This chapter reviews the Equality Authority's (EA) operations in the decade between its establishment in 1999 and the 2008 crisis, summarising its work in assisting complainants, conducting research and communicating with the public. It explains why the Authority was attacked, by examining three questions in more detail. The questions examined are how the Authority's legal work triggered a backlash from powerful sectors of Irish society and how its cases against the state challenged the status of politicians and public officials. The other question examined is how the Authority's plans to conduct inquiries may have threatened other powerful interests. The Equality Acts and the EA's role within them fall within a liberal egalitarian perspective, as they focus on equal opportunity and the toleration of differences. The chapter concludes by arguing that the EA and the Equality Acts are primarily based on liberal egalitarianism rather than equality of condition.
This book analyses and critiques Irish society in the early twenty-first century, but seeks to do so by consciously avoiding myth-making and generalisation. It invites readers to revisit and rethink twelve events that span the years 2001-2009. It shows that all of these events reveal crucial intersections of structural power and resistance in contemporary Ireland. The book shows how the events carry traces of both social structure and human agency. They were shaped by overarching political, economic, social and cultural currents; but they were also responses to proposals, protests, advocacy and demands that have been articulated by a broad spectrum of social actors. The book also explores how power works ideologically and through policy instruments to support dominant models of capital accumulation. Identities are constructed at the interface between public policy, collective commitments and individual biographies. They mobilise both power and resistance, as they move beyond the realm of the personal and become focal points for debates about rights, responsibilities, resources and even the borders of the nation itself. The book suggests that conceptions of Irish identity and citizenship are being redrawn in more positive ways. Family is the cornerstone, the natural, primary and fundamental unit group of society. Marriage is the religious, cultural, commercial, and political institution that defines and embeds its values. The book presents a 2004 High Court case taken by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan for legal recognition of their marriage as a same-sex couple, which had taken place a year previously in Canada.
The challenge of Dónal Óg Cusack’s ‘coming out’ to heteronormativity in contemporary Irish culture and society
Debbie Ging and Marcus Free
Dónal Óg Cusack, goalkeeper for the Cork Senior hurling team, publicly announced that he was gay in the Irish Mail on Sunday, shortly before the release of his auto biography, Come What May. This chapter asks whether, to what extent and why Dónal Óg Cusack's coming out was a significant milestone in Ireland's very recent history. It explores the ways in which it represented change and/or continuity in a small island nation in which both traditional and (post)modern concepts of gender and sexuality coexist and compete. The historical and current-day significance of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in the construction of both Irish and masculine identity cannot be underestimated. The tone and tenor of media coverage of Cusack's revelation similarly illustrate the book's (Come What May) significant but partially limited impact in undoing hegemonic assumptions of sexual orientation and of gender identity and behaviour in sport.
On 25 August 2003, An Bord Pleanala gave the go-ahead for the M3 motorway to be built along the Gabhra valley through the Tara landscape. The circumstances and controversy of this decision have since become emblematic of the loss of compass that characterised 'Celtic Tiger' Ireland. This chapter considers some of the circumstances that permitted a motorway to be built through such a historic landscape. A clash between a new era and old values occurred; the M3 symbolised the knife that would cut the leathery umbilicus tethering bold, new, materially rich Ireland to the corpse of old, impoverished, historically enslaved Ireland. The National Museum of Ireland had publicly queried the position adopted by the National Monuments Service (NMS) over Carrickmines Castle. The Carrickmines Castle stood in the way of the part of the South Eastern Route of the M50 motorway in Dublin.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book analyses Irish society in the early twenty-first century, but seeks to do so by consciously avoiding myth-making and generalisation. It explores how power works ideologically and through policy instruments to support dominant models of capital accumulation. The book discusses how neo-liberalism as both an ideology and practice continues to 'fail forward' despite being implicated as cause and aftereffect of the global economic crisis. It describes the powerful discursive and disciplinary force of 'development'; how it is invoked in politics and the media to nullify debate and to disguise its own ideological underpinnings and the provisionality of its assumptions. The book presents twelve events that span the years 2001-2009.
On 11 June 2004, the Irish electorate voted on the 'Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution Bill' or, as it is more generally known, the Citizenship Referendum. This chapter presents Ireland's shift in emphasis regarding the meaning of citizenship and how it was expressed in the specific wording of the Constitution and in wider discourses of national identity and civil rights. In order to grasp the breadth of the issues involved, the chapter describes the key concepts of citizenship, 'race' and racialisation, and the state. It suggests that the Citizenship Act (2005) racialised Irish nationality. That is, it gave primary preference to bloodlines as its principal criterion for belonging, thus dividing Irish children into two categories with differential access to the rights and responsibilities accruing to citizens. They are Irish children and 'Irish-born children' ('IBC').
Reformatory and industrial schools and twentieth-century Ireland
This chapter explores the responses to the Ryan Report and, more generally, to analyse differing explanations for the system of industrial and reformatory schools that operated for over 100 years. It describes the Irish experience in comparative perspective. Ireland was not unique in confronting abusive regimes in institutions where children were maintained by state, religious and other philanthropic bodies for their protection, reclamation and rescue. The chapter presents some methodological difficulties associated with understanding and interpreting past practices in such institutions, and with the use of commissions or committees of inquiry, which aim to serve both investigative and therapeutic functions. All of the institutions cited in The Magdalene Sisters of the alliance between Catholic Church and Irish state operated across Europe and North America; thus they were not unique to Ireland, as is sometimes intimated.
The bank guarantee and Ireland’s financialised neo-liberal growth model
This chapter looks at how the bank guarantee epitomises the Irish case of the perverse legacy of the crisis and the contradictory path of neo-liberalism. The factors such as greed, excessive risk-taking and regulatory policy failures played a role in the Irish crisis. The chapter presents these factors both as symptoms of the deeper dynamics of a financialised neo-liberal growth model and as expressions of how neo-liberal practices and discourses have mutated in the crisis by remaining dominant despite their incongruities. The Irish case of debt displacement and repayment belongs to a broader set of responses in which enormous transfers of wealth are occurring under austerity, as state efforts to manage the crisis in market-friendly ways result in 'wealthfare'. Ireland's first encounter with financialisation occurred through the establishment of the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
In the Republic of Ireland, the 'moment' of the 'social problem' labelled 'anti-social behaviour' arrived when Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) were included in the Criminal Justice Act (2006). This chapter addresses four complex and connected questions. First, in relation to the 'policy transfer' dimension, how helpful are the contributions of D. P. Dolowitz, P. Bourdieu and L. Wacqaunt in helping us understand the introduction of ASBOs? Second, what has been the impact of 'made in America' approaches to crime and 'disorder', such as 'zero tolerance policing' (ZTP) and fixing 'broken windows', on Irish and other European approaches? Third, what are the ways by which primary political definers of 'anti-social behaviour', in Ireland, have sought to construct this particular 'social problem'? Finally, what is the link between the Irish interest in combating 'anti-social behaviour' and pervasive transformations in responding to crime and 'disorder' within the European Union?.
This chapter describes the idea that Dundrum Town Centre embodied a new set of urban conditions, which were expressed widely and with dramatic effects throughout Ireland during the time known as the 'Celtic Tiger'. In contrast to the general type of shopping mall built in Ireland in the two decades before Dundrum's construction, Dundrum is a dense, confined structure, almost a kilometre long. Dundrum Town Centre was produced through the assemblage of elements and processes driving the production of contemporary urban space. In the experience economy, architecture and design have become a foundational part of place-making and urban branding strategies. At Dundrum, in line with retail-led regeneration strategies found internationally, place-making is expressed through design, marketing, advertising and promotional and cultural events. In redesignating Dundrum, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council understood the scale of the change, and that any new development would rapidly improve its capacity to raise local business taxes.