Sunday Long Reads: Ireland has a race problem, the alt-right explained, MMA's historical roots & who are Fathers 4 Justice?

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

This week, Michelle Marie, the curator of the @ireland Twitter account, was subjected to a host of bigoted abuse. Why? Because Ireland has a race problem - as well as a double standard when it comes to highlighting that fact.

The attacks on Michelle Marie came just days after one of Ireland’s chief proponents of racial stereotypes and epithets was heralded as a legend. That man is Conor McGregor.  

McGregor has long earned his keep by being as outspoken and controversial as possible. He’s pretty good at it.

We should demand better from Conor McGregor than lazy stereotypes


UFC 197: Conor McGregor vs. Rafael dos Anjos Staredown

What exactly is the alt-right?

In a speech this week, Hillary Clinton brought more mainstream attention to a group that has become known as the alternative or "alt" right.

During her most strongly-worded attack on Donald Trump to date, she argued the Republican candidate has helped make "hate groups mainstream".

"The names may have changed. Racists now call themselves 'racialists'. White supremacists now call themselves 'white nationalists'. The paranoid fringe now calls itself 'alt-right'. But the hate burns just as bright." 

Hilary Clinton

Previously a description best known to those who keep track of the seemingly endless culture wars waged on Twitter, the 'alt-right' has certainly gained visibility in the lead-up to November's presidential election in the US.

Who are Fathers 4 Justice, the group behind the Rose of Tralee stage invasion?

This week's Rose of Tralee show had its fair share of controversy. From the Sydney Rose speaking openly about her wish to see Ireland repeal the eighth amendment to the stage being invaded by a man dressed in a priest costume.

The protester in question was Matt O'Connor, the London-based founder of the Fathers 4 Justice group, who had bought a ticket to the event. 

Speaking to Newstalk Lunchtime, Mr O'Connor pledged that it would be the "first of many" Irish demonstrations by the controversial group.

So who exactly are they, and what are they protesting against?

Matt O'Connor, the London-based founder of the Fathers 4 Justice group

Fathers 4 Justice (F4J) was founded in 2001 by Mr O'Connor, who says he was denied access to his two boys following a difficult divorce.

While his own case was resolved in courts, the organisation says the wider campaign was "born out of his love for his children, and his fear that one day they might suffer the same injustice as him – what he called a 'living bereavement' – when they became fathers".

The main goal of the group has been campaigning for equal rights for fathers and reforms for Britain’s family justice system.

How Muhammad Ali helped to shape Mixed Martial Arts as we know it today

Unbeknownst to some, mixed martial arts (MMA) hasn't always been the global event that is has become today. Thanks to the savvy marketing done by Dana White and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the UFC is now one of the most recognizable fighting promotions in the world.

The explosion in popularity of MMA over the past five years around the world has seen the value of the company jump from $2m to $4bn after it was sold earlier this summer.

Mohammad Ali

However, MMA has its roots much deeper than many expect and intertwine with historical figures in combat sport. Muhammad Ali is perhaps the highest profile name that surfaces when you cast your eye back over the history of the sport.

'Out-of-control' pine martens blamed for killing livestock on Irish farms

“Out-of-control” pine martens have been blamed for killing livestock and scavenging through bins in the midlands.

The animal – which is related to the Irish stoat, otter and badger – has seen its population gradually recover in Ireland after facing near extinction in the 20th century.

File photo: Wikimedia Commons

Fine Gael councillor Paraic Brady from Longford said action was now needed to prevent pine martins from injuring and killing sheep and lambs.

He told Newstalk Lunchtime that the species had created a significant financial burden for farmers in the region and should be "put back into normal figures". 

“I have no problem with the pine marten... But when something is out of control and doing damage, I think somebody has to stand up and be counted,” he said.