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France and Ireland in the Public Imagination

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Benjamin Keatinge and Mary Pierse

This engaging collection of essays considers the cultural complexities of the Franco-Irish relationship in song and story, image and cuisine, novels, paintings and poetry. It casts a fresh eye on public perceptions of the historic bonds between Ireland and France, revealing a rich variety of contact and influence. Controversy is not shirked, whether on the subject of Irish economic decline or reflecting on prominent, contentious personalities such as Ian Paisley and Michel Houellebecq. Contrasting ideas of the popular and the intellectual emerge in a study of Brendan Kennelly; recent Irish tribunals are analysed in the light of French cultural theory; and familiar renditions of Franco-Irish links are re-evaluated against the evidence of newspaper and journal accounts.
Drawing on the disciplines of history, art, economics and literature, and dipping into the good wines of France and Ireland, the book paints a fascinating picture of the relationship between the two countries over three dramatic centuries.
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Towards an Irish Republic: Cultural Critique and an Alternative Paradigm

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To say that Ireland, as a republic, is at a point of crisis is a truism. Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland is very much devoid of capital – financial, political and cultural. Financially, from 2008 to 2013, Ireland was under de facto rule from the EU, the ECB and the IMF; a cash bailout was required to run the country, and government spending was subject to quarterly review of its national accounts if a flow of capital was to be guaranteed. Politically, Ireland has been seen as corrupt in the wake of the release of the two tribunal reports, the Mahon Report1 in 2011, and the Moriarty Report2 in 2012, while issues of moral corruption arise in the Murphy and Ryan reports into clerical child abuse. The overall effect of such shocks to the body politic in Ireland has been seismic.

Under a specific act of law, the Tribunals of Enquiry Act of 1921, the Oireachtas, the Irish parliament, sets up such bodies. They do not have a judicial function per se; their role is inquisitorial as they can enforce attendance and the production of documents. As an agent of society, they can bring to the surface that which remains hidden. The Mahon tribunal was set up in 1997 to inquire into suspected corruption of the planning process in Dublin as suspicions had been raised about payments by developers to politicians. And its findings were stark: ‘throughout that period, corruption in Irish political life was both endemic and systemic’,...

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