The Iona Blog

Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.


Euthanasia: so much for the guarantees

By Frederik Bosch on 7th April 2014. ~ Categories: Other

Our wise ideologues are never short on assurances that every last one of their society-changing initiatives are brimming with “guarantees” and “safeguards.” The obvious one is abortion. In 1996, Bill Clinton said “abortion should not only be safe and legal, it should be rare.” In New York in 2012, more African-American babies were aborted than were born. Ah – the Ratchet Effect upon morality. Euthanasia is a more recent controversy. Under the guise of individual choice for the sick, and compassion from the healthy, lobbyists have fought hard to get euthanasia on the statute books. Again, “guarantees,” “safeguards,” “safe,” “rare” – we’ve heard these promises before.


What does Frances Fitzgerald think of egg and sperm donation?

By Ben Conroy on 4th April 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald's recent proposal to give adopted people greater access to information about their biological parents is a genuinely good idea. If they don't run afoul of the constitutional right to privacy, Minister Fitzgerald's proposals could end up helping many adoptees to trace their roots and discover their origins. So I'm curious as to why the same government currently advocating common-sense reforms like these, which acknowledge the importance of the natural ties, is simultaneously planning to pass a family law bill that almost completely ignores them?


David Quinn takes part in childcare debate on Today with Sean O’Rourke

By Ben Conroy on 2nd April 2014. ~ Categories:

David Quinn was on the Sean O'Rourke programme yesterday discussing childcare with Roisin O’Hara, who juggles work with having four small children; Evanna Boyle, also a mum of four who gave up work as a solicitor to mind her kids at home; Independent Senator Jillian Van Turnhout and Theresa Heaney, Chairperson of the Mothers’ Alliance Ireland. They discussed parental leave, child benefit, and whether the state should be picking sides in favouring working mothers over those who choose to stay at home.


Gay marriage: the fastest formed orthodoxy ever?

By David Quinn on 1st April 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The first same-sex marriages took place in the UK over the weekend. Brendan O'Neill, the editor of the online magazine, Spiked, has an article today asking a very pertinent question: how did support for gay marriage become the conventional wisdom so quickly? It hasn't been all that long since same-sex marriage was barely thought of or proposed by anyone, (it was even a minority position among LGBT activists). But now it has become an absolute article of faith for anyone who wants to be called a ‘liberal’.


A deeper look at the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case

By Ben Conroy on 28th March 2014. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

There's a great guest post over at the Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy blog from Prof. Michael McConnell of Stanford university, taking an in-depth look at the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case currently before the US Supreme Court.


Alan Shatter on denominational schools, marriage and religious freedom

By David Quinn on 26th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Schools and Education,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Alan Shatter has other things on his mind these days to be sure, but the other day he still managed to provide a written answer to a question from Mattie McGrath on whether religious schools will still be allowed to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman in the event of same-sex marriage being passed here.


Growing hostility to Christian and pro-life groups in universities

By Ben Conroy on 23rd March 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

There's a growing trend in Ireland which is worth highlighting – namely, the growing hostility of third-level institutions to groups representing advocating Christian and pro-life ideas. The phenomenon of universities excluding those who disagree with the current consensus on sexual morality, or the prevailing academic view of abortion, has already been happening for awhile in the US and the UK, but in the last few months it's increasingly become an issue here.


Breda O'Brien Debates Surrogacy on Prime Time

By David Quinn on 19th March 2014. ~ Categories: Other

Breda O'Brien was on RTE's Prime Time on Tuesday evening, debating surrogacy with Dean Hutchinson of the American for-profit company Circle Surrogacy.


Growing evidence that fatherlessness harms children

By Ben Conroy on 19th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Evidence that fatherlessness can have a bad effect on children is becoming harder and harder to ignore. Christopher A. Brown at the Huffington Post writers about a new review of studies on the effects of “Father Absence” which show that causation and not merely correlation is at work. There's a lot of interesting and sobering stuff it it, most of it confirming the destructive effect fatherlessness often has on children. But Brown's concluding words particularly struck me...


Sticking with a marriage for the sake of the children

By David Quinn on 17th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A headline in the Daily Telegraph reads, “Millions of Youngsters in Britain growing up in ‘loveless’ families”. This makes it sound like a tragedy for the children, but the story could just as easily read, “Millions of couples stay together for the sake of their children”, which is probably what is happening in many cases. As the Telegraph reports it, data from the Department for Work and Pensions “show that in households where both biological parents live together, 24 percent say they are either fairly, a little or very unhappy with their relationship”.


By David Quinn on 14th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family


A different view of sex education

By David Quinn on 14th March 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Chastity group, Pure in Heart, has been under heavy media fire lately. The Iona Institute's Ben Conroy was on a number of programmes in the last few days talking about Pure In Heart and responsible sex education. He argued that sex education in schools should be less about providing information about contraception, and more about providing young people with a holistic view of sex, with a focus on commitment, love and fidelity.


What responsible sex education really looks like

By Ben Conroy on 11th March 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

What constitutes responsible sex education? What should it look like? It's an ongoing debate, but one thing all sides at least pay lip service to is the idea that that the information we give to young people in schools should be based on scientific evidence. Chastity group Pure In Heart has recently gotten a lot of grief for suggesting that “condoms have a one-in-six failure rate”. The thing is that, properly understood, this claim is correct.


The battle over surrogate motherhood heats up

By Ben Conroy on 7th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Over at The Public Discourse, here's a really interesting piece by Jennifer Lahl of the Center for Bioethics in America on surrogacy in the US, and on some of the legal battles now taking place in various states. With Alan Shatter's Children and Family Relationships Bill on the horizon, this topic is one we ought to be hearing a lot more about in the coming months because, if passed, the Bill will permit surrogacy - unlike the situation in other European countries such as Germany.


‘Catholic schools have no right to promote Catholic sexual morality’

By Ben Conroy on 5th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Schools and Education,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Catholic schools are not entitled to promote Catholic views on sexuality, Dr Jacky Jones, formerly of the HSE, announced in The Irish Times on Monday. Where does one even begin?


How Ireland’s marriage rate has declined in the last 40 years

By David Quinn on 4th March 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

In his column last week, Fintan O’Toole of The Irish Times tried to argue that the institution of marriage has not declined at all in Ireland. His chief piece of evidence was that the number of marriages in Ireland has actually gone up compared with a few decades ago. He overlooked many countervailing facts including the huge increase in the number of births outside marriage, the huge increase in cohabitation and the large increase in divorce and separation. But even the marriage rate itself isn't as simple as it appears.


Why does chastity group provoke shock and awe?

By Ben Conroy on 28 Feb 2014. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

The Catholic lay group Pure in Heart has been attracting criticism lately, some of which actually managed to mention them in the same breath as Holocaust deniers. The chief reason for the criticism is that they promote chastity. In his weekly column in The Irish Independent David Quinn defends Pure in Heart and specifically addresses criticism that what they teach is ‘offensive’ and ‘unrealistic’.


Do dads matter? Of course they do

By David Quinn on 26th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Do dads matter in the lives of their children? The authors of this article from The Atlantic are in no doubt that they do and that children often suffer when they don’t have a father who looks out for them. The authors draw on both evidence and stories to back up their argument. It’s a message that society badly needs to hear. In Ireland as in America, huge numbers of children are growing up without the benefit of a father.


Breda O’Brien discusses same-sex marriage etc with Marian Finucane

By David Quinn on 25th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Breda O'Brien was interviewed by Marian Finucane on her programme last Saturday about same-sex marriage and the 'homophobia'/RTE apology controversy. Breda discusses the implications of same-sex marriage for children's rights, and the personal impact of some of the hate mail she has received for her stance on the issue. The interview also discusses the work of The Iona Institute.


New poll reveals support for same-sex marriage is soft

By David Quinn on 12 Feb 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A new RTE/Sunday Business Post poll confirms the finding of an Irish Times opinion poll on same-sex marriage from a few months back, namely that support for the proposition stands in or around 75 percent. That’s a very big lead. However, this latest poll confirms what some commentators have suspected all along, namely that much of the support for it is soft.


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