Peadar Kirby and Mary Murphy have had their book, Towards a Second Republic: Irish Politics after the Celtic Tiger (Pluto, 2011) reviewed in Village magazine earlier this month. Niall Crowley, who reviewed the book, leads in to his article by saying that the authors take up the challenge as laid out by Irish President Michael D. Higgins, for intellectuals to be ‘original, creative and emancipatory’ in their scholarship. A great start if ever there was one.
We’ve reproduced a sizeable chunk of the review below, but as ever, to read the whole thing, go to Village magazine.
Culture and institutions are at the heart of their analysis and vision. Culture is the mix of ideas and values that shape what we aspire to. Institutions are those political and administrative entities that enable us to make these aspirations real. Interests and the balance of interests are then central to this analysis in determining the direction, or even the possibility, of change.
The authors offer an uncomfortable analysis. They make the case for a Second Republic and identify the changes that must be sought in culture and institutions.
They point to a popular discourse dominating Irish politics that poses as value- free. This has allowed dominance of the neo-liberal ideology. They blame the absence of a counter discourse on monopoly ownership of the media; co-option into social partnership of civil society; creeping state control of civil society; the absence of a radical critique by cultural writers and artists who are supported by the state; and a diminution of robust debate and political satire in public broadcasting.
They describe Irish politics as profoundly populist and localist in nature and culture. They draw from a range of sources to point to two key problems with our political institutions. We have a centralised parliament notorious for its ineffectiveness in making policy or overseeing the executive and we have an electoral system that promotes localism and clientelism over policy-making, values and leadership. In relation to the state administration they point to issues of accountability and transparency alongside a relatively weak policy capacity and implementation record at national and local level.
Irish Politics after the Celtic Tiger
Peadar Kirby and Mary P. Murphy
Analyses Ireland’s economics, politics and society, drawing lessons from its cycles of boom and bust. Proposes new institutions for a fairer Ireland.
“A very important, timely and relevant contribution to the ongoing debate about Ireland’s future and the type of Republic we should aspire towards. Their argument that we must move forward informed by republican values of equality, interdependency and sustainability is both refreshing and compelling. This accessible book should help ignite active public debate. A very welcome addition to Irish political discourse.” – Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste and Leader, Irish Labour Party
“Kirby and Murphy have marched out on the battleground of ideas, asking how our political economy can be reformed. Indeed, they are demanding it. We may be arriving a little late on the scene to question the form of modern capitalism, but the recent crisis has opened up the space for this debate. This is a work of scholarship written with the public in mind. Its contribution is delivered in a true and new republican fashion.” – Eamon Ryan, Leader, Irish Green party