Archive for November 23rd, 2009

A historian’s view of Tuesday’s public sector strike

23 November 2009

Contributed by Brian Hanley

This Tuesday, 24 November, will see a nationwide public sector strike in protest at the government’s plans to implement cutbacks as part of their strategy of dealing with the economic crisis. The strike will see also historians joining picket lines at universities and colleges. For Irish Academics to take industrial action is rare (Marie Coleman’s history of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) tells the very interesting story of their first strike at Maynooth during 1977) and the fact that they are doing so now has caused some adverse comment. Aside from those who agree with the government’s strategy and therefore see no reason to protest against it, there are others, and I’ve had plenty of discussions on these lines myself, who believe academics are too highly paid anyway, work very short hours and have no real reason to object to cuts. Opinion among students is also divided, with the Students Union at Maynooth reportedly advising their members to pass pickets and attend college. Without a doubt there are those in academia and in university management who have been very well rewarded and are highly paid by any standards. Historians are also lucky enough to work at something we enjoy, and be able to research and write about things that interest us. But, as readers of this blog will probably know, high wages and secure contracts are far from the universal picture, particularly for younger academics, who face short term contracts and long periods of part-time work or unemployment with little prospect of a permanent contract. Read More

Henry’s handball? Plus ça change

23 November 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

A trip to Paris marred by a poor refereeing decision, a French manager arriving in Dublin ‘lurching from one crisis to another’, Liam Brady reflecting that ‘the difference between making it and not making it is so slight – but why is it that we never get the breaks that would make the difference?’ and an Irish manager uttering ‘You are a disgrace and a cheat’? Not 2009 but 1981. Plus ça change.

On 27 October 1980, Ireland’s football team arrived in Paris for a World Cup qualifier, top of their group and in a good position to take a significant step toward their first major tournament. They had taken two victories over Cyprus, beaten a fading Dutch side in Dublin, and drawn with Belgium. But from Paris events took a turn that makes Henry’s handball, in the words of Shirley Bassey, look like just a little bit of history repeating. Read More