The World: The Master of the Tightrope Act

LIKE all Irish politicians, John Lynch has to contend with the ghosts of the past. Unlike many Irish politicians, he neither invokes nor exploits them. "I am not affected by any past bitternesses," he says. At 54, Lynch is a realist whose election five years ago marked the end of the era of charismatic strongmen with revolutionary pasts—William Cosgrave, Eamon de Valera, Sean Lemass. Born the year after the 1916 Easter Rising, he is the Irish Republic's first Prime Minister, or Taoiseach (pronounced Tea-shock), of the post-civil-war generation.

Pragmatic and low-key, Lynch was once...

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