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Economic Changes in the North

 v Economic Changes in the North           Gerry OShea A hundred years ago the economy in Belfast and its hinterland was booming led by shipbuilding and the burgeoning linen industry. With help from the English establishment, these industries were controlled by the Protestant community in Northern Ireland. Employment for Catholics was largely confined to lower-paying jobs; papists were deemed lazy and unreliable. Loyalists believed that their dominance of industry was further proof of the superiority of their religion. God was on their side. From their perspective, Catholics, subservient to the Vatican, lacked ambition and industriousness. They pointed to Dublin, a city in the economic doldrums where a good job in Guinness’ brewery – owned by a Protestant family – was a prized possession. Edward Carson, the top Unionist leader, boasted that the new six-county statelet with a clear Protestant majority would “guarantee power in perpetuity” to loyalists. All this balderdash talk a
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The Big Lie

  The Big Lie              Gerry OShea In a conversation last year between China’s President Xi and President Biden, the Chinese leader commented that democratic systems of government are crumbling while autocracies are on the rise. Communist countries always stress the need for long-term economic planning which they claim is essential for coherent and workable policymaking. It is an age-old argument used by kings and sultans throughout the centuries. From their perspective, allowing parliaments or courts to provide a check on the leader only results in prevarication and confusion.   Disregard for the rule of law and for the importance of human rights characterizes all autocratic regimes. Think of the Uyghur people, a Muslim sect who comprise a majority of the 19 million inhabitants of the Chinese province of Turkestan. About one million Uyghurs have been imprisoned and tortured, including forced sterilization, because they refuse to give up their religious beliefs and custom
 Religion and PoliticsReligion and Politics          Gerry O’Shea The Peace of Augsburg in 1555 ended for a while the wars that plagued Europe after the Protestant Reformation which started about forty years earlier. They agreed a working principle that was known in Latin as cuius regio, eius religio, meaning that the religious affiliation of the leader of each state would determine whether Protestantism or Catholicism would be practiced in the territory he controlled. Anyone who didn’t want to abide by this rule could move to a different jurisdiction.  This dictatorial approach still prevails in some countries. In Iran, for instance, women who refuse to wear the hijab to cover their faces are subject to prosecution. While the Quran affirms women’s equality it also requires that they must veil their faces in public and be accompanied by a male outside of the home. The legal system in Saudi Arabia also demotes women to legal appendages of males and even bars them from praying in public.

Three Major Irish Constitutional Leaders

         Three Major Irish Constitutional Leaders            Gerry OShea Daniel O’Connell, Charles Parnell and John Redmond are correctly considered the three foremost Irish parliamentary leaders in the 19th century, with Mr. Redmond’s time extending into the important early decades of the 1900’s. The main goal of all three centered on the abolition of the Act of Union which was passed in Westminster in 1801. After that date all administrative and political decisions involving Ireland were made by the London government. Those assigned the top jobs were appointed by the British prime minister or his henchmen. These powerful administrators working from the various lodges and power centers in Dublin made the decisions that impacted the lives of Irish people in every corner of the island. From an Irish perspective this amalgamation of the two kingdoms was a highly unacceptable arrangement. Bureaucrats with only tangential contact with the local population made all the calls regarding land

Racism and Slavery in Ireland

  Racism and Slavery in Ireland The Berkeley Library in Trinity College Dublin was built in the late 1960’s and in 1978 it was named after one of its famous graduates, George Berkeley. It is recognized as the university’s signature library. Mr. Berkeley served as the Protestant Bishop of Cloyne, but he achieved fame because of his brilliant philosophical writing and lecturing. He was the leading idealist - not the common current understanding of this term - of his time, meaning he denied the existence of matter, arguing that reality is constituted solely by spirits and their ideas, extending upwards all the way to God. Readers may well join me in finding such ideas obtuse, almost incomprehensible. However, Berkeley’s thinking and voluminous writings feature prominently in university Philosophy classes all over the world. His ideas provide a springboard for professors to engage their students in the age-old question: what is real in the universe, and can rational disputation enhance the

Wealth and Poverty in America

  Wealth and Poverty in America         Gerry OShea Ask any political consultant in the United States what drives people to the polls on election day and you are very likely to hear that kitchen table issues are the number one consideration. Most would agree with James Carville, President Clinton’s guru in the 90’s, that “it is the economy stupid.” Using that yardstick Joe Biden is in deep trouble in his 2024 presidential election bid. Inflation remains a serious problem in America. Gas prices fell to close to $3.00 a gallon but they are moving up lately and are touching $4.00 in some places in New York. Staple family food items remain significantly higher than when the Democrats took over the White House in January 2021. No wonder that the President’s performance rating hovers around 40%. Yet he has already won record bipartisan congressional approval for spending close to two trillion dollars for much-needed infrastructure projects and for unprecedented investment in decarboniz

The Banality of Evil

  The Banality of Evil        Gerry OShea Can one do evil acts without being evil? This was the deep and puzzling question raised by the philosopher Hannah Arendt when she reported for The New Yorker in 1961 on the war crimes trial of Adolph Eichmann. He was the Nazi operative who was responsible for organizing the transportation of millions of Jews and others to various concentration camps in compliance with his government’s policies propounded as the Final Solution. Fr. Thomas Merton, the famous Trappist monk and spiritual writer, confronted the same question in an essay entitled A Devout Meditation in Memory of Adolph Eichmann . He was impressed that a distinguished psychiatrist examined Eichmann and pronounced him perfectly sane. Merton said that he didn’t doubt the expert’s conclusion, but he considered his findings to be deeply disturbing. Arendt found Eichmann a rather bland bureaucrat, who in her words was ‘neither perverted nor sadistic,’ but ‘terrifyingly normal.’ He w