Kevin Devine

The Dead Republic

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Roddy Doyle, Jonathan Cape, £17.99

In the character of the rebel Henry Smart, born in a Dublin slum in 1901, Roddy Doyle seemed to have invented the perfect vehicle for portraying the struggle for independence and the development of "modern Ireland". Inspired by the techniques of magical realism, Smart was an apparently superhuman protagonist. His battles in the first novel of this trilogy, A Star Called Henry, first with the British and then with his own comrades, shone a brilliant light on a period that in the popular imagination was often peopled by distant saints.

Turmoil in the Catholic church

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Recent months have seen the row over the abuse of children by Catholic priests intensify, with the pope himself directly implicated in the cover-up. Kevin Devine analyses the social role of the Catholic church, and the circumstances which enabled these crimes to continue for so many years

"A scandal crying out to heaven." This is how dissident theologian Hans Küng described the widespread revelations of the physical and sexual abuse of children and adolescents by Catholic priests, nuns and brothers in the US, Germany, Ireland and other countries. That someone who remains a Catholic, despite repeated clashes with the authorities, can portray the situation facing the church like this gives an idea of the scale of the issue.

Greece, Ireland and the eurozone crisis

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Pigs. It's not an insult as such, but that depends on what it's referring to.

In this case it's an acronym coined by "economic analysts" to describe the European countries that have been hardest hit by the recession: Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

Now, I happen to be Irish, but I'm not particularly nationally-minded, so on one level it doesn't bother me all that much. However, when you consider who these "economic analysts" are, and what their role has been in the crisis affecting Greece, it's a different story.

The Lost Revolution

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Brian Hanley and Scott Millar, Penguin, £20

Living in Dublin in the 1980s, I was intrigued to meet people who claimed to be both socialists and "true Republicans", and who denounced the Provisional IRA as "fascists". These people were members of the Workers' Party (WP). In the general election of 1989 they won seven seats, a significant achievement for a "Marxist" party in a country where the left had been marginal for decades. But within three years the WP had split, most of the party's TDs joining the more moderate Irish Labour Party.

The devil's carousel

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The global car industry has been rocked by the recession, thousands of jobs have gone and many thousands more are threatened. Kevin Devine reports on how bosses' attempts to save their profits will affect the workers on the "devil's carousel".

One of the biggest manufacturing casualties of the economic recession has been the car industry. Worldwide vehicle sales are collapsing and car plants are closing or going onto short-time working. In Britain the latest figures, for April, show that new car registrations fell by 24 percent compared with the same period a year ago, while the British vehicle market as a whole is estimated to have shrunk by almost 29 percent in comparison with 2008.

How will the economic crisis affect people's lives?

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The collapse of the subprime mortgage market last year which spread to the global banking system is now biting into the real economy and employment, writes Kevin Devine.

Heaven knows it's hard to be upset about merchant bankers losing their jobs, but the so-called "credit crunch" has now turned into a much more serious crisis of the banking system as a whole. Given the banks' centrality to capitalism's market economy, a serious recession is now very much on the cards. Massive exposure to the tottering pyramid of debt associated with the "subprime" mortgage market and other scams means that the banks have pretty much stopped lending to each other and other businesses.

Paisley

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Ed Moloney, Poolberg Press, £13.99

This book is the one of the best places to start when it comes to an assessment of the role in the Northern Ireland peace process of both Ian Paisley and his former deputy, Peter Robinson - who has just replaced Paisley as first minister.

Ed Moloney is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable commentators on the Troubles. His previous book, A Secret History of the IRA, is probably the best account of how the Provisionals' leaders came to realise that the armed struggle could not win and embarked on a journey that would take them into a power-sharing executive.

What's behind Brown's pay freeze?

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As public sector unions organise to resist Gordon Brown's pay freeze Kevin Devine asks what lies behind the government's obsession that higher wages cause inflation

Gordon Brown was more direct than usual in his response to a parliamentary question on the possibility of negotiations in the postal dispute. But he didn't say he welcomed the prospect of talks. "We must... tackle inflation, and people have to accept settlements that will ensure that inflation is low in the years to come," he said. "All workers should look at pay settlements as a means by which we can conquer inflation."

Fantasy Island

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Larry Elliot and Dan Atkinson, Constable, £7.99

The Guardian's Larry Elliot and former colleague Dan Atkinson have published an assessment of Blair in power. The subtitle Waking up to the Incredible Economic, Political and Social Illusions of the Blair Legacy gives a fair indication that it won't exactly be holiday reading for Cherie and Tony.

The Gerry and Ian roadshow

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Tony Blair hopes the Irish peace process will be seen as one of his greatest achievements.

According to his spin-doctors, the Great Communicator did what no British prime minister had been able to do before him: getting sworn enemies Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley to sit down together and form a devolved government in Northern Ireland.

On the face of it, the deal seems to represent some progress. Few would welcome a return to armed struggle. In that sense at least the political process is a step forward. But there are huge problems with the architecture of the deal, particularly the way in which it enshrines communal divisions.

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