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.
A lot has changed in Ireland. Not very long ago at all, you couldn’t even begin to discuss mental illness here for fear of being incarcerated. The stigma associated with acknowledging any sort of condition was far too great. You were better just to shut up, get on with it and hope for the best. Until the worst happened.
Of course, that culture of repression and shame was a recipe for disaster. Instead of talking about the issues that were weighing on them, people who suffered from depression, anxiety, panic attacks or even schizophrenia bottled it up as best they could. In general, those affected by mental health issues were made to feel like lesser human beings. And as a result many people suffered complete breakdowns that most likely could have been avoided. No one knows the real figures in relation to suicides historically in Ireland, but there is no doubt that a huge number occurred. Most of them were recorded, essentially because of religious scruples, as “death by misadventure”. Stigma ruled in this regard too.
The responses of families to real evidence of mental disorder, or breakdown, varied greatly. Some just wanted to be rid of problematic sons or daughters, conniving to have them certified as discreetly as was allowed. Others did everything they could to help and protect their children – and frequently ended up living under a form of siege, forced to deal with behaviour that was often deeply troubling and sometimes downright intimidating, almost entirely on their own. And in between were the rest: people who simply didn’t know how to cope one way or the other. In effect the State did as little as it could to help either those dealing with their own mental health issues – or their families. But the essential modus operandi of the authorities, once a mental health issue had been acknowledged, was to lock those grappling with the problem up, and throw away the key.
The conventional wisdom is that Ireland has always had more than its fair share of cases of people with psychiatric disorders. Modern research, however, indicates otherwise. More people were locked up here, certainly. But this was part of a process which has recently been characterised as “coercive confinement”. Psychiatric hospitals were used, in effect, as places where society – and families – could dispose of people who were outcasts, and who were treated accordingly.
These might include women and girls who had transgressed by being sexually active; boys who were homosexual; or people of either sex who had shown signs of being in one or other form of psychiatric distress.The problem was that hospitals became dumping grounds, places from which it became increasingly hard to re-emerge in one piece.
The first record of public provision for those with mental health issues in Ireland was in 1708, when cells were erected for what were clumsily termed ‘pauper lunatics’ in the Dublin City Workhouse. Later that century, in 1757, the great Protestant clergyman and satirist Jonathan Swift opened the doors of the so called ‘Hospital for the Insane’ in Dublin, to 50 fee-paying patients.
Swift’s intentions were good, as were those of the men and women who followed in his footsteps. The idea of providing asylum for individuals who were finding it difficult – or in some cases impossible – to cope is an essentially humanitarian one. But that initially generous impulse became perverted along the way. In 1851, there were 3,234 people in ‘asylums’ in Ireland. By the beginning of the First World War, in 1914, that figure had increased to 16,941.
The population of the 26 counties may have diminished in the years that followed independence, hitting an all-time low of 2.7 million in 1957, but the number of people who were effectively locked away continued to grow. In 1963 it peaked, at an astonishing 20,000. But as the increasing enlightenment of the 1960s took hold, that number began to decrease.
There is no obvious reason to believe that the underlying incidence of serious mental health issues has changed significantly here. In the 1960s, a new school of thought emerged in psychiatry that challenged the prevailing assumption that a mix of incarceration and invasive treatment was what was required to address mental health issues. It is almost impossible now to understand how a treatment like lobotomy, or indeed Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), could possibly have found such widespread acceptance within the medical profession, except that it was part of a wider culture of contempt for ordinary people, which was underpinned by the sense of moral superiority cultivated by Ireland’s grim romance with Christianity, and with institutionalised Catholicism in particular. The same impulse reigned in the Mother and Baby homes. And in the Industrial Schools.
The individuals slung into these gulags were viewed as being less than fully human. They had no rights.They were coerced intowhat amounted to slave labour. And they could be detained permanently where they were, at the whim of their (generally) religious jailers. And that is what happened in Irish psychiatric hospitals too.
At first glance, the topline figures in 2013 do not seem that different. Then, 18,457 people were admitted to psychiatric units and hospitals in Ireland. Of these 51% were female and 49% male – more or less reflecting the male / female bias in the population at large. The highest number of admissions was in the 55 to 64 year age group, at .59% of that demographic. The highest proportion of first-time admissions was among 18 to 19 year olds, at .26%.
These Irish figures have to be understood against the backdrop that the incidence of mental health issues is currently high throughout the world. According to the World Health Organisation, over a third of people worldwide have reported sufficient criteria to be diagnosed at some point in their lives. In 2001, the WHO estimated that 450 million people suffer from some form of mental disorder or brain condition. By far the highest number of cases relate to ‘Unipolar Depressive Disorders’, running at approximately three times the volume relating to alcohol use disorders, followed by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ‘alzheimer and other forms of dementia’.
Social deprivation is a significant factor in mental health issues. This is confirmed by the fact that the highest rate of admission in Ireland is among the ‘unskilled’ group, at just over .8%. Study of homeless people in Dublin and Limerick carried out in 2013 confirmed that 58% had at least one mental health condition. In addition, there was a 36% increase of admissions of homeless people to psychiatric units between 2006 and 2013.
While these figures are frightening, as indeed is the increase in the numbers taking their own lives, there is some light on the horizon. With the exception of those who are homeless, the majority of people affected are not at risk of long- term institutionalisation. During the course of 2013, there were 18,335 discharges from psychiatric units in Ireland, more or less equalling the number of admissions. The vast majority of these discharges (95%) occurred within three months of admission. The most common diagnoses recorded were depressive disorders (28%); schizophrenia (20%); mania (11%); and alcoholic disorders (8%). The number of long-term psychiatric inpatients in Ireland was down to just 2,812.
In 2006, the policy document for the transformation of Mental Health services in Ireland, A Vision For Change, was published. In it, a progressive increase in the proportion of overall health funding given to mental health was recommended. Since then, the State has badly failed to deliver on the promises made in that blueprint. To an extent, this is a result of the economic collapse, which forced successive Governments into making brutal decisions to reduce expenditure. However, that is only part of the story. In 1984, 13% of total health expenditure was dedicated to Mental Health. This had plummeted to 7.2% in 2006, when the report was published. Shockingly, this had further decreased to 5.2% by 2012.
Overall, this suggests that the State has effectively dumped the problem of dealing with Mental Health issues back on families and the community. Managed in the wrong way, ‘community care’ is one of the great modern deceptions. There is no question but that it was imperative to end the era of compulsory hospitalisation, and the effective imprisonment of people who were wrestling with mental health issues of one kind or another. But, equally, it is grossly wrong and unfair to load the problem of caring for those with serious mental health problems onto their individual families.
And, furthermore, it is deeply misguided to discriminate against those with long-term mental health conditions by insisting that they have to pay for their medication, where patients with, say, heart conditions or diabetes have their medicine paid for by the State.
Inevitably, the recession has had the effect of exacerbating the incidence of mental illness. Anecdotally, it is generally accepted that the number of suicides in Ireland has increased significantly, especially among people who found themselves in financial difficulties. What is less widely recognised, however, is that young people have been similarly affected.
According to a report produced in 2012 by Amnesty International, between October 2011 and September 2012, 8,671 new cases among the child and adolescent population were seen by community CAMHS teams, compared with 7,849 in the previous 12 months, representing an increase of 10%. In the same period, there were 9,973 referrals accepted by CAMHS teams, representing a 17% increase on the previous 12 months.
On the positive side, what has certainly changed is the awareness of mental health issues among ordinary people. The stigma which had attached to mental health problems has to a considerable extent been shed. Popular culture, including music, movies, literature, TV, and journalism have played a huge part in this shift. Increasingly sporting icons and rock ’n’ roll stars alike have publicly acknowledged the battles they have personally fought, and the demons they have dealt with. In Ireland, Niall Breslin of The Blizzards and The Voice of Ireland is currently at No.1 in the bestsellers with his book Me and my Mate Jeffrey – an account of his battle with depression, anxiety and panic attacks. As a result, young people are now operating in a far better and more responsive climate than was the case even ten years ago. It makes a crucial difference. But that does not mean that we are on the high road. Far from it.
Because the flip side of the old way, of not acknowledging mental health issues, is the modern far too blasé prescription of drugs by GPs, to people who present with anything which might be interpreted as depression, or indeed any other of a myriad of mental health related conditions. This is an issue not just regarding mental health. In general, there is a chronic over-reliance by the Irish medical profession on prescribing drugs, as if they are the answer to everything. But the issue is potentially even more problematic where depression and other mental health issues are concerned.
Prescription drugs have a role. They can be very helpful and effective. But there is an increasing concern among some medical professionals that they are prescribed far too blithely – and, in many cases, for far too long.
There is a huge cost involved in using prescription drugs to treat mental health problems. But there is also an issue with the addictiveness of the drugs themselves. And with the too pat diagnosis by over-stretched GPs, who feel the need to get every patient out the door quickly, so that they can deal with the queue more efficiently.
There is no quick-fix solution to any of this. Where the mental health of young people in particular is concerned, however, what we have to do, as a society, includes the following:
(a) effectively encourage better self health- management;
(b) increase awareness and support in schools and colleges;
(c) empower individuals by cultivating lifestyle improvements, especially among those at risk;
(d) address issues of bullying, isolation and harassment, especially via social media;
(e) develop and support effective non- pharmaceutical therapies;
(f ) insist on the careful use of drugs by GPs and psychiatrists;
(g) and, finally, provide drugs free of charge to patients, where there is a long-term need.
These seven steps would, at least, be a first important shift towards improving the long- term mental health of the nation. The big question is: do we have the political will to make it happen?
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
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
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
The Ireland and Leinster rugby star tells Hot Press that it is time for change.Read More
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
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’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
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 ChinaRead More
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
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
From Hot Press' 2002 Annual, Bono spoke to Niall Stokes about all matters personal and political.Read More
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
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
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 DonaldRead More
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 StokesRead More
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
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 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 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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
It was an emotional occasion when the home-spun Irish epic was unvelied in Dublin’s Savoy Cinema last night.Read More
The World’s Greatest Rock Journalist has broken a decade-long silence to discuss his potential role in the Presidential stakes…Read More
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
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 Hot Press Collective sends a message to the people of IrelandRead More
Hot Press alumni are among the leading attractions at the upcoming Write By The Sea festival in Kilmore QuayRead More
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
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
The family of the Mayo woman, who disappeared in December 2000, have called for an inquest into her death...Read More
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
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
Details are emerging of the deal, concluded yesterday, which saw Virgin Media – owners of TV3 – buy UTV IrelandRead More
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
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
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
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
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 respectRead More
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 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 StokesRead More
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
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 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
Where now for the Labour Party, after an electoral annihilation the scale of which outstripped all their worst fears?Read More
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 liveRead More
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
...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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
Irish people who genuinely believe in free speech need to support the scrapping of our blasphemy laws.Read More
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
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
Like paying to have your rubbish collected, Irish Water is another stealth charge, the genesis of which goes back to the decision to abolish household rates...Read More
Check out her take on 'Dreaming'...Read More
When U2 released their latest album Songs of Innocence, it was the subject of heated controversy. While the arguments aren't over yet, the attention is gradually turning to the music...Read More
The hacking of Jennifer Lawrence's phone, and the leaking of her private photos, was a criminal action – and much of the subsequent reaction was downright nasty.Read More
If we want to end the stigma associated with suicide, we first have to acknowledge the right to die. Far from being a threat, it is empowering to know that our future is in our own hands.Read More
Well known Dublin band are back with a crash, bang and wallop...Read More
Ours is an increasingly multi-cultural society. However, our vast State bureaucracy has refused to move with the times. Fundamental changes are needed if asylum seekers coming to Ireland are to receive justice.Read More
Your student years are a wonderful prospect, offering the possibilities of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll – but there is far more to them than that...Read More
The bare facts of a new case which surfaced last week are utterly shocking. Will this be the final straw that shames Ireland’s legislators into adopting a sensible abortion policy?Read More
Israel’s indiscriminate massacring of Palestinian men, women and children is an outrage, and they appear to have total impunity to carry on doing it. So how do we go about putting a stop to the slaughter?Read More
When Garth Brooks decided to launch his return to the live arena with a series of shows here, it was a huge statement of faith in Ireland and in his Irish fans.Read More
On the 20th anniversary of Riverdance, composer Bill Whelan looks back at the phenomenon he gave birth to, recalls the fateful decision to sack Michael Flatley, discusses the Limerick City Of Culture controversy and shares his thoughts on the future of music in an era when fewer and fewer people pay for records.Read More
The terrible truth is that there is nothing surprising about the revelations emerging about the treatment of young women and their children in mother and baby homes.Read More