Sunday Long Reads: What's the fuss over Iowa, David Bowie's legacy and will Fine Gael use Finance to blood a new leader?

Kick back with a cup of coffee and catch up on the best of from this week.

Enda Kenny, Leo Varadkar, Michael Noonan,

Fine Gael Party Leader Enda Kenny TD, centre, and Finance Spokesperson Michael Noonan TD, left, and Leo Varadkar Photo /

2016 sees the US Presidential election and the General Election here at home both moving up a gear, and we take a look at both of them in this week's long reads. 

There are also a touching tribute to the late David Bowie from Tom Dunne, why are analysts predicting another crash in 2016, and the story of a football team that was posed to take over the world until war interrupted...

"Bowie's Starman arrived in our little homes via Top of the Pops, and it was the news we had all wanted"

Waking up to the news of the passing of David Bowie on a January morning was a shock to many, including Tom Dunne, who paid a touching tribute to his lifelong hero, who passed away aged 69: 

I did suspect something when I heard that lyric on the new album: “And If I never see England’s evergreen, I’m running to. It’s nothing to me. There’s nothing to see.” Was Bowie countenancing never seeing old Blighty again? And was he accepting that fact? Contemplating the end? I wondered. I hoped not.

I found myself strangely moved though. There was a little tear. Imagine a world without Bowie? Imagine my world without Bowie? I simply couldn’t. I tweeted, jokingly that I loved three things: my wife, my children and David Bowie, but not necessarily in that order. I was joking of course, but still…

Will Kenny cut Noonan free and use Finance to blood a new leader?

Vincent Wall turns his attention to the upcoming general election, as he states that watching Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin perform their 'Chuckle Brothers' routine at the recent publication of the 2015 Exchequer Returns set me thinking about whether either would find himself holding the same portfolios following the election.

While the public expression of professional and fraternal affection grated a little with the watching cohort of grizzled hacks, it’s hard to argue that the duo’s strong personal and working relationship did prove beneficial during the tough austerity period from 2011 to 2014. But should we expect to see them don the same mantles from March onwards, even if Fine Gael and Labour find themselves in the next government?

Why does the Iowa caucus matter so much?

For a number of months now, the polls in Iowa have been making headlines as Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio jostle for position.

Every few days, a new poll comes out declaring that one or the other is on top in Iowa, and that it could be a significant step along the road to the White House for whoever does eventually win at the caucus, which takes place at the start of February.

After months of build up, the caucus itself is finally on the horizon, but do they really matter that much?


Why are analysts predicting a global financial crash in 2016?

In the last few days, experts from two major international financial institutions have warned that there is a real threat that the global economy will experience a fresh crash during 2016.

RBS bank’s Head of Credit, Andrew Roberts, raised eyebrows on Tuesday when he advised institutional clients to brace for a "cataclysmic year" and to sell everything except high-quality bonds, so what's coming down the line this year, and should we be worried?

The making and breaking of the greatest international side never to be

When a war begins in a land, sport can never remain immune from the fires that rage around it. The Balkan War of the 1990s was no different and one incident sums it up more than any other.

The second week of May 1990 was no ordinary week in Croatia. Just a few days earlier, the budding nation's parliament had voted in parties that aimed to break away from Yugoslavia.

Into that tinder box, Serbia's most successful football club Red Star Belgrade would arrive in Croatia's capital Zagreb. The tensions which had already spilled over pre-match exploded into riotous scenes in the Maksimir Stadium with police losing all control of the situation.

In the melee a Bosnian policeman was involved in an altercation with a Dinamo fan, when a symbolic moment in the Croatian independence struggle occurred. Dinamo captain Zvonimir Boban's boot (with his foot still in it) crashed into the policeman, earning him a lengthy ban from the Yugoslav FA but in turn propelling him to Croatian national hero status.