Values – Leadership – Change: Messages from Céifin

ed. Harry Bohan and Brian Callanan

(Veritas, €9.99/£8.49)

During the heady years of the Celtic Tiger, Fr Harry Bohan organised the then well-known Céifin conferences, which ran from 1998-2009. With their emphasis on family and community, they echoed the aspirations of an older generation which had worked to improve Ireland.

This book, edited with social and economic planner Brian Callanan, attempts to provide insights from that decade of lessons which can be applied or learned from these post-boom years.

Made up of extracts from papers presented, the materials are arranged under four broad themes: value-led change, social capital, resourcing people and power and leadership. Given what we read in our daily papers and see on the television, this last section is particularly apposite.

The emphasis is on community, but in a sense community as it was once understood seems now to have evaporated into something more amorphous. There is, as recent protests show, a great deal of anger in the island, but sometimes it seems difficult to channel it.

Certainly our political structures (whose establishment is now being heavily commemorated by the State) are showing signs of strain; they seem unable to respond to national anxieties. But then, having isolated themselves from the people through their privileges, is it any wonder that the rallying cries for patriotic action go unheeded by the political class?

Those who recall reading the reports from the Céifin conferences as they appeared over the years will welcome a reminder of what was said and achieved at them. Harry Bohan’s book should provide many people, caught up in this present situation, with rich food for thought.