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Read Me: The year’s best opinion pieces from TheJournal.ie

Thought-provoking, moving, controversial: Our pick of the top ten Read Mes from 2011.

Michael Freeman

ALL YEAR, WE’VE been bringing you analysis and comment pieces on a huge range of issues. Sometimes an opinion piece or a personal experience can go places that breaking news can’t.

So we thought it was worth looking back at some of the year’s best Read Mes from TheJournal.ie. Here are our top ten thought-provoking, engaging or simply moving pieces of writing – in no particular order:

1. ‘I wonder how often the horse must stumble before you realise the race is over’
David Kenny writes about clearing out his father’s old house – and losing his job on the same day.

When you sift through a parent’s past, with the power to discard evidence of their existence, you realise how much time you’ve wasted. My father and I wasted most of our time together fighting. We couldn’t help it.

2. I survived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
Tomi Reichental, who now lives in Dublin, recalls being imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen as a  nine-year-old boy.

‘Schnell, schnell!’ The guards began to hurry us inside. It was like a long hall and there was a strong chemical smell that stung the back of my throat. There were many wooden benches and steel trolleys with a long bar on top, where we were told to hang up our coats and clothes.

3. Gary Speed, like others in his position, was scared
Francis Bowden writes about the death of Wales football manager Gary Speed, in the light of his own depression and suicide attempt.

Prior to leaving to make my way back to Dublin, I gave my Mam and Dad a hug and a kiss, told them I loved them and that I’d see them next weekend. They had no clue that a police car would be arriving to the door that night to inform them that I’d been rushed to hospital.

4. I love you, Ireland, but you’re bringing me down
Alice Burke on returning from abroad expecting a fight for justice – only to find indifference.

Since I’ve come home, family and friends have told me of the hardships, the injustice, the fear and pressure that has entered their life. And then they go for dinner. Or watch X Factor. Or go to Penneys and buy a top.

5. ‘The macchiatos certainly came home to roost that day’
Conor McCabe on the sense of entitlement that carried the Irish middle classes through the boom, and into the bust.

How different it appeared in October 2008 when the actual power elites in Ireland pulled up and dumped €85billion of shit over the head of every single Hico, Breakfast Roll, RobboPaddy and New Venetian in the State, before driving away into the distance, laughing their asses off.

6. If we want to get out of this crisis, we must remember who put us here
Hugh Torpey asks: if it was the markets that caused the crash, why are we looking to them to judge our efforts to escape?

If the governments had paid a little more attention to human nature and, y’know, the entire history of mankind, they’d know that greed will always trump rational thought in the short term. Put ten traders into a house made of money and they’ll tear down the walls and collapse the roof above their heads until the driving rain outside comes in.

7. Homeopathy isn’t just useless – in the wrong hands it’s dangerous
David Robert Grimes argues that homeopathy is based on a ludicrous fiction, and we endanger ourselves by trusting it.

An often-repeated claim is that homeopathy is ‘natural’ and thus ‘safer’ than conventional medication. This is a fallacy. Uranium, radium and plutonium are also natural but this does not mean adding them to one’s breakfast cereal is advisable.

8. Why I reported Darren Scully for inciting hatred – and why I’m not backing down
Aodhán Ó Riordáin TD writes about why we need an intelligent approach to immigration, and why Darren Scully’s was anything but.

What Darren Scully was trying to do was get cheap political gain by picking on ethnic minorities who have no access to the media to respond. People will argue that it is plain speaking but it’s dangerous, it’s not enlightened and it’s not compassionate.

9. I’m a businessman. Here’s why I joined Occupy Dame Street
David Johnson writes about getting involved in the Occupy protests as a man at “the wrong end of my thirties”.

I want you to understand that I am no practitioner of class warfare, I do not see things in terms of workers and bosses, I am no dreadlocked New Ageist or juggling trustafarian, and, as I believe I have mentioned before, I detest drumming circles.

10. I work in a bank – and you’ve got us all wrong
Patrick Ryan on the experience of being an ordinary bank worker through the financial crisis.

There is a whole other world – a parallel universe – that exists side by side to yours and mine, wherein the bankers roam. It is populated by quiet leafy tree-lined avenues, expensive cars (often chauffeur driven), expensive lunches, private elevators, private clubs, private dinners and private parties.

The year 2011 in review: Full coverage from TheJournal.ie>

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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