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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 email@example.com and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
On Tuesday The Iona Institute held a conference on child-care prompted by the recent Prime Time programme on this topic. The keynote speaker was Jonas Himmelstrand, a critic of the Swedish daycare system. He was interviewed by Drivetime on Monday. The next day, Drivetime interviewed a number of participants at the conference to give a flavor of the event.
Writing in today’s Irish Times (Letters) psychotherapist Joseph Flanagan indulges in the by now semi-obligatory go at the Catholic Church. The context is the current abortion debate. He accuses the Church of trying to “control this nation’s moral judgement” and of being “hysterical” in its reaction to the abortion bill. He brings up the issue of clerical sex abuse for good measure.
Last week, two cases emerged in the UK which highlighted the continuing assault on religious liberty and freedom of conscience. The Greater Glasgow and Clyde section of the NHS announced that it is to appeal Scotland’s supreme civil court ruling that two Catholic nurses would not have to delegate, supervise or support staff involved in abortions.
Stephen Collins, the respected political editor of The Irish Times, has a real bee in his bonnet about the Church’s interventions in the abortion debate. A few months ago he suggested that the bishops’ interventions were practically subversive and the Government had to resist at all costs in the name of democracy. Now he is saying that in publishing the abortion bill the Government has finally realised Daniel O’Connell’s dream of separating Church and State.
We have argued for a long time that the logic of egalitarianism when applied to marriage leads inexorably to it being stripped of special status entirely. The Village magazine agrees. It doesn’t think marriage should have special status. For sure, it believes that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, but it believes no special privileges should attach to marriage because that would treat other family types less equally.
The last decade has seen a surge in fashionable atheism, led by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. But in this piece in the Spectator, the UK's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, tackles their intellectual superficiality. He makes the point that the New Atheists have been lamentably weak at facing up to the ethical and moral implications of their atheism.
According to a survey in the Irish Times, fully 43pc of women feel that society values women who are in paid employment over women who work in the home. A piece in today's Irish Times nicely captures that sense of being undervalued.
The Irish Government seems intent on denying the importance of the biological tie between parent and child. Ultimately this is an attack on the right of a child to know and be raised, where possible, by their natural parents. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Government plans to introduce surrogacy legislation which will deny this right.
A new study has just been published in Australia about children raised by families in which at least one parent has a same-sex attraction. The study seems to ‘prove’ that children raised in such families do at least as well as children raised by heterosexual parents. Needless to say, the study proves no such thing.
The Pew Research Centre in the US has produced a new headline grabbing study which says that in 40pc of American households, the woman is the main breadwinner. At face value that figure of 40pc seems to indicate that a huge social revolution is taking place in family life and that is indeed the case, but it is not the revolution that the figure might at first indicate.
Exactly how large should the State loom in the lives of children? In Scotland the answer is, very large. A new piece of legislation has just been unveiled called the ‘Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill’ and under it, every child in Scotland will have an overseer appointed by the State to see to their ‘welfare’.
The issue of childcare is now firmly under the spotlight again, after RTE's Prime Time expose of mistreatment at a number of creches in Dublin and Wicklow. Much of the commentary has focused on weak inspection levels by the HSE, a lack of training among childcare staff and breaches of regulation.
At the weekend Paris saw the third massive demonstration in just a few months against same-sex marriage and for the true and authentic rights of children. Last weekend’s demonstration, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, took place only days after the French government legalized same-sex marriage.
In an article in the Irish Times, VEC teacher Sheila Maher has a piece argues against Catholic-run schools because they make children from non-Catholic backgrounds feel ‘excluded’. She takes her cue from the fact that children in primary schools up and down the country are making their First Communions this month.
Some of our Catholic politicians who are preparing to vote in favour of abortion are trying to square their consciences by pulling what amounts to the ‘John F Kennedy defence’. That is, they are trying to separate their consciences from the faith because they think this is what Kennedy did, even though it’s not, in fact, what he did.
Tuesday's ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Gross v Switzerland was both astonishing and disturbing. The court found that Switzerland's law, which allows doctors to prescribe drugs to allow patients to kill themselves didn't provide sufficient “clarity” and as such breached the plaintiff's right to respect for private life.
The family diversity or family equality argument is perfectly expressed today in The Irish Times by Karen Kiernan of One Family. The essence of her argument; the family in Ireland is changing, all families are equal in esteem and marriage shouldn’t be held in higher esteem. Therefore change the Constitution and remove the special status of marriage.
Those who favour allowing same-sex couples to marry argue, in public at least, that they seek only to extend marriage, and it is not their intention to destroy it. Some same-sex marriage advocates publicly disagree. One of them is Russian-American lesbian activist and author Masha Gessen.
During the course of the abortion debate there have been frequent calls on us to have a calm and rational debate and to keep it emotion-free. Despite this we have had leading commentators like Olivia O’Leary comparing Ireland with its pro-life laws to the Taliban’s Afghanistan and then in yesterday’s Irish Times we had an appalling cartoon in a similar vein from Martyn Turner.
Today on Morning Ireland Cathal MacCoille interviewed Dr David Fergusson about a paper he has written regarding the mental health effects of abortion. In the course of that interview, and a subsequent interview with Professor Patricia Casey, MacCoille badly misinterpreted The Iona Institute’s take on the Fergusson paper and led listeners to believe that Dr Fergusson was unhappy with how we quoted his paper. This is absolutely false.
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