Sunday Long Reads: Stuart Clarke on Euro ’96; Drink Tea for MND; and did NAMA work?

Kick back with a cup of coffee and enjoy the best long reads from

In this week's long reads, our business editor Vincent Wall asks if NAMA worked? Craig Fitzpatrick looks at Michael Noonan's Bilderberg trip (and its infamous veil of secrecy). And Kieran Cuddihy finds out how Motor Neurone Disease charities are raising funds following the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014. 

Then for the weekend that's in it, Hot Press scribe Stuart Clark shares some of his memories from Euro '96, while France-based writer and commentator Matt Spiro writes on the optimism around the French team.

Kick back with a coffee and enjoy some of the best content from this week.

Did NAMA work?

Yes, there may have been a more subtle, less blunt instrument for dealing with the property and insolvency fall-outs of, proportionately, one of the most severe banking crises in world history, if the State had had more time and resources to think things through.

Yes, given the speed at which it was established and the relatively small size of the recruitment pool, it had to rely to a large degree on financial and property professionals many of whom had participated in the lending frenzy prior to the crash and some of whom have returned to lucrative private sector positions in both industries.

Michael Noonan's Bilderberg trip and its infamous veil of secrecy

While the five-star Hotel Taschenbergpalais in Dresden prides itself on being a pet-friendly establishment, its policy on welcoming six-foot lizards is not known.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan

The reptilian shape-shifting certain, shall we say out there conspiracy theorists will be expecting to be going on in the German city over the next four days is more than a little far-fetched, but then the Bilderberg conference's shadowy stance is nothing if not fuel for the imagination.

"In 43 years, Gazza's goal and the mass dentist’s chair celebration is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen"

Euro ’96; Baddiel & Skinner and the Lightning Seeds were singing about football coming home, Gazza was pound for pound (and he weighed quite a few of ‘em!) the best midfielder in the world and long-suffering England fans like myself really did think that after 30-years there might be something to stick in the perennially empty FA trophy cabinet.

Picture by: Neil Munns / PA Wire/Press Association Images

No matter that we had the Del Boy-ish Terry Venables as coach and other players of such dubious quality as Steve Stone, Nick Barmby and Steve Howey in the squad, Johnny Foreigner was going to be sent back from whence he came, tail firmly between legs.

After the Ice Bucket Challenge: How Motor Neurone Disease charities are raising funds

In June two years ago, a fundraising initiative started in the United States that went on to grab the attention of almost the entire world.

In the 'Ice Bucket Challenge', people were encouraged to pour a bucket of ice cold water over their head and donate money to Motor Neurone Disease charities.

Ultimately, hundreds of millions of euro was raised for the charities.

Matt Spiro: Why the France team have become a beacon of hope at an awkward time

For France, the Euros are coming at an awkward time. Social unrest sparked by controversial labour reforms is escalating, the fear of terrorist attacks continues to weigh heavily on the public consciousness, and an improbable blackmailing scandal has cost Les Bleus the services of their best player.

Set against such a backdrop, you might think the French are dreading this summer’s tournament. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.