June 28, 2013

Fintan O'Toole on Ireland's dark history


The esteemed Irish journalist and author, Fintan O'Toole wrote in Up the Republic!: Towards a New Republic:
"For most of its history, the state failed miserably in the basic task of ensuring that citizens were free from subjection to the arbitrary will of others. It allowed the institutional Catholic Church (as opposed to Catholics themselves) to exercise unaccountable and secretive powers in key areas of public and private lives of citizens, from access to contraception to basic public services such as healthcare and education. The state also actively colluded in grotesque systems of arbitrary  power; such as industrial schools, Magdalene Homes and mental hospitals - incarcerating without trial a higher proportion of its citizens than the Soviet Union did.  
More recently, the state itself has been dominated by private interests. Corruption allowed wealthy citizens to purchase public policy, to the detriment of the majority of their fellow citizens. The skewing of the planning process for the capital city over two decades is just one example. And even when corruption was not at play, specific interest groups - banks being an obvious example - acquired a position of complete (and in the event, disastrous) dominance over key areas of public policy."
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