Irish Examiner view: Let us begin 2023 with a sense of hope

Now it’s time to put away the old diary and start making some dates. In the time-pressed 20s, forward planning can’t start soon enough.

The digital cognoscenti do this on their computers, no doubt synced with timely alerts to their watches and phones.

People stuck in ’80s analog jot down a reminder in their personal organizer. For some of us, a simple wall calendar is enough as a memory jogger.

A lot will happen in 2023 to look forward to, to commemorate, or both. And it has already begun, as many celebrated Ireland’s formal integration into the European Union on January 1, 1973, half a century ago yesterday.

Despite rejecting the Treaty of Nice in 2001 and the Treaty of Lisbon in 2008, most citizens find the republic unrecognizable from the country it was all those years ago.

The economic benefits are great though it is worth remembering that we are now a net contributor to the EU budget and our trade is currently more with North America and the UK than with the continent.

Whether that balance will change in the coming years is an interesting question, but we must remember that our ability to fly the blue flag with the gold stars brings with it benefits as well as responsibilities. With the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, our willingness to shoulder them may be further tested in 2023.

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Two more political dates that resonate for different reasons. Seventy-five years ago this summer on June 26, Russia, under Joseph Stalin, blocked all road, rail and water access to the Allied-controlled areas of Berlin, prompting a bold response from the West to supply the city of 2.5 million people. the wind

In 11 months, 270,000 flights brought in 2.5 million tons of supplies. At one point during the airlift, an aircraft was landing at Tempelhof Airport every 45 seconds.

The Russians have relinquished their grip, but the foundations of the Iron Curtain prophesied by Winston Churchill are in place and Vladimir Putin will dominate Europe for 50 years.
Lawless war is sending daily reminders of how things are now and how they could be again.

February 24 marks the first anniversary of the invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

April 10 will see the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, one example of how determined diplomacy can make a difference.

Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern signed the Good Friday Agreement.  Image: PA
Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern signed the Good Friday Agreement. Image: PA

Something like this is essential to make progress in the current political logjam in the North. One of the unknowns this year is whether there is yet an alignment of enough people of goodwill to resolve the impasse.

Culturally, we get a good idea of ​​what Martin McDonagh’s black comedy about the Western Isles of Ireland is like, Banshees of Inisherin, will hit awards season next week when it competes in eight categories at the Golden Globes. Oscar nominations open two weeks later, and the biggest night in cinema takes place on March 12.

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In early February the US Federal Reserve will make its first interest rate decision in 2023, applying seven hikes in 12 months. The next day, the Bank of England (up nine over the past year) will make a similar choice. What they decide will certainly affect rates in the European Central Bank and the Eurozone.

The EU’s efforts to put some decency on big tech companies will be tested when its Digital Markets Act comes into effect on May 2, backed by competition threats, tougher rules on data privacy and proposed rules for emerging areas such as artificial intelligence. .

Two of the world’s major nations celebrate their founding anniversaries this year, both born out of world wars and both very different. On May 14, Israel was founded 75 years ago, and on October 29, Turkey celebrates its centenary, overcoming the Ottoman Empire.

November marks a sad date. The 22nd was the 60th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, one of those watershed “I remember where I was” moments that crushed optimism in the modern world.

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November 22 is the 60th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.  Image: Jim Altgens/AP
November 22 is the 60th anniversary of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Image: Jim Altgens/AP

The EU’s €7 visa-waiver form, required to enter its passport-free zone, will also be introduced at the end of November. The European Travel Information and Authorization System applies to non-EU citizens from 60 countries.

March 23 marks the 175th anniversary of Thomas F Meagher’s hoisting of the tricolor in Waterford on March 7, 1848, and we can expect to see a large crowd of in-form Ireland at the major sporting tournament of the year. The formidable international contemporaries at the Rugby World Cup in France between September 8 and October 28.

March 14 to 17 will also see the annual Irish exodus to Cheltenham, where many eyes will be on the Champions Hurdle to see if Constitution Hill can join the parade of all-time greats with an opening-day win.

The Irish women’s soccer team will make history with their World Cup debut in July, with hosts Australia, Canada and Nigeria as group opponents. Along with the GAA showpiece, supporting the girls in green will be the sporting event of the summer.

In a year meant to be taken too seriously, our collective sanity depends on such diversions. Let’s look forward to 2023 with hope.

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