March 2021

Teething Pains Over the Northern Ireland Protocol’s Implementation

Anger has grown among unionists in Northern Ireland over the UK’s exit from the European Union and the withdrawal agreement which came into effect this year. More specifically, concerns have grown over the Northern Ireland Protocol and its effects on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. There have been reports of food shortages and disruption, and inspectors in Northern Irish ports have been subject to intimidation and threats of violence from loyalists who are fiercely opposed to the changes.

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The Competion for Africa between China and France

In the 21st century, Africa has seen exponential growth in its economy. People are moving from rural areas to cities in search of work and the cities are growing at an incredible pace. The future is incredibly bright and looks as if it will be prosperous for the continent. However, there are outside elements spotting the opportunity that is developing. 

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An Ghaeilge - i mbaol

This week marks the beginning of Seachtain na Gaeilge. Although literally translated it means "Irish Week," Seachtain na Gaeilge is a period of 17 days where the people of Ireland celebrate their native language. From schools, and universities to the government, Seachtain na Gaeilge allows its citizens to fully embrace their language. Despite concerns over the decreasing levels of Irish, there are many things to be proud of including Irish becoming an official working language of the European Union. In this article, we examine the Irish language, and why weeks like Seachtain na Gaeilge are important in preserving our native tongue

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Are Value Stocks Waking Up from Hibernation?

In capital markets, most investors used to subscribe to one of two of the main doctrines, value or growth investing. Growth investors seek strong earnings growth often investing in stocks within a 10-year range of their IPO (a prudent estimate). Usually, the investors will value these companies using a projection of earnings by some multiple (or a similar metric to the same effect). Value investing hinges on finding “bargains.” Comparing price to earnings (or once again a similar metric), investors look for companies who have been undervalued by the market.

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Human After All – The Story of Daft Punk

Bricolage is the art of creation from scraps, junk, or diverse materials of what is available. This style of composition was core to the musical android duo, Daft Punk. Their musical use of drum machines, synths, samples of 70s and 80s funk and disco bangers helped define their own unique sound.

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February 2021

Can the Left Form a Government in Ireland?

The support for the government among the public has fallen in recent polls, with Fianna Fáil struggling to rise above the mid-teens. Leo Varadkar’s approval rating has also come crashing down in the most recent poll, with his rating down 13% since October 2020.

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Chinese Authorities place pressure on Jack Ma's Ant Group

Ant Group is China’s premier FinTech (Financial Technology) company. The company operates China’s largest digital payment platform, the AliPay app, similar to Venmo in the US, or Revolut in Europe, but also offers online loans which they provide in partnership with traditional banks. The app is by far the largest of its kind in the world, servicing 700 million monthly users.

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Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

With her term set to begin on the first of March, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is about to become both the first woman and the first African to become Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. While the role has little direct effect on policy–the role is largely that of an administrator and consultant–the appointment marks an important landmark for an extremely relevant international body. Her term will extend until the 31st of August, 2025, with the option of renewal. Her combination of technocratic skills and political instincts may prove a winning combination for leading an organisation for whom cooperation is a faint memory. 

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‘It’s a Sin’ and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in 2021

‘It’s A Sin’ landed on screens on the 22nd of January and wrapped up on the 19th February on Channel 4. The series follows a group of teenagers in London, throughout the 1980s into the early 1990s. These young people come from different backgrounds, with very different families and have very different aspirations for their futures.

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The Struggle for Free Speech in Spain

Last week, Spanish rapper Pablo Hasél was sentenced to nine months in prison after being convicted of “glorifying violence” and insulting Spanish royalty over past Tweets and through content in his lyrics. This has sparked days of unrest across the country which, at the time of publication, are still ongoing. Activists have condemned the rappers’ conviction and sentence as an attack on freedom of expression.

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The Future of Spaceflight, Exploration and Expansion

In the waning years of the Cold War and after there has been a marked lull in spaceflight and manned human missions to the great abyss, however 2020, although plagued by disaster, brought us a noticeable achievement in the department of outer-planetary travel: the very first private company, SpaceX, sent a man into orbit. This has heralded speculation in the future of a potential extra-terrestrial industry wherein private and public companies, not governments, will lead the way in furthering humanity’s insatiable desire for progress and scientific advancement.

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The Wonder of Radioactivity

Radioactivity has been responsible for some of the biggest disasters in our History. The atomic bomb of New Mexico in July 16th 1945, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th of 1945, the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, to name a few.

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Lone Star Storm: Texas Snow Disaster

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has raised over $5 million dollars in relief for Texas. This was in response to the snow storm last weekend that left the state without power and frozen. Ocasio-Cortez was in Texas on Saturday along with Democratic representatives from Texas to volunteer at a local food bank. Speaking to reporters about the fundraising Ocasio-Cortez had a very Obama DNC 2004 moment saying; "That's the New York spirit, that's the Texas spirit, and that's the American spirit."

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Facebook Blocks Australia

The News Media Bargaining Code of July of 2020 under the Treasury Laws Amendment covers news media and the digital platforms they share content and garner traffic on. On Thursday 18th February, Facebook blocked news sites from sharing and viewing news links across the platform for Australian users. Using their machine learning system led to classification errors with charities and government pages regarding COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, other emergency services were blocked from sharing information.

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How Long can Ethiopia’s Political Prisoners Survive?

Abiy Ahmed and Jawar Mohammed are two of the largest political figures in Ethiopia, yet one stands in the Ethiopian parliament, and the other, in a prison cell. The two men were not always so distant. They worked together during the Oromo protests in 2018 that helped bring Mr. Ahmed to power, but since then they have drifted politically, with Mr. Ahmed leading the government with the Prosperity Party, and Mr. Mohammed splitting off with the Oromo Federalist Party. Their differences were cemented when Mr. Mohammed was charged with terrorism, among other offences, along with 23 other opponents of the Ahmed-led government, in September 2020.

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The Multi-Million Dollar Bash

I want you to imagine something. You are at the latter end of a long-distinguished career as a world famous iconic musician, you have written and sold multitudes of seminal albums and performed in front of millions of fans over the years. The Covid-19 pandemic hits and ruins any hope of touring on a new album or once off concerts. Through all that what should one do? Cash in obviously, and cash in big!

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GAA Club Hopes to Break Down Sectarian Borders

As we reflect on 2020, it was the 100 year anniversary of Bloody Sunday when Croke Park hosted the Dublin and Tipperary football teams for a great challenge match. Spectators filled the grounds, completely unaware that the RIC were mobilising, intent on carrying out an act of deadly retribution for the earlier assassinations of British intelligence agents by Michael Collins’ “Squad”, which then helped nationalism grow within the GAA, and may have alienated the unionist community from its games.

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Draghi’s Government: A Sign of Hope or of Harder Times?

Mario Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank, has just been sworn in as Prime Minister of Italy after the collapse of the previous coalition government led by Giuseppe Conte. While he has enormous experience in public life and has assembled a team of experts in his cabinet, Draghi nevertheless faces a mammoth task in bringing Italy back from the economic havoc unleashed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Behind the Olympic Controversy - Resignations and Sexism

Last Friday Yoshiro Mori resigned from his role as Head of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.This resignation came after he came under pressure due to comments he made suggesting the women talk too much. His comments caused a wave to backlash across Japan and around the world. His resignation brings more uncertainty to the already delayed Summer Olympic Games.When Tokyo was announced as the Olympic city for 2021 Japan experienced a rise in national pride. The country had not hosted the games since 1964 and the opportunity brought a much needed boost in patriotism and jobs.

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The Dangers of Your Shampoo

Picking a shampoo can quite literally be a life changing decision. The specific absorption rate of head tissues is higher than that of the skin in another part of the body. Scientists now have proof that an ingredient found in shampoo and other products can affect brain development in mice. 

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Alexei Navalny and Russia's Protests

On the 17th of January 2021, Russia’s most notorious opposition leader, Alexei Navalny was arrested on his return to Russia following a five-month stint in the intensive care unit of a Berlin hospital following a suspected assassination attempt. 

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Brexit’s Implications for EU-UK Sanctions Cooperation

Diplomatic impacts - Brexit will impose several challenges on the EU’s diplomatic voice in international affairs. For instance, both parties cooperate heavily on sanctions, which is an effective foreign policy tool that offers sufficient balance between political dialogue and military deployment. The UK currently has 40 sanctions regimes in place across the UN and the EU. They have been a significant player for crafting the EU’s foreign policy toolbox, where numerous studies have shown that up to 80% of EU sanctions have been proposed and initiated by the UK.

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FINMA Reprimands Two Former Julius Baer Executives

Switzerland is notorious for its banking system, not just for the excellence and accuracy that banks pledge to their customers but also for the anonymity they provide to them. In 1934, The Swiss Banking Law made it a criminal offence for Swiss banks to disclose the name of account holders. The protections and liberties provided by this financial veil has led to many unethical clients seeking refuge with large Swiss banks.

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To Vote or not to Vote: Socrates & Intellectual Democracy

In 399 BC, Greek philosopher Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and the citizens of Athens voted to sentence him to death by hemlock poisoning. In an ironic twist, Socrates refused and offer of help to escape Athens. Whether this was his own criticism of the uninformed masses making decisions, or respecting and standing by his values, the take-away from the vote on his death is that majority opinion does not equal truth.

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Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens: Problems Remain for Historic Coalition

The current government has already had to overcome many contentious issues in its short lifespan, striving to maintain stability. With more challenges on the horizon and ongoing within the government, we must ask if this stability will hold. The controversy surrounding CETA and rumours that Green Party TDs may leave the party has raised eyebrows recently, and fierce opposition to CETA has forced the government to push the Bill to an Oireachtas Committee for review. Pairing this with battles with unions over the reopening of schools and recent issues with thousands travelling abroad for non-essential reasons means the government may be facing a rocky couple of months.

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Why has Saudi Arabia cut oil production?

The news that Saudi Arabia would cut oil production by 1 million buckets per day (m b/d) from 9.1 million came as a welcome surprise to many, none more so than Russian energy minister Alexander Novak. The shock announcement came at an OPEC+ (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) convention in early January 2021, and we are only now beginning to see its impact on the future market. 

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The 21st Century will Belong to Asia

Covid-19 will belong in history as one of the most seminal events to shock the world. Like WWII and the fall of the Berlin wall they had a monumental effect on the world in the 20th century. The Covid-19 pandemic is the third major shock in the 21st century that followed the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 financial crisis.

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GAFAM's lust for AI patents

The GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) have created an empire, within the European Market, through patents. Their data collection and processing power are the cause of their success. Though, the expertise and funding of such companies does not completely explain why they succeeded where European companies didn’t. What they came up with could have been replicated, but it didn’t, and that’s because of patents. 

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Yemeni Civil War: A Chance for Peace After Biden’s Intervention?

War has raged in Yemen since 2014, and with particular intensity since the involvement of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. With the new US administration withdrawing the country’s blank cheque support of the Saudi and Emirati bombing campaigns, there may be scope for a negotiated end to the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet today.

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CETA Explained

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has become a problem for the government in recent weeks. With the Dail vote delayed in December to allow for further debate due to the opposition posed by several Green Party TD’s. Since this delay this trade agreement between the EU and Canada has created a storm of opposition, in the form of TD’s resignations, social media campaigns and of course songs. This deal is detailed and complex with the policy document spanning up to thirty chapters but what does CETA really mean?

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Millions Missing as German Hacker Tried

Two years ago, a German man was arrested, charged and convicted on fraud related offences for which he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. What he had done was deceive and conjure people into giving him access to their PC’s while he installed Bitcoin mining software on them which were sent to a virtual wallet to only which he had control. 

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The Economics of Depop and DIY Sustainability

Depop is a peer-to-peer platform which is unique in that 90% of its user-base is under the age of 26. One economic benefit of software like Depop is that it is a form of accessible self-employment. Add to this the new value system for younger people who view the meaning and purpose of ownership differently to previous generations.

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Eurovision Politics: More Than a Competition

The Eurovision Song Contest, initially founded in the 1950s to unify a broken and divided Europe after the Second World War, is now the biggest music contest globally. It is also where geopolitics is on constant display. People often joke about the competition’s voting sequence, noting that some countries are doomed to fail due to neighbouring countries tending to vote for each other. However, there may be some weight to this claim.

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Unlikely allies, Unlikely Governments, The Makings of Coalitions

The past year has been one of the most unprecedented and trying times for Ireland and the world, with the new year looking much the same, depressing and uncomfortably long. Nobody can say, that when they went into the voting booths on the 8th of February last year, that they partially or fully based their voting preference on who they thought would best fight a global pandemic. In most instances, at the time of the election the only whisper of Covid-19 was a short headline on the media about a strange virus identified in Wuhan. 

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Covid-19 and the future of Artificial Intelligence.

Despite all the negative consequences of the global pandemic, it has opened new markets for the robotics industry. Firms that deal in robotics are supplying robots to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. These robots supply basic items to people in isolation and detect people who are not wearing masks. Among the firms that plan to use the pandemic as an opportunity for growth is Hanson Robotics which is based in Hong Kong. 

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