Repeal the 8th: What A Long, Hard Trip It's Been for Women In Ireland

When Hot Press was launched in 1977, Ireland was a poor home to anyone who deviated from the Roman Catholic hegemony which controlled every aspect of Irish life. It would get worse before it would get better. But with the result of the Referendum to Repeal the 8th, we have finally come of age as a Republic.

I don’t give a damn what anyone says. This isn’t about triumphalism. It isn’t about wanting to rub the other side’s noses in it. It isn’t about shutting down the opposition. It isn’t about nastiness or cruelty, or anything like it. 

There are fundamental issues involved. There have always been – and it would be stupid and wrong to pretend otherwise. 

But first and foremost, the response of the Yes side to the result of the referendum is about something much more immediate, positive and beautiful than any of that. It is about a feeling, at last, of belonging. That justice has been served. That, after all these years, women will finally be treated with respect and dignity in this country. And it is about the happiness and the satisfaction that flows from that – and in particular from the fact that this is something that Irish people have voted for. Overwhelmingly.

There is no point in hiding it. When the results of the referendum to Repeal the 8th Amendment came through, the feeling of sheer, irrepressible joy, and of release was, I don’t know... indescribable. It was a feeling after all. A sweet, powerful, emotional feeling. But language cannot fully express something like this, that sets the heart pounding, the pulse racing.

The euphoria hit first when the results of the exit polls carried out by The Irish Times and RTÉ came hurtling down the mojo wire on the night of the vote. The numbers were enough to take your breath away. There was a need to step back. Could this really be happening? Are you sure? 

I was in a restaurant at the time, with my life partner, closest friend and fellow campaigner through thick and thin, Máirín Sheehy. We checked the numbers again. No, we had not misread them. We started to receive calls and texts from family members and friends, anxious to share the news. In the restaurant, the staff, all wearing Yes badges, were also grinning from ear-to-ear through the after-dinner clean-up. There, and on the way through the streets of Dublin, I hugged and high-fived friends and strangers alike. At one point, it became impossible to quell the quiet tears of joy that ran down my face. 66 to 33. Incredible.

It was the end of a long, often dark, sometimes extremely hard, and frequently bruising, journey. But we had finally broken through to the other side. We had thrown off the old shackles. We had taken Ireland with us, out of the grim shadows, and into the light of a new dawn, a new day – and hopefully a new era.

It really was, in so many ways, a magical and historic moment. 

PATHETICALLY HOSTILE

It is hard for people who weren’t there to realise just how horribly repressive Ireland was, to grow up in, in the 1960s and 1970s. 

The sneaky, claustrophobic, deadening hand of censorship smeared itself over every form of artistic expression here, cutting off or shutting down much that was great or potentially great. The most grotesquely puritanical, religiously-motivated complaints from a few twisted members of the public were taken seriously, and acted on by the petty zealots of the Censorship of Publications Board. 

Sex was the big taboo. Anything which implied that people might have a sex life outside the confines of marriage was suspect. Homosexuals didn’t exist. Books which strayed from the straight and narrow in their depiction of sex and sexuality were banned. Publishers were sucked into the web of repression. They took on the prejudices of the God squad, who snooped constantly, trying to identify and summarily crush bohemians and others of low morals.  

At the insistence of the Roman Catholic Church, contraception was illegal in Ireland. By all means, the privileged male elite of the Vatican allowed, with fantastic generosity, women could try to avoid becoming pregnant by aiming to have sex only within the so called ‘safe period’. But, in truth, of course, this was just a way of enforcing the idea that every sexual act should carry within it the possibility of procreation. And that less sex was better for everyone.

If you wanted to fuck, there had to be a risk of pregnancy. it was as simple as that. And, male or female, you could put up or shut up.

But what about blow-jobs? Or cunnilingus? They didn’t exist. Neither did masturbation, except as something that had to be confessed as a sin. So much of this brainwashing was carried out covertly. The church controlled the schools. They had been given a licence by a craven State to get inside children’s heads from the get-go. And they tried to: Christ did they try. 

I remember clearly one of the only fragments of what someone might have thought passed for education about sex and relationships in Synge Street CBS, where I went to school. “My advice about girls,” the brother in charge – a brutal, cold, viciously sour character who regularly punished people en masse – said to us, on the last day before the summer holidays, at the end of third year in secondary school, “is to stay away from them.”

The evil temptresses. They’ll have your trousers down around your ankles before you know it. They’ll use their witchy ways to force you to sin. The Jezebels. The whores.

I wouldn’t have known what the word meant at the time, but this was the patriarchy at its most pathetically hostile and prejudiced at work. These… (I need to take a deep breath and hold back here)…  these ignorant, celibate men… knew nothing about women. They knew nothing about romance. They knew even less about sex. Their job was to create an aura of sin and guilt around the whole idea of girls and boys – or horror of horrors, members of the same sex – enjoying one another’s growing sense of individuality. It was all about what you couldn’t do. What you shouldn’t do. 

This is what we were force-fed: the whole damnable wreck which is the Roman Catholic Church’s attitude to sexuality. To me, it always smelt foul. And it was.

SORDIDLY SECTARIAN

That was in or around the time that I realised clearly, for the first time, that there is no God. I also felt, in my gut, that all of the secretive, noxious, shame-filled propaganda we were being fed was having a profoundly negative, damaging effect on everyone down whose throats it was rammed. It made me, for one, sick. I wanted out. And so I began to forge my own way.

I remember the McGee case, in 1974, in which a 27-year-old mother of four had to go to the High Court to establish her right to use contraception. She was suffering from cerebral thrombosis. Her life had been endangered during her second and third pregnancies. She’d had a stroke and been temporarily paralysed. She was told by her doctor that if she became pregnant again, her life would be at risk.

Her situation in many ways prefigured what happened much, much later to Savita Halappanavar. Neither Church nor State gave a shit about the possibility that Mary McGee, mother of four, might die. The courts came to the rescue, as they would – both in Ireland and, as with homosexuality, in Europe – on so many occasions subsequently, deciding that married couples had a constitutional right to make private decisions on family planning. The law had to change. 

I suspect that it was this decision which inspired a cadre of Roman Catholic zealots to demand that an anti-abortion amendment – the 8th Amendment – be inserted into the Constitution. They wanted to head off at the pass the possibility that the Supreme Court might decide that a woman – for example, one who might die if a pregnancy were allowed to continue – would be entitled to an abortion in Ireland.

Every inch of the way, attempts to liberalise the laws on contraception and on homosexuality were opposed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy and their bullying lay foot soldiers. The line of continuity between all of this and the referendum on the 8th Amendment is clear. Forget the devious, placatory nonsense which is trotted out nowadays. The Roman Catholic Church wanted to control – or to continue to control – women’s fertility and their bodies. 

The bishops, and their lay cronies, were determined to impose on all of us a set of conditions which would ensure that women would be forced to stay at home doing ‘women’s work’. And until 1973, the State had played along, insisting that women had to leave the public service when they got married. All of this was a way of subjugating women, an ideology which sadly has been at the heart of most religious thinking for the past two thousand years and more. And still is… 

I remember too when Gay Sweatshop came to Dublin in 1976. The decision of the Project Arts Centre to invite them was widely denounced. A Fine Gael Councillor, Ned Brennan, hit the front page of the Evening Herald. “We don’t want any funny bunnies in Dublin,” he said.

Doubtless, phone calls had been made by the Archbishop. Either way, Brennan was giving voice to exactly what the hierarchy were thinking: they reviled the idea of homosexuals and what they got up to between the sheets. The idea that this talented, colourful, politically motivated theatrical troupe might flagrantly proselytise for ‘queers’ here was unconscionable. It couldn’t be allowed in Catholic Ireland.

You thought the recent decision to force the Project Arts Centre to remove the Maser mural was bad? In the wake of the Gay Sweatshop controversy, the Project lost their grants from the Arts Council and from Dublin Corporation (as Dublin City Council was known then). Ultimately, through sheer determination and a refusal to lie down and die, they found within their number the resources to carry on. But the State had spoken. Gays could go and screw themselves. ‘We’ didn’t want them in Ireland. 

That was the climate on the run-in to the launch of Hot Press in 1977. Make no mistake: as a direct result of the over-weening influence of the Roman Catholic Church, Ireland was a sick, twisted, repressive and sordidly sectarian place. And I’m not even talking about the North. 

SOLD LIKE LIVESTOCK

The first ever cover of Hot Press is a fascinating study. At the centre is our cover star, Rory Gallagher. Around him, is a mad collage of rock ’n’ rollers and reprobates. And at the bottom is a picture of the cabinet of the day, with Fine Gael Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave in the centre. 

_image2_

Now, look carefully behind the man who in 1974 famously crossed the floor of the Dáil to vote down a bill to allow the sale of contraception, which was being introduced by his own Minister for Justice, Patrick Cooney. Immediately over the right shoulder of Liam Cosgrave, we placed a picture of two men kissing. It was a statement of intent. 

Elsewhere on the cover was the then-little known future President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, highlighted by Hot Press for her work in the cause of women’s rights – and in particular for her handling of the McGee case. 

In those days, we were howling into the teeth of a gale. But at least it was a start. Ireland was a hopelessly narrow, bigoted, theocratic country, run for the benefit of Roman Catholics, in which women were routinely squashed under the heel of the patriarchy. They were abused and betrayed. They were marginalised and discriminated against. They were treated like dirt. And the insertion of the odious 8th Amendment into the Constitution of Ireland in 1983 put the dictatorial tin hat on all of that.

Ever since that first, scene-setting issue, Hot Press has campaigned for sexual freedom. We wanted Ireland to change. We argued for a more liberal, open, inclusive and caring society. But we also tried to act in that spirit. We gave an unprecedented freedom to writers in terms of the language they could use. We introduced the first ever mainstream gay column to an Irish publication with Bootboy. We ran a Sex Aid column that won for Hot Press a special award for pioneering work in relation to sexuality from the Irish Family Planning Association.

As we chipped away from the outside, the very foundations of the edifice of Irish Catholicism began to crumble. I won’t repeat every detail of the mounting series of scandals and outrages that cumulatively undid the Roman Catholic Church here: it would take forever. But the stranglehold in which they had held the nation was gradually weakened, enabling Irish people to think for themselves at last. 

It is enough, I think, to say that during the week after the referendum result, another scandal erupted, involving the illegal false registration, by the nuns, in a home run by the Sisters of Charity, of the birth details of children who had been adopted. And yes, that is the very same order that had wanted to control the new National Maternity Hospital. 

Some of the children were, of course, sold like livestock to doubtless well-meaning American Catholics. Over the ensuing decades, a rosary beads-long contagion of lies was foisted on both the birth mothers and the children, to frustrate the efforts they made to make contact with one another. The actions of the nuns, and of the institution that they ran, were shockingly two-faced, dishonest, loveless and reckless of the common good. 

It was all about the institution. It was about control. And in particular, it was about controlling women and their fertility. That was at the heart of Roman Catholicism. That was why the 8th Amendment had been inserted. And it stemmed, ultimately, from a blind fear, and a mostly unspoken and unacknowledged hatred, of women.

MORIBUND OLD IRELAND

This is what we had been fighting against. And this is what was at stake in the referendum. Could this toxic mixture of prejudice, fear, hostility and condescension – “we know best” – be defeated? Could the Yes campaigners persuade the Irish people that they should, in fact, trust women to make decisions about crisis pregnancies?

It seemed clear from the vote in the Same Sex Marriage referendum, that Ireland had undergone an extraordinary transformation since 1977. Would that translate into a Yes vote in the referendum? This was the ultimate test.  

During a campaign in which every trick in the book was tried by the anti-choice mob, it was impossible to know for sure. They lied. They bullied. They bent the facts. They distorted the figures. They shouted the opposition down. They removed Yes posters. They engaged in a typically cynical campaign of disinformation.

They even roped in the Pope, to say that he was coming to Ireland later this year. And ‘indulgences’ were put on the table.

At times, listening to No campaigners hogging airtime, talking over Yes advocates and broadcasters alike and generally appealing to the very worst in people, a current of fear was impossible to eradicate. What if voters believe this – or even some of this – propaganda? Towards the end of the campaign the threat of “foreign” abortion clinics coming into Ireland was thrown into the mix, in a desperate bid to stir up anti-immigrant sentiment in favour of No. It was a new low. 

Might these throwback foot-soldiers of a moribund old Ireland succeed in worming their way into people’s hearts and play effectively on their deepest anxieties and fears? You couldn’t entirely dismiss the possibility.

VOTE FOR FREEDOM

In the end, Irish people saw through the cynicism and the scare-mongering. Approximately 70 percent of women are estimated to have voted to Repeal. It is, by any standards, an extraordinary statistic, reflecting a complete change in the complexion of Irish society. Almost 63 percent of men also voted Yes, confirming the scale of the seismic shift that has taken place.

But the most important figures are probably these: 85 per cent of 18-to-24 year olds are estimated to have voted Yes. And the percentage of Repeal-voting 25-to-34 year olds is almost as high at 83 percent. 

On the basis of these figures, the old Ireland against which Hot Press has railed is surely dead and gone: it is with Archbishop McQuaid and the Magdalene laundries in the grave. But this is not the end of the story. Not by a long shot. There is more to do. Much more.

For a start, women in the North are entitled to the same freedoms as those in the South. We must wrest control of the schools from the religious orders, whose dead hand is still at the tiller in this crucial arena. We need to create a healthcare system of which we can all be proud. It is imperative to find a way of addressing deprivation and inequality; to redress the democratic deficit; to act on climate change – and so on. 

But a fortnight on from the vote, we are still entitled to feel good about the country we all have participated in creating. 

We have finally left behind the kind of brutal, repressive, paranoid attitudes of the past, which dominated this part of the world in relation to sex and sexuality. We have embraced openness and equality. We have chosen respect. We have chosen love.

There is now an attempt to portray the Yes side as the new Hitlers (only worse than the old). This is a deliberate, calculated misrepresentation. Under the ancien regime, people were not allowed to act according to their own conscience in relation to reproductive choices – even where they were victims of rape and incest.

The difference now is that people will be allowed, within democratically agreed limits, to make their own decisions. No one who doesn’t agree with abortion will be forced to have one. No ‘No’ campaigner will ever have to fly to England to not have an abortion. ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ were never the flip sides of the same coin.

Personally, there is one other point I want to make: my mother was a committed Catholic. She was perfectly entitled to be. I respected that right without reservation and loved her deeply. 

I feel the same about anyone and everyone’s religious beliefs, including Scientologists and Moonies: they are entitled to them. I have good and close friends of almost every religion and none. Ultimately, it is each to their own, until those views impinge of the freedom or the health of others. And so there is no justification whatsoever for giving any one religion control of the laws or the institutions, or the schools, of a democratic republic.

In Hot Press, we said that a Yes vote would be a vote for freedom. A vote for care. A vote for compassion. A vote for women. The equality agenda has always been a central part of our mission. We desperately wanted to help to build a better country. Well, this is what Irish people have chosen.

And so, in time for this birthday issue of Hot Press, it seems all the more fitting to be able to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted Yes. Thank you in particular to all of the people who fought so hard over the years to bring about this change. Thank you to Ailbhe Smyth, Orla O'Connor and Gráinne Griffin of Together for Yes – and to all of the canvassers and activists who put in the leg work that's so vital to winning votes. Thank you to the great citizens of Ireland.

Now it is the role of Government to legislate on that basis.

With the resounding Referendum result, women living in Ireland have been empowered in a way that would have been almost unimaginable when Hot Press launched 41 – or even more so at the time of the original referendum, 35 – years ago. Finally, we are a Republic at last.

Not a perfect one by a long shot. But we can work on that…

 

Related Articles

The Message: The Heat Is On and The No Campaign Have Been Unscrupulous

As the Repeal referendum comes into view, the No campaign's unscrupulous tactics have become apparent; Facebook still haven't addressed the abuse of their platform; Maser's Project mural has been removed; and the Catholic Church have reverted to their utterly predictable conservatism. You could say it's been an eventful fortnight.

Read More

Facebook: We Are Still Waiting For Answers

In Hot Press, a fortnight ago, we asked a series of questions of Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Since then, things have unravelled even further for the Social Media Monopoly. So here’s another one: how can the anti-competitive status, free of any form of regulation, which has been claimed by Facebook, possibly be justified when advertising lies flourish there?

Read More

What Is Facebook's Policy On Advertising In Relation To The 8th Amendment?

Hot Press Editor Niall Stokes gives the background to the Cambridge Analytica scandal – and writes an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg asking what Facebook intends to do about advertising and micro-targeting in the upcoming referendum in Ireland.

Read More

Niall Stokes Pays Tribute To Thom Moore

The Irish-American singer Thom Moore, formerly of Pumpkinhead and Midnight Well – has died. Here, Hot Press editor Niall Stokes pays tribute...

Read More

Rory Gallagher at 70 - Niall Stokes' speech at a special commemoration service held in London

It was Wednesday June 14th, 1995, when the terrible news of Rory Gallagher’s death was first phoned through to the Hot Press office. In more ways than one, it was the end of an era. On Wednesday November 8th that year, a commemoration service was held at Brompton Oratory in London. The ceremony ended with a tribute, which was delivered by Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press. As a special remembrance of Rory, on what would have been his 70th birthday, we reproduce here the full text of that tribute.

Read More

The Abortion Debate: An Open Letter To Simon Coveney

The Tánaiste Simon Coveney has intervened in the abortion debate, taking a conservative position which opposes the recommendations of the Citizens Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee. Niall Stokes explains why he should reconsider.

Read More

In the current Hot Press: An open letter to Simon Coveney on Repealing the 8th

In the latest issue of Hot Press, editor Niall Stokes asks Simon Coveney to reconsider his position on abortion.

Read More

Dolores O’Riordan: Remembering An Irish Icon

A message from Hot Press editor, Niall Stokes, from our special Dolores O'Riordan tribute issue.

Read More

Ireland Stuffed By Denmark. O'Neill In The Firing Line

Ireland were humiliated by Denmark, in the worst defeat suffered by an Irish team at home in years. The question now is: can Martin O'Neill stay on as manager?

Read More

Ireland Draw With Denmark: Player Ratings

Darren Randolph was Man of the Match. But how did our other players fare last night? And what team will Martin O'Neill pick for the crunch World Cup tie on Tuesday?

Read More

Message From The Editor - It's Time To Harvest The Wind

Storms have been afoot, with devastating consequences in parts of Ireland. Step back, however, and they illustrate the extraordinary power of the wind. So why is Ireland not a world leader in wind-generated power?

Read More

The Message - Women Must Decide Their Fate

Women in Ireland should be allowed to control their own fertility.

Read More

#MentalHealthWeek: An Open Letter to Adrienne Murphy, On The Struggles of Coping with Autism in the Family

The emphasis in Mental Health Week is on the well being of everyone who has to grapple with any of a variety of Mental Health issues. Indeed, at some point, that probably includes almost everyone in Irish society.

Read More

Ireland Progress To World Cup Qualifier After Victory Over Wales

It was a tough and gruelling encounter - but Ireland deserved to win the crunch World Cup tie against Wales, and to progress to the play-off stage.

Read More

The Message - An Open Letter from Niall Stokes to Adrienne Murphy

Over the past fortnight, a Facebook post by long-time Hot Press contributor Adrienne Murphy highlighted in the most heart-rending way the difficulties of living with a young man with severe autism...

Read More

Rob Kearney Supports Repealing The 8th Amendment

The Ireland and Leinster rugby star tells Hot Press that it is time for change.

Read More

The Message - George Hook and the Culture of Rape

Read More

George Hook and the Roots of Neanderthal Views About Sex

As the controversy about the Newstalk presenter refuses to die, the question needs to be asked: where does this poisonous stuff come from?

Read More

The Message - The problem with introducing an ID Card by stealth

When you are told that you need a Public Services Card to avail of social welfare or to renew a driving licence, it is mere semantics to claim that the cards are not compulsory…

Read More

When you are told that you need a Public Services Card to avail of social welfare or to renew a driving licence, it is mere semantics to claim that the cards are not compulsory…

Read More

Ireland vs Serbia: Is this the game that will get Martin O'Neill sacked?

Ireland’s World Cup hopes hinge on tonight’s do-or-die encounter with Serbia in Dublin. But as Niall Stokes writes, the paucity of tactical ideas on Saturday against Georgia – a recurring theme of O’Neill’s tenure – suggests the omens aren’t good. And if the result doesn’t go our way, it might just signal the end of his time in charge…

Read More

The Message - Why is North Korea being excluded from the nuclear club?

Read More

'You Raise Me Up' Makes Chinese TV Blockbuster Charlie Soong

Already one of the songs of the new century, Brendan Graham’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ has been selected as the end title track in a 30-episode epic on the man who is credited – along with his daughters – as a founding figure, in the People’s Republic of China

Read More

The Message - 1987: It Was A Very Good Year

The time for hiding from the lights was over. In so many respects modern Ireland was born in 1987. And central to that was the huge artistic and commercial success of The Joshua Tree...

Read More

The U2 Covers - No. 34: 'U2: The Stories Behind Their Greatest Songs'

Niall Stokes draws on his best-selling book Into The Heart: The Stories Behind The Songs Of U2 to offer a unique insight into the way in which some of the greatest songs in the history of popular music came into being.

Read More

The U2 Covers - No. 30: 'Bono: The Year That Shook My World'

From Hot Press' 2002 Annual, Bono spoke to Niall Stokes about all matters personal and political.

Read More

The U2 Covers - No. 23: 'U2 Goes Pop'

20 years ago, U2 came out with one of their most highly-anticipated albums, Pop. Niall Stokes met the band following its release for an in-depth interview.

Read More

The Message - Will Ireland become a Brexit bargaining chip?

With the damaging impact of Brexit on the UK becoming clearer by the week, the threat of a hard border in Northern Ireland is likely to be used as a bargaining chip in Britain’s increasingly threadbare negotiating strategy.

Read More

IMRO Confirms Appointment of Eleanor McEvoy as Chairperson

The Irish Music Rights Organisation has confirmed the appointment of the multi-award winning Irish songwriter, singer and composer Eleanor McEvoy as its new Chairperson, in succession to Keith Donald

Read More

Transfer of Ownership of the National Maternity Hospital from Sisters of Charity to St. Vincents Changes Nothing

There was what might have seemed like a dramatic development in the controversy surrounding the proposed new ownership of the National Maternity Hospital. But if all that is involved is shifting ownership from one religious interest group to another, then the issue remains as fraught as ever. By Niall Stokes

Read More

Music Cork 2017: Hot Press meets Island Records president Darcus Beese

Read More

The Message - Tech Monopolies and Surveillance Capitalism Undermine Our Democracy

Once upon a time, there was a vision of a digital utopia. Instead, we now have global tech monopolies, surveillance capitalism and extraordinary levels of political manipulation. Welcome to the modern world...

Read More

Leo Varadkar v Simon Coveney: Past Interviews and Profiles as the Fine Gael Leadership Contest Begins

With the decision of Enda Kenny to step down – finally! – as leader of the party with the highest number of TDs in Leinster House, a new Taoiseach is on the way. Here’s an opportunity to check back over our Hot Press interviews with the leading candidates, to see what can be gleaned...

Read More

The Message - Abortion: The People Want The Government to Legislate

The recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly may not be as far ahead of the public as politicians are claiming. But we also need legislation to prevent the covert use, and abuse, of personal data in the context of a referendum.

Read More

The Message: The National Maternity Hospital Must Not Be Given To The Sisters Of Charity

The controversy about the ownership of the National Maternity Hospital has invited a new focus on the charitable status of Church institutions – and the extraordinary and unwarranted financial privileges which they have enjoyed since the foundation of the State.

Read More

The Message - Things Are Going To Get Dirty

And no, this is not another Hot Press article encouraging mass promiscuity. It is about Brexit, and the push from the far right to completely undermine democratic politics.

Read More

The Hot Press 40th Anniversary Cover Exhibition Goes On Display This Friday

The cover of Hot Press is a national institution, coveted by emerging musicians and established stars alike. Now, the historic covers of the magazine – signed by the cover stars, and beautifully printed on specially chosen art paper – have been gathered together for a free exhibition, in the National Photographic Archive, Dublin. Introduction by Niall Stokes…

Read More

We Cannot Exonerate The Catholic Church In Relation To The Tuam Babies

Confirmation of the fact that the remains of hundreds of babies were buried in a so called ‘Mother and Baby’ home in Tuam, Co. Galway is testament to just how sick the attitude to sexuality promulgated by the dominant Church in Ireland really was. In special edition of The Message, on International Women’s Day, Hot Press editor, Niall Stokes reflects on an issue that has provoked outrage and anger.

Read More

The Message - The Enduring Legacy of The Joshua Tree

On March 9, it will be 30 years since the release of The Joshua Tree, a record that transformed U2 into the biggest rock band in the world. In this issue of Hot Press, we look back to the genesis of the album, how it was put together and and what made it work. And ask: has it stood the test of time?

Read More

The Message - Madness in the Garda Siochana

Over the past week, astonishing revelations have emerged about Garda collusion in a campaign of vilification which painted the whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe, as a sex offender. With the ‘Child and Family Agency’ Tusla being dragged into it, this has become a real horror story...

Read More

How Far Is Donald Trump Prepared To Go? - The Message From The Editor

With Steve Bannon directing operations, and aided and abetted by a bunch of power-crazed loonies, the answer is probably very far indeed. Things could get extremely nasty...

Read More

From Ireland to the US, citizens and musicians alike are getting more politically engaged

There's a rocky road ahead. And we’re not talking about the one from Galway to Dublin. The good news is that Irish musicians have become far more politically involved than ever before. The bad news is that we are all facing into a particularly difficult and uncertain future. So how can we all – citizens, musicians and the media alike – deal with the political challenges ahead, from the Referendum to Repeal the 8th to the effects of Donald Trump’s presidency, knowing that we have entered the post-truth world – and that this is the backdrop against which fascism has been gaining momentum?

Read More

From the archives: Hot Press met U2 back in 1987 following the release of The Joshua Tree

It took the combined force of Hot Press' Editor Niall Stokes and U2 journalist extraordinaire Bill Graham to thrash it out with the four members of U2 back in 1987 to uncover the method and the magic behind their seminal album THe Joshua Tree.

Read More

U2 Joshua Tree Tour: It Will Be Confirmed This Morning

Speculation has been mounting about a special U2 tour that would celebrate the release of their global smash hit album The Joshua Tree, 30 years on. Well, the announcement will be made this morning...

Read More

Frank Murray: A Final Farewell

The funeral took place yesterday of Frank Murray – the man who began his career as tour manager with Thin Lizzy, and worked with Elton John and The Specials, before managing The Pogues, as well as The Frames, The Lost Brothers and more, in what was a highly distinguished career.

Read More

The Message - Donald Trump: The Threat to the US is Real

Christmas may be coming - but in the wake of the most astonishing US Presidential election in living memory, the fear that a cadre of white supremacists may get their hands on the levers of power is growing. And it feels like uncharted territory...

Read More

Glen Hansard To Receive Oscar Wilde Award 2017

One of the leading lights of Irish music for the past 25 years, Glen Hansard has been chosen as the recipient of the Oscar Wilde Award for 2017 – which will be presented during Oscar week in the Los Angeles. No one is more deserving...

Read More

Men, Violence – and The Rise of Donald Trump

This is 2016 and very strange and deeply disquieting things have been happening in the US and here in Ireland. It might help if we stopped singing the praises of people guilty of butchering their families, Niall Stokes said in The Message, written in that pregnant pause between the opening of the polling booths and the calculation of the result in the US election. Clearly an afterword is required…

Read More

Mike McCormack Wins Goldsmiths Prize

There was an Irish winner tonight, as the novel Solar Bones found favour with the judges, in an award which aims to reward genuine innovation...

Read More

Bob Dylan and The Nobel Prize

The decision of the Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan had some culture snobs frothing at the mouth. Even Bob doesn’t seem to know what to make of it all.

Read More

Packed House For Wild Goose Lodge Premiere

It was an emotional occasion when the home-spun Irish epic was unvelied in Dublin’s Savoy Cinema last night.

Read More

The Message on Donald Trump: The Great Samuel J. Snort III Esq. Enters the Race

The World’s Greatest Rock Journalist has broken a decade-long silence to discuss his potential role in the Presidential stakes…

Read More

JP McMahon’s Aniar Retains Michelin Star

Considerable controversy has surrounded the trail-blazing Galway restaurant – but the Michelin judges say that it’s still right up there, at the top of the game.

Read More

The Message: And Then There Were Four

It is just over 40 years, since Larry Mullen put the note on the noticeboard in Mount Temple Comprehensive, which led to the formation of U2. As various contributions to this special issue of Hot Press confirm, that gesture changed the world for millions of people all over the globe. But that they are still together is perhaps the band’s greatest achievement...

Read More

The New Proclamation – Repeal The Eighth

The Hot Press Collective sends a message to the people of Ireland

Read More

Jackie Hayden and Peter Murphy For Wexford Lit Fest

Hot Press alumni are among the leading attractions at the upcoming Write By The Sea festival in Kilmore Quay

Read More

The Message: Niall Stokes - We Should Adopt The New Zealand Model

The Minister for Skills, Training and Innovation, John Halligan put his head above the parapet in relation to the laws on prostitution in Ireland. As it happens, he was right.

Read More

The Message: THE SOONER WE REPEAL THE 8th AMENDMENT THE BETTER

Irish people have moved on in a way that is genuinely impressive. Dr. Lara Kelly’s testimony on abortion is one example. But there is a new honesty among Irish politicians too that gives cause for optimism.

Read More

DJ Paul Claffey Features In Moving Video of Likely Murder Victim Sandra Collins

The family of the Mayo woman, who disappeared in December 2000, have called for an inquest into her death...

Read More

A Message to Nice: "Our hearts are with the bereft people of Nice in this terrible moment."

Anyone who has experienced the manifest beauty and wonderful joie-de-vivre of Nice at its best will have been deeply moved at the shocking mass murder on the Promenade des Anglais July 18. But Europe must look into its own heart too, to find answers..

Read More

HMV Not Aiming To Take On Netflix!

Reports that HMV are to close down their four Irish stores have been confirmed – but news reports that the company’s new online platform will go head to head with streaming giant, Netflix, are not accurate.

Read More

Virgin Media Secures Coronation Street and Emmerdale For 10 Years

Details are emerging of the deal, concluded yesterday, which saw Virgin Media – owners of TV3 – buy UTV Ireland

Read More

AFTER BREXIT, THE TROLLS WILL FLOURISH

The UK referendum was won by the Leave side on the promise that Britain would take back control of its borders. Their victory will stoke far right, anti-immigrant sentiment across the continent.

Read More

Brady, Hendrick and McCarthy Star As France Beat Ireland

For a wonderful 60 minutes, it seemed that Ireland might just oust the hosts France from Euro 2016. That dream may have died as a result of errors in Lyons yesterday – but the sense that Irish football is on the rise once more is a wonderfully encouraging one. By Niall Stokes.

Read More

Wes Hoolahan The Hero As Ireland Draw With Sweden

It was an enthralling day of football at Euro 2016, with Ireland getting off to a solid start in Group E – only to be trumped by a brilliant Italian win over Belgium.

Read More

Stop everything, Euro 2016 is upon us!

Irish Water and Repealing the 8th can take a back-seat as the Euros kick-off in France. Now all we need are a few Shane Long hat-tricks to seal the deal...

Read More

From The Archives: Let There Be Light On Same Sex Marriage

A year on from our historic and momentous 'Yes' vote on Ireland's same-sex marriage referendum, we look back at Niall Stokes' pre-vote message urging the citizens of Ireland to vote for freedom, equality and mutual respect

Read More

The Message: It Is Time to Educate Together

Religious control of schools promotes inequality, prejudice, division – and worse. It is also against the founding spirit of the Republic. It must be challenged now.

Read More

Guy Clark: After David Bowie and Prince Another Genius Departs

Guy Clark was one of the greatest songwriters of the modern era – and in Old No.1, he made one of the most extraordinary and enduring albums of all time. By Hot Press editor, Niall Stokes

Read More

The Message: Farewell to a Legend

Prince was the latest in a long line of black artists - from Sam Cooke and Otis Redding to Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye - to push the envelope, both musically and culturally...

Read More

The Message: Our Patience is Running Out

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil need to end the posturing and hammer out a deal, which will provide the country with a sustainable government.

Read More

The Message: 1916: History In The making

The Proclamation of 1916 was a powerful document. In recalling the momentous events of a hundred years ago, it is important not just to honour those who took part in the Rising, but- even more so- to see what we can learn in order to best shape our future...

Read More

The Message: The Party's Over

Where now for the Labour Party, after an electoral annihilation the scale of which outstripped all their worst fears?

Read More

The Message - Niall Stokes on the election's burning issues

As the nation heads to the polls, it’s vital to consider not just the candidates vying for our votes, but the type of country in which we want to live

Read More

An Interview With Enya: She Moves In Mysterious Ways

When Enya released Watermark in 1988, it WAS the beginning of one of the most remarkable chapters in the story of Irish music. With Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan ever-present as collaborators, 80 million album sales and dozens of awards followed. Now, after a seven year hiatus, she is back with a new record, Dark Sky Island, and a determination to take the collective’s music to the world in a different way.

Read More

The Message: There Went the Bad Times

Darkness seemed to be everywhere in 2015. It is hard to maintain any sense of hope, when barbarism is so militantly on the rise. But if we don't, we surely will be lost...

Read More

The Message: From the Miami Showband to Le Bataclan

The orchestrated jihadist attacks on Paris were an abomination. And the worst of the atrocities took place at a rock gig in the Bataclan, where 89 people died. So where do we go from here?

Read More

The Message: The U2 Boys Are Back In Town

As the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour finally approaches Irish shores, it's time to once again celebrate U2 - not just the best of Irish, but the greatest rock band in the world.

Read More

The Message: The Church's Control Of Education Must End

As recently highlighted by Roopesh Panicker, it is outrageous that, in 2015, educational discrimination on the basis of religion is still the norm in Ireland.

Read More

The Message: It's Not Easy Being Green

After the high of beating the World Champions, neanderthal tactics and selections by Martin O'Neill ensured that The Boys In Green could not match the Sunday heroics of our rugby team...

Read More

The Message: Why Mental Health Needs a Re-Evaluation

We've come a long way since the '60s, with music, literature, movies, TV and journalism all playing their part to reduce the stigma of mental illness. But reason must still prevail if we are to continue to make strides.

Read More

The Message: Shelter From The Storm

With Europe's response to the refugee crisis lacking in effectiveness and empathy, the threat of ISIS suggests WB Yeats' most chilling words are now perfectly fitting for these times...

Read More

The Message: Johnny Lyons: An Appreciation

Amidst the shock and grief of Johnny Lyons' premature passing, we pause to give thanks to a truly unique character for the countless laughs and many golden memories he gave us. Shine on, sir...

Read More

The Message: No Homes To Go To

As rental prices of houses and apartments skyrocket, especially in Dublin, thousands of Irish men, women and – unforgivably – children find themselves at grave risk of homelessness. Between them, local politicians and the Government must find a solution – and fast...

Read More

The Message: The Dope Show

It is easy to vilify those who take banned substances in the pursuit of sporting glory, but some of those who would be named and shamed are far more sympathetic figures than we would like to admit...

Read More

The Message: Rockin' All Over the World

...Or Ireland at least. Blazing rows erupted and staff members had to be pried apart, but the votes are in and the 50 best Irish gigs since Hot Press's inception have been settled on.

Read More

Berkeley: A Cosmic Injustice

The response to the tragedy in Berkeley was powerful and moving. But it is hard to listen to celebrities claiming a special relationship with God, when there are so many victims of tragedy – and of oppression– to think about...

Read More

The Message: When I Was A Cowboy...

Sunday June 14 marks the 20th anniversary of the legendary Rory Gallagher's tragic death. While the world has changed in many ways, the trail-blazing guitarist's impact is still keenly felt...

Read More

The Message: The Systematic Oppresson of Gays is Over

It was a joy to be alive in Dublin on the day the result of the referendum was announced. But there is still some way to go in the campaign for the separation of Church and State...

Read More

Patti Smith Interview

"We're uncompromising. We're uncompromising to a fault I think. Because sometimes we're wrong. Sometimes we wind-up up blind alleys. You know. Maybe Radio Ethiopia sucks. I Don't know. Me and Patti are the only ones that like it in the world. But I don't care 'cos when we put that on we feel great." - Lenny Kaye [First Published in Hot Press Volume 2 No 7, September 1978]

Read More

Let There Be Light

The referendum on same sex marriage is an opportunity for the citizens of Ireland to vote for freedom, equality and mutual respect – and in doing so to show the rest of the world what these words can really mean...

Read More

Five Irish Albums in Top 10

With Hozier, HamsandwicH, Paul Brady, Le Galaxie and Kodaline all doing well, we are witnessing a small boom in Irish music. So how can we ensure that it lifts an even greater number of Ireland’s finest into the charts?

Read More

The Message: We Need To Talk About Charlie

Irish people who genuinely believe in free speech need to support the scrapping of our blasphemy laws.

Read More

The Message: This Nation's Saving Grace

These are turbulent times, as Sinn Fein and socialist Independents find themselves in the unprecedented situation of topping the opinion polls. However you view this, pause to be thankful that there is no hard-Right movement of significance in Ireland, and no apparent appetite for one...

Read More

Glen Hansard Unveils New Songs At Film Fundraiser

It was one of those special Dublin nights. The occasion was a fund-raiser for a new short film, entitled Descend, directed by Hedi Rose, and written by Irish-based Texan screenwriter Margaret Miller. The location was upstairs in The 51 Bar on Haddington Road.

Read More
 

Advertise With Us


For information including benefits, key facts, figures and rates for advertising with Hot Press, click below

Advertise

Find us elsewhere