In my first post in since July I chose to take a “compare and contrast” look at the recent party leader speeches of two of the most important (and long standing) political leaders on these two islands: Scotland’s First Minister and SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon MSP and An Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader, Micheal Martin, T.D.
This is my first written political blogpost in several months. I certainly cannot blame the absence of political news or activity for the lengthy absence. If anything, the speed, and frequency of developments made writing new blogs impractical, as no sooner had I written some piece of considered political analysis than events had overtaken it.
There were other contributory facts, including a fairly mild dose of Covid that was followed by about two months of relatively minor breathing issues that still sapped my energy levels.
I did post a slightly hurried Mooney on Politics Podcast on the difficulties with the Fianna Fáil/SDLP partnership while I was in Brussels, but this is my first-time putting words on screen since July.
The temptation, therefore, is to review what has happened since, but I have resisted that temptation and chosen to: (a) return to a frequent theme, the leadership of Micheal Martin and (b) look at this through the lens of comparison.
The idea for this comparison suggested itself by the coincidence of both Fianna Fáil and the SNP having their first posy pandemic, in-person party conferences within a few days of each other.
This is a short (and very non-political) piece by me about the continuing criticism of MS PowerPoint as a business presentation tool. It appeared in the BEERG Global Newsletter of Sept 9th 2021
Derek Mooney writes: Over the years BEERG has seen very many PowerPoint presentations, not to mention the hundreds it has given, so it was most interested to read this article criticising PowerPoint as a business tool.
The article, which appeared on INC.com at the beginning of August, was itself based on a Harvard study from back in 2017, though it also cites research from as far back as 2007. This rang a bell, as a communications consultant in both the political and business fields I have been reading criticisms of PowerPoint as a presentation tool for over a decade and a half, yet BEERG has been using it at various face-to-face and online meetings and at training programs without any negative feedback.
It occurs to me that the issue is not with PowerPoint itself, but with how some of us use it. Looking back at thousands of presentations that have appeared at various BEERG meetings, it is true that there have been a few horrendous ones, including one deck that contained over 150 slides for a 20-minute slot, plus assorted other decks that either contained slides with text the size of the font you are now reading or were so full of complex and busy charts as to be indecipherable.
Welcome to my fourth annual summer political reading list. This year’s list first appeared on Broadsheet.ie on August 10th 2020. It is somewhat later than planned as I have not been able to plan my own summer break until now.
With my previous lists I tried, where possible, to pick books you can download onto your tablet or eBook reader. Who wants to stick 6 or 7 heavy tomes into the suitcase and pay Euros to Willy Walsh or Michael O’Leary for the privilege of flying them with you? So, while this is not as big a concern this year, many of the titles I have picked are, happily, available to download, indeed at least one is available for free download.
As in past years the titles are factual. The list reflects my own tastes and prejudices – though I do genuinely attempt to include some books that challenge them.
The list is in no order, though it does start with books prompted by the sad death of one of the greatest men I have ever been honoured to meet and hear speak: John Hume. Feel free to disagree with any of my choices in the comments section below (as if some of you need a license to disagree with me!) but if you are going to disagree then suggest what books you’d include instead.
John Hume, In his own words Edited by Seán Farren
John Hume, Irish peacemaker Edited by Seán Farren & Denis Haughey
My first entry offers you a choice of two books on the one subject: John Hume.
In the first one: “In His Own Words”Hume’s great ally and colleague, Sean Farren, gathers extracts from some of Hume’s most significant speeches, articles, and interviews. Together they give a comprehensive overview of Hume’s political thoughts on the complexity of relationships within and between our two islands. You see, in Hume’s own words, the origins of his implacable opposition to violence and how he developed his proposals for resolving the Northern Irish conflict. Proposals that underpin the Good Friday Agreement.
If you are thinking of taking a few political books away with you as you wind down in August, then the list below may be of help.
As with last year’s list, the books here appear in no particular order. These are the books that caught my attention over the past few months, including some from the second half of 2017 and one that I wanted to like, but couldn’t.
As this list broadly reflects my personal biases, feel free to offer your own suggestions in the comments section below. Enjoy the Summer and see you back here towards the end of August.
A timely read, this book by High Court judge and former Irish Labour Party Sp/Ad, Richard Humphreys examines how the structures and principles that underpin the 1998 Good Friday Agreement could work in a post Brexit, United Ireland.