Welcome to my website!
Here, you will find details of my Career and Life, Books, and Media & Public Appearances. I also make available a collection of my journalistic writings. Just below, you will find a new Moral Matters Column (uploaded each Friday) and a selection of my Saturday Essays from the Irish Daily Mail. At the bottom of this page, I have selected a quote from my writings in the hope that it will help you kick off your day on a contemplative, thought-provoking, but always life-affirming note.
September 20, 2017
What we can all learn from the good thief
There are many beautiful stories in the Christian scriptures, but there is one that stands out for me. I was only a small child when I first heard the account of the ‘good thief’ who died beside Christ. It touched me then and it still moves me now. As his fellow thief mocks Christ from the cross, the good thief defends him by saying that, while they deserve their punishment, the young Nazarene does not. Then, he asks that he not be forgotten when the saviour comes into his kingdom. Christ turns, perhaps even smiles, and promises the thief nothing less than paradise. What a beautiful thing it is for one dying man to offer the other a gift of peace. A scene of horror is suddenly transfigured by a gesture of healing love. The good thief falls silent and dies redeemed. That everyone knows who the ‘good thief’ is means he is not a minor historical figure. In defending Christ unto death, he has been immortalised down the ages. He proves that, even in their last agony, people can be saved. For Christians, this unnamed criminal was the first person to enter paradise. It is a beautiful and consoling moment that teaches us much about the quality of mercy and forgiveness. There is, however, another dimension to it that is equally powerful…Read more
July 1, 2017
A dark day for democracy
IN a democracy, trial by jury is an essential guarantor of true freedom. It is a right not enjoyed around the world; it is a right for which, over the years, many have fought – and some have even died. It is a cornerstone both of our judicial process and of our deeper belief that, ultimately, it is the people of this country who are the pillars on which the State was built. And therefore, when a jury of 11 men and women handed down not guilty verdicts on Thursday to six men accused of falsely imprisoning the former tánaiste and her assistant in 2014, I saluted them. They had done their job: they had weighed the evidence presented to them, they had considered the arguments put before them, and they had arrived – unanimously – at an emphatic verdict. The Jobstown Six, as they have styled themselves (doubtless trying to suggest themselves, laughable as it is, as a latter-day Birmingham Six), were found not guilty of the charges they had faced. The system had done precisely what our forebears had intended it to do. Paul Murphy and his acolytes were free to go, without a stain on their characters. But being innocent of this particular crime does not, however, mean they had done nothing wrong…Read more