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 [email protected] and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.


Stephen Fry condemns suffering, but who is doing most to alleviate it?

By Frederik Bosch on 13th February 2015. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

Stephen Fry’s latest attempt to remind the world just how relevant and intelligent he is has brought Irish media legend Gay Byrne into the debate. In his show “The Meaning of Life,” Gay asked Fry what he would say, should he encounter God at the Gates of Heaven (assuming Saint Peter has given him a pass)? His response: “I’ll say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What's that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that’s not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”


What the French baby mix-up reveals about the natural ties

By Ben Conroy on 10th February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Two French families who had their daughters mixed up in hospital have been awarded over two million euro worth of damages in court. When a child is separated from their natural family by accident, it's a tragedy. But what if the child is separated from one or both of their biological parents on purpose? Isn't that a violation of rights too? That's the question supporters of sperm and egg donation and surrogacy have to answer.


Children lose out in The Irish Times’ wholly adult-centred view of marriage

By David Quinn on 9 Feb 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

We should be grateful to The Irish Times for setting out in its editorial today such a comprehensively adult-centred view of marriage. The newspaper is entirely happy to completely separate the issue of children from the issue of marriage and never thinks to ask whether this is actually a good thing or not. It's not, of course.


Could there be a legal challenge to calling it the ‘marriage equality’ referendum?

By David Quinn on 5th February 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The Government has decided to call the Bill to amend the Constitution and permit same-sex marriage," The Thirty-Fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015". Giving it such a completely loaded name, entirely favourable to the Yes side has been called into question by legal academic, Dr Seán Ó Conaill. Dr Ó Conaill believes calling it this is constitutionally doubtful as it immediately biases voters in favour of it.


Is the right to a mother and father meaningless?

By Ben Conroy on 2nd February 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

There's a persistent idea on the Yes side that notions that the idea of a child having a “right to a mother and father” or “a right to a relationship with their genetic parents” is a nonsense argument because – or so the reasoning goes – the state can't guarantee it. Their mother might tragically die, their father might walk out, and there's not much anyone can do about it. This case is made with particular regularity and force by journalist Vincent Browne. But what would happen if we applied this logic to a few other rights? How about the most basic one – the right to life?


The real reason why there are fewer female profs

By Frederik Bosch on 29th January 2014. ~ Categories: Other

The usual hand-wringing continues. Peter McGuire at the Irish Times is all in a tizzy about gender imbalances at professor-level in our universities. Apparently it’s all discrimination of one kind or another and has nothing to do with the choice many women make in the real world about how to properly balance home and work.


What Leo Varadkar said about the right to a mother and a father in full

By David Quinn on 23 Jan 2015. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Sean O’Rourke on his show today (23/1) put it to Leo Varadkar that he has previously stated that children have a right to a mother and a father. The Minister said he was quoted out of context. That is not the case.


Iona Institute representatives debate same-sex marriage

By Admin on 21 January 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The announcement by Health Minister, Leo Varadkar, that he is gay resulted in a spate of programmes yesterday that debated same-sex marriage. Iona Institute representatives appeared on The Pat Kenny Show, The Last Word and Claire Byrne Live. David Quinn, Breda O'Brien and Ben Conroy all made appearances.


One sperm donor father, 23 mothers

By Admin on 16th January 2014. ~ Categories:

Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World should be required reading for anyone interested in social policy questions. In Huxley's "happy dystopia", the ties of flesh and blood have absolutely no importance. All children are conceived in test-tubes, and veryone is selected and conditioned as embroyos to fulfill a particular societal function, with those that don't measure up being discarded. When I read stories like the following one about the fertility industry in Hollywood, I often think of Huxley. To cut a long story short, one sperm donor has fathered at least 23 children with 23 mothers and the mothers found many of them live within a stone’s throw of each other.


The forgotten stay-at-home parents

By Ben Conroy on 12th January 2014. ~ Categories:

The Irish Times has recently been running a series of interviews with Irish people from all walks of life, and this week's one is particularly worth reading. Annmarie Boles is a stay-at-home mother, and writes articulately and persuasively about her experience. For her, working full-time in the home is not a second-best option, or something that she's been forced into.


Single parents and the marriage movement

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

"How can marriage campaigners better reach out to single parents?" asks Ashley Maguire in a blog on The Institute for Family Studies' website. She thinks the pro-marriage movement can learn from the pro-life movement, particularly from the latter's successes in the United States, where 231 pro-life laws have been passed at the state level since 2014. Maguire looks at an Atlantic article by David Frum which analyses the development of the US anti-abortion movement since Roe VS Wade.


The unborn baby in latest right-to-life controversy must count for something

By David Quinn on 22 Dec 14. ~ Categories: Other

At a minimum we ought to be able to agree that there are two lives to be considered in the latest right-to-die/right-to-life case to come to our attention, namely the tragic case of the pregnant woman who is clinically brain-dead but whose unborn baby has a chance at life. However, to judge from much pro-choice commentary on the matter to date, only the mother is being considered, or the wishes of her family. The life of the baby does not weigh in the balance at all. That is wrong.


The problem with ‘Platonic parenting’

By Ben Conroy on 18th December 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Writing in the Atlantic magazine, Alana Samuels has an article about a new phenomenon: the increasing numbers of single women and lesbian couples who are seeking sperm donors who will take an active role in their children's lives, as distinct from no role, which is the preferred option of most people who used donor sperm to have children. Dawn Pieke is a single woman who wants her child to have a relationship with her sperm-donor dad. The dad is Fabian Blue, a gay man she met online on a website for people who wanted to have kids and raise them together, but without a romantic relationship. This is what's known as ‘Platonic parenting’.


The BAI’s duty to ensure fairness on the airwaves

By David Quinn on 15 Dec 2015. ~ Categories: Other

The BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) has been facing a backlash ever since it ruled that an item on Newstalk’s Breakfast Show breached the broadcast regulations by being excessively biased in favour of same-sex marriage. The Breakfast Show had to read out the ruling last week. A similar ruling was made against the Mooney Show a few months ago. The BAI has to stand its ground in the interests of democracy.


As G.K. Chesterton once said: “Most Eugenists are Euphemists”

By Frederik Bosch on 9 Dec 2014. ~ Categories: Other

Independent TD Mattie McGrath spoke recently about his Private Members’ Bill entitled The Disability (Amendment) Act 2014 during a press conference organised by the advocacy group Every Life Counts. Deputy McGrath seeks to regulate against the continued use of the phrase “incompatible with life.” Another key word in his statement was “dehumanising.” Indeed.


Euthanasia and assisted suicide: Lessons from Belgium

By David Quinn on Dec 4, 2014. ~ Categories: Other

A debate over ‘assisted suicide’ is already taking place in Ireland and is only going to gain in intensity over time as the population ages, healthcare costs increase and notions of personal autonomy continue to override other important social and moral goods.


The child-centred vs the adult-centred view of marriage

By David Quinn on Nov 29 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Bishop Kevin Doran said at a talk on Thursday night organised by The Iona Institute that if we permit same-sex marriage, the link between marriage as an institution and procreation will have been destroyed. This is the child-centred view of marriage. Brian Sheehan of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) responded by offering a very adult-centred view of marriage thereby proving Bishop Doran’s point.


Divorce harms children says new research. Didn't we already know that?

By Frederik Bosch on 27th November 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

BBC Radio 5 Live was awash with this latest research the other day, commissioned by family lawyers’ association Resolution to mark the start of Family Dispute Resolution Week. They found that the children of divorced parents fare worse in school, and some can experience eating disorders, while some turn to alcohol and drugs. I know: I was shocked, too…


David Quinn talks surrogacy with Newstalk's Moncrieff

By Admin on 21st November 2014. ~ Categories: Other

Iona Institute Director David Quinn was on Newtalk’s Moncrieff programme last week talking about surrogacy. In a long interview, Moncrieff and Quinn discussed the differences between surrogacy and gamete donation on the one hand and adoption on the other. Quinn asked Moncrieff to consider some of the unintended consequences that could come about through legislation for assisted reproductive technologies: he pointed out that it would be perfectly possible for a single man to commission a child through egg donation and surrogacy.


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' Astounding Speech on Marriage

By Ben Conroy on 20th November 2014. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Wow. That was, essentially, my reaction upon first reading Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ speech on marriage a the Vatican’s Humanum Conference (or the Colloqium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage, to give it its full name). This is one of the deepest, most profound defences of the institution of marriage that I’ve ever read. In fact, to call it a defence would be to do it an injustice: as evangelical pastor Rick Warren said at the same conference “It's not enough to defend marriage. You have to celebrate it.”


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