FERGUS FINLAY

FERGUS FINLAY: Thomas Barnardo changed the way we think about children

ISN’T Culture Night fantastic? I don’t know what it was like down your way, but throughout Dublin there was just an amazing buzz last Friday night. Queues everywhere to get into places like St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Dublinia exhibition, and throngs of people in the streets. There was an incredible downpour around half seven, but it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Our education system is failing the test for pre-schoolers

IF there’s anything that makes us universally smug, it’s the wonderful unbeatable quality of our education system. The best little education system in the world, isn’t it? Only the other night I saw young people on the 9 o’clock News, clutching their Junior Cert results, their faces awash with relief and happiness at their results. They were on track to get the points they needed for college.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Ireland has an underclass only because we look the ‘other’ way

WHEN my wife was a child, she was taken to mass every Sunday. Every Sunday, she noticed a small group of children, in what seemed to be reserved seats to the side of the church. They were always cold, pinched and blue. Dressed in khaki, they would troop in quietly at the start and troop out again, through a side door, at the end.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Government needs to be on the money with forthcoming budget

WATCHED the first episode of The West Wing, for the first time in years, the other night. I’d forgotten how good it was: a dense, fast-paced political drama, packed with dialogue and incident. You knew you were watching something good.

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Richard Dawkins

FERGUS FINLAY: A brave and fictional boy matters a lot more than an intellectual giant

I was going to write 1,200 words about Richard Dawkins, a man whose behaviour incensed me beyond words last week. The more I thought about it, the more I thought he wasn’t worth it. Instead, I want to write about Joe Kavanagh.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Protect mothers by rewriting the Constitution and turning the tide

I HAVE fallen in love with my children and my grandchildren all over again in the last fortnight. Of course, they’ve always meant the world to me, but, suddenly — I’m talking about the grandchildren — they’re personalities in their own right.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Bruton can’t continue to ignore the reality of people’s lives

Is he naïve? Stupid? Unthinking? Callous? Some combination of all of those qualities?

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Louise O'Keeffe

FERGUS FINLAY: Abuse of Louise is a lesson for the arrogant Department of Education

THE Department of Education is an extraordinary place. In the various bits of bumph it publishes from time to time — annual reports, statements of strategy, and the like — it sets out its mission as "enabling learners to achieve their full potential and contribute to Ireland’s economic, social, and cultural development".

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FERGUS FINLAY: New agency needed to monitor standards in our health services

Aras Attracta is home to nearly a hundred people. It’s in Swinford in County Mayo. It has a website, part of the much larger HSE website.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Russia and Israel must answer for their crimes against humanity

AS far as I can tell, any government which is a party to the Rome Statute can refer a crime to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The Rome Statute is the piece of international law that set up the Court.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Everyone must sing from the same hymn sheet to achieve common good

GARRET Fitzgerald believed in the common good. He talked about it as the cornerstone of public policy, and advocated that government promote it.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Gilmore, Rabbitte and Quinn built strong track records of success

IT was GK Chesterton who said about the Irish that "the great Gaels of Ireland, Are the men that God made mad, For all their wars are merry, And all their songs are sad". I don’t know about the wars, but the mournfulness of the songs is the reason I’ve never been a huge fan of Irish traditional music, if the truth be told.

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FERGUS FINLAY: Unmask disability, enable a right to expression, and magic can happen

MARGARET McLOUGHLIN was born with three things. Down syndrome; a serious untreatable heart condition; and a huge, infectious, and empathetic personality. She wasn’t expected to live. But live she did, to the fullest extent that was possible.

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