result of that event.

33rd Annual MacGill Summer School



Sunday, July 28th: 

3.00 pm       MacGill Literary Awards

4.00 pm      Opening of exhibition of new work by Johnny Boyle

5.00 pm       Recital given by Glenties Brass band under the direction of Ian Behan


6.00 pm      Official Opening of the 33rd Annual MacGill Summer School

                       by the Danish Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Mr Niels Pultz

                                                                followed by

                                  An Address by An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny TD

     [A break of approx 90 minutes will follow and School will resume at 8.50pm]

9.00pm       13th Annual John Hume Lecture to be delivered by Ms Emily O’Reilly,
                 Ombudsman & Information Commissioner, and European Ombudsman elect

followed by reception (courtesy of European Commission Representation)


Monday, July 29th:


Republicanism is a term that has been much used and abused in political thought and action in Ireland since independence but its definition and what flows from it has rarely, until recently perhaps, been the subject of much debate. The philosophers of the French Revolution of 1789 had considerable influence over that small band of Irish revolutionaries in the 18th and 19th centuries but what kind of republic did the men and women of 1916 and those who sat in the first Dáil envisage and what kind of democratic, political institutions did they want to put in place?  More importantly, what kind of republic do we have now and which we will celebrate in three years’ time?  How can we bring about necessary political, administrative and electoral change and how do we have accountability by those in positions of power?  Do we stand by the republic sufficiently and act and govern in the interest of all the citizens according to true republican principles and values?  Do we instill knowledge of and loyalty to the republic in our homes and classrooms? What does the word republic mean today and what should be the informing principles of a modern Irish republic?

11.00 am   The Irish Republic – more by accident than design?

Prof Dermot Keogh, Emeritus Prof of History and former Head of Dept of  History UCC.  Work includes ‘Twentieth Century Ireland: Nation & State’

Dr Elaine Sisson, Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture IADT, Author of ‘Pearse’s Patriots: St Endas and the Cult of Boyhood’

Moderator: Vincent O’Doherty, Vice-Chairman, British-Irish Association


12.30 pm     Launch of biography of poet and cultural activist, Ethna Carbery by  Helen Meehan


2.30 pm     The Ambiguous Republic

Prof Diarmaid Ferriter, Prof of Modern History, UCD. Work includes ‘The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000’

Dr  Margaret O’Callaghan, Senior Lecturer in Politics QUB. Work includes ‘Propaganda Wars and Democratisation in Ireland’

Theo Dorgan, poet, novelist and broadcaster, member of Aosdana, recent work includes: ‘Greek’ and ‘Sailing for Home’ and his first novel, ‘Making Way’, published in March

Moderator: Prof Dermot Keogh, Emeritus Prof of History and former Head of Dept of History UCC.  Work includes ‘Twentieth Century Ireland: Nation & State’.


4.00 pm      Ruairí McKiernan, community activist and social entrepreneur presents his video “Hitching for Hope” from the highways and byways of Ireland on what a new dream for Ireland might be.


5.00 pm       Patrick MacGill—the Navvy Poet
                                Joe Mulholland

(to mark the fiftieth anniversary of MacGill’s death in Florida)

followed by a Glass of Welcome for participants in the 2013 MacGill School


8.30 pm       Building a Decentralised, Participatory and Accountable Republic

Dr Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, former Prof of History UCG. Work includes ‘Ireland before the Famine 1798-1848’ and ‘The Age of DeValera’ (with Joe Lee).

Fintan O’Toole, Assistant Editor, The Irish Times, columnist and drama critic, recently Visiting Lecturer at PrincetonUniversity. Work includes ‘Enough is Enough’: How to Build a NewRepublic’

Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party, former Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources

Moderator:  Mary Minihan, Irish Times


Tuesday, July 30th:


Have republican ideals influenced our governance sufficiently and do we have genuine participation in our political institutions by the people? How can we get a system of governance that excludes cronyism and clientelism and works for the common good and encourages civic engagement?  Whatever about the Seanad, how does our parliament work and how can it be reformed and held responsible for governance of the whole republic?  With regard to local government, the Council of Europe has confirmed that the system of local government is weak in Ireland and its funding lacks transparency.  How to get local democracy to work in a fair, efficient and participative way-in a way that shows that local representatives can be trusted and are competent?  Nationally, how to arrive at a healthy balance between the executive and legislative and expand the role of our public representatives and make it meaningful?  How can our democracy be deepened and its institutions made accessible to all citizens as befits a modern republic?


11.00 am     A view of our political system and democracy from the backbenches

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, Labour deputy for Dublin North-Central, Vice-Chair, Oireachtas Education & Social Protection Committee

Catherine Murphy TD, Independent deputy for Kildare North

Eoghan Murphy TD, Fine Gael deputy for Dublin South-East

Response:   Dr Brendan Halligan, Chairperson, Institute of International & European Affairs, former Labour party deputy and senator


2.30 pm       Citizens’ views of our representative democracy and our politics

Maurice Fitzpatrick, Lecturer at the University of Cologne, film documentary maker

Ruairí McKiernan, Community activist and social entrepreneur, Founder of youth organisation. Member of the Council of State

Niamh Gallagher, co-founder of Women for Election organisation

John Logue, studied law at UCD, currently President of Union of Students in Ireland (USI)

Response: Dr Theresa Reidy, lecturer in Irish politics and political economy at Dept of Government UCC

Moderator: Sean O’Rourke, RTE


4.30 pm      Governance in Denmark

Dr Bo Lidegaard, Executive Editor-in-Chief of the leading Danish Newspaper, Politiken.  A former diplomat, he has been advisor to several Danish prime ministers and was involved in international negotiations on climate change.  Alongside his career, he has also pursued academic research on contemporary history and since 1996 he has published several works on international relations and on the fabric of the Danish welfare society. He recently published ‘A Short History of Denmark in the 20th century’, a comprehensive analysis of “The Danish Model”.  Dr Lidegaard is today one of the most widely read Danish historians.

Moderator: Dr Brendan Halligan, Chairperson, Institute for International & European Affairs, former Gen Secretary of Labour Party, former Dail deputy and senator


8.30 pm       The Inadequacy of the political and administrative institutions of the Republic is at the heart of our crises?

Michael McDowell, Barrister and columnist. Former leader of the Progressive Democrats, former Attorney-General, former Tánaiste

Justine McCarthy, writer and journalist, columnist with The Sunday Times. Work includes ‘Mary McAleese: the Outsider’

Micheál Martin TD, Leader of Fianna Fáil. Cabinet portfolios held include, Foreign Affairs, Enterprise, Trade & Employment, Education, and Health and Children

Dr Eddie Molloy, Director, Advance organisation, management consultant

Moderator:  Sean O’Rourke, RTE


Wednesday, July 31st:


Even though egalité and fraternité might not be hallmarks of our republic, there has been a strong tendency and considerable efforts made by the state to look after vulnerable sections of society even to levels which, in the present economic crisis, are now difficult to sustain.  With yet another serious crisis brought about by a mix of mismanagement, greed and incompetence as well as external factors, the state is struggling to maintain its commitments to those without jobs, the elderly and citizens suffering from mental or physical disability.  The role of the voluntary sector has increased in importance and the Irish public are generous in their support but there is also duplication of services in every sphere and presumably waste. Regarding health overall, the ultimate test for a republic has to be the provision of a health service that offers the same level of accessibility to all citizens, irrespective of their means and status, and without taking on vested interests and raising more revenue from taxation it will be a difficult nut to crack.


11.00 am     Protecting our weakest and most vulnerable citizens

Geoff Meagher, National President, St Vincent de Paul

Prof Kathleen Lynch, Prof of Equality Studies UCD

Ivan Cooper, Director of Advocacy, The Wheel

Judge Michael Reilly, Inspector of Prisons

Norah Gibbons, Chairwoman of the new Child and Family Agency

Moderator: Dr Donal de Buitléir, Director


2.30 pm       Mental Health in Ireland – a story of neglect…….and now hope

Dr Claire Hayes, Clinical Director, AWARE

Mary McEvoy, Actress, author of How The Light Gets In (2011)

Dr John Connolly, co-founder of Irish Association of Suicidology

Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State at Dept of Health

Moderator: Dr Eddie Molloy, Chairperson, Mental Health Reform


4.30 pm       Our Health Service – Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Dr James Reilly TD, Minister for Health

Moderator:  Michael McLoone, former Manager Donegal Co Council, former CEO, Beaumont Hospital, Chair of Donegal Airport, Sector Chair, Public Service Implementation Body


6.00pm        MacGill launch of The Fall of the Celtic Tiger, co-authored by Dr Donal Donovan and Prof Antoin E. Murphy


8.30 pm       Envisioning a Republic of Justice, Equality and Fairness

Josephine Feehily, Chairman, Revenue Commissioners

Colm O’Gorman, Director, Amnesty International

Noeline Blackwell, Director-General, Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC)

Gerry Adams TD, President Sinn Fein, deputy for Louth

Moderator: Anne Connolly, Director, Ageing Well Network


Thursday, August 1st:                                         


Little is possible in society without a healthy, thriving economy which provides work for the citizens, decent services for all and future prospects for the young.  Progress is being made to restore our economy to health and for the first time in five years a flicker of light is to be seen at the end of a long tunnel.  What growth there is, though, is mainly due to the buoyancy of exports from the FDI sector but this is now faltering due to low demand in our trading partners.  At the same time, the domestic economy is lagging far behind and the serious crisis in the eurozone with, apart from in Germany, little or no growth is a serious hindrance to our recovery and to any job creation.  And there is the huge problem of the deficit in our public finances which, together with our borrowing requirements, is also a great challenge that has to be confronted on a continuous basis.  Even though the road ahead is difficult and uncertain, we must continue to develop the indigenous industrial sector and particularly those resources we have such as agriculture and alternative energy resources and, of course, we must do more with less and continue to build and adapt our system of education at all levels.  And we cannot afford to put all our eggs into the basket of the smart economy. We need a manufacturing base.


11.00am    The Banking System—what do we need to know and where should it go from here?

Dr Donal Donovan, former Deputy Director IMF, co-author (with Antoin E. Murphy) of The Fall of  the Celtic Tiger.

Brendan Keenan, former Group Financial Editor, Irish Independent, columnist and broadcaster

Richard Curran, economist Sunday Business Post

Moderator:   tba


2.30 pm     Developing our own Resources and Research/Innovation are Key

Eamon Fingleton, Financial journalist and writer, a former editor for Forbes magazine and Financial Times. Work includes ‘In Praise of Hard Industries’

Philip O’Doherty, Founding CEO of E&I Engineering

David Horgan, CEO, Petrel Resources

George Lee, RTE Prime Time economist and presenter of radio business programme

Moderator:  Ingrid Miley, Industry Correspondent, RTE


4.30 pm       Building one of the best education systems in the world, and accessible to all, is crucial

Prof Brian MacCraith, President, DCU,

Prof Brigid Laffan, new Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence

Ruairí Quinn TD, Minister for Education & Skills

Moderator:  Dr Don Thornhill, Chair, National Competitiveness Council and HiberniaCollege


8.30 pm       Managing the Economy and Public Finances after the Troika

Tony Foley, senior lecturer and head of economics group, DCU

Michael McGrath TD, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Finance

Peter Breuer, Resident Representative to Ireland of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State at Dept of Finance

Moderator:   Sean Whelan, Economics Editor, RTE


Friday, August 2nd:


We have lived through four years of austerity but we still have a considerable distance to go.  For many, much of their wealth has disappeared but it is the unemployed and young couples struggling with negative equity and mortgage repayments and our youth who have had to emigrate who are the real victims of the fall of the Celtic Tiger.  Small businesses still can’t get money from the banks which bear so much responsibility for the crisis and which are contributing little, if anything, to our society. Our rural communities are being hit hard by emigration, closure of retail outlets and, in many cases, loss of their post offices and Garda barracks.  And to add to the difficulties of life in urban and rural Ireland, we have violence and aggression on our streets, fuelled by alcohol and drugs and, tragically, high rates of suicide which destroys families and communities.

On the economic front, the government has done well to get the interest on the massive borrowings we had to make to save the banking system diminished and stabilise the economy in general.  But in spite of taxation increases and reduction in capital spending we are still crippled by debt – personal and national – and we have the highest current budget deficit in the EU at about 13% of GDP.  This situation is replicated throughout the eurozone with many members faced with the dilemma of how to finance growth stimuli while at the same time avoid adding to the debt burden especially when it was public deficit financing which, at least in part, led to the crisis in the first place.  Should we spend and borrow in the hope that increased economic activity and resulting increased employment will end the crisis and worry about the debt later – or let our children worry about it?  Or perhaps there are other alternatives as yet unexplored.

This is a day for looking forward, for seeing how we can draw on our own resources, how we can use the wealth that is still there, including, but not only, financial wealth, to build a better republic—a republic which, by reforming its political and administrative structures, will not lead its citizens into such a crisis again.


11.00 am     What are the Alternatives to Austerity?

John Moran, Secretary-General, Dept of Finance

Jack O’Connor, General President SIPTU

Fiona Muldoon, Central Bank Director of Credit Institutions and Insurance Supervision

Dr Alan Ahearne, Lecturer in Economics UCG, fellow of Brueghel Institute, Brussels

Moderator:  David Murphy, Business Editor, RTE


3.00 pm       A Walk in the beautiful Glen of Glenties, visiting places associated with Patrick MacGill followed by refreshments


 8.00 pm     What is happening to us? Where are we going?

Keynote Address: Dr Maureen Gaffney, writer and broadcaster. Recent work includes: ‘Flourishing’

Gerard O’Neill, Chairman, Amarach Research

Tony Griffin, founder of SOAR, Author of Screaming at the Sky (2010)

Brother Martin OSB, Headmaster, Glenstal Abbey School

Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald Loftus, GP and Coroner North Mayo

Vincent P. Martin, Barrister and co-founder, New Beginnings

Moderator:  Judge Yvonne Murphy



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Glenties, Co. Donegal, Ireland

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