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.


Why a former Supreme Court judge thinks we don't need a children's referendum

By Tom O'Gorman on 12th September 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Yesterday, writing in the Irish Independent, former Supreme Court judge Hugh O'Flaherty said that he didn't think that the Government's proposed referendum on children's rights was necessary. He said that the aims of the wording, such as making the welfare of children a paramount consideration, extending the right to adoption where child's welfare requires, providing education, including free education at primary level and making sure the State's laws and services match the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child were "laudable".


It’s not just the children of married parents who aren’t placed for adoption, Minister

By David Quinn on 10 Sept 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald was on Today with Pat Kenny this morning (Monday) talking about the forthcoming children right’s referendum. She said that one reason we need the referendum is because it is so hard to adopt the children of married parents who therefore languish in the legal limbo of foster care system for years.


Surrogacy is very unlikely to be upheld by international law

By Tom O'Gorman on 9th September 2012. ~ Categories: Other

Some months ago, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill which would have allowed virtually unlimited surrogacy in his state. Surrogacy is banned in one European country after another. Here, Justice Minister Alan Shatter appears to be contemplating one of the most liberal surrogacy regimes in the world. Surrogacy is, of course, a process by which a woman who may or may not be the genetic mother carries a child only to surrender it to a contracting couple upon it birth.


The conflict between gender ideology and science exposed again

By David Quinn on 6th September 2012. ~ Categories: Other

We hear a lot about the conflict between science and religion. However, as I’ve argued before, the real conflict these days is between science and various forms of political correctness, including feminism. This conflict is starkly highlighted in a recent Norwegian documentary about the absurdities of gender ideology.


How an unimaginative penal system damages families

By Niall Leahy SJ on 4th September 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

This blog has recently commented on the fact that there is an increasing marriage gap between the middle class and those from poorer areas. In the article concerned, Eve Tushnet, an American crisis-pregnancy counsellor, argued that the US's ineffective and harmful penal policy is a major contributor to the breakdown of families from lower socio-economic groups.


Church and State and Pat Rabbitte

By David Quinn on August 31 2012. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Pat Rabbitte got himself into a bit of hot water when he told RTE last weekend that he thought it would be a regressive step if the Church started ‘dictating’ to politicians again. He had been ask to comment on Cardinal Sean Brady’s remark on the same programme that the Church might lobby politicians on the abortion issue.


Putting Humpty Dumpty back together again

By David Quinn on 28th August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

There is a growing marriage gap between the middle class and many of those who live in our poorest areas. Basically, the middle class still aspire to marry and get married. In the poorest areas the aspiration to marry is still there – to an extent – but a growing number of people think it’s an unrealistic aspiration. This article by Eve Tushnet, a woman who has spent ten years doing counselling work at a pro-life crisis pregnancy agency, offers some insight into why this is so.


What's that beam sticking out of your eye Mr Hefner?

By David Quinn on 25th August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Ok, attacking Hugh Hefner for saying it is traditionalists, and not the likes of him, who reduce the meaning of sex is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but let’s do it anyway. The website Politico reports that in the current issue of Playboy Hefner editorialises against traditionalists who are seeking, he reckons, to strip sex of its proper meaning and rob people of their rights. Hef thunders: “Today, in every instance of sexual rights falling under attack, you’ll find legislation forced into place by people who practice discrimination disguised as religious freedom.


The latest cause of relationship conflict; video games!

By Tom O'Gorman on 23rd August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

We know that severe financial difficulties, terrible communication and infidelity can lead to marital breakdown, but video games? According to a study, conflict over video games, and media generally, can indeed play a significant role in relationship conflict.


Could children have more than two legal parents in the near future?

By David Quinn on 21st August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

There are tentative moves in Ireland to change the law so that more than two people can be recognised as the legal parents of a child. The Law Reform Commission, for example, has made a recommendation to this effect. There are similar moves in the US to break ‘the rule of two’. The ‘rule of two’ arises, of course, from a fact, namely the very basic fact that a child has two and only two biological parents. It can’t have more than two or less than two.


Big Brother now looking to censor how we pray

By Tom O'Gorman on 18th August 2012. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Freedom of religion used to be understood by one and all as the freedom to worship privately, and the freedom, within reason, to manifest that faith in the public square. It was taken for granted that one's work should not compromise one’s deeply held religious convictions. In recent times, this notion of religious freedom has become more and more contested.


A look into the murky world of surrogate motherhood

By David Quinn on 16th August 2012. ~ Categories: Other

One of the best blogs around is the Public Discourse by the Witherspoon Institute in the US. Its latest entry deals with the often very murky world of surrogate motherhood. It cites the case of a couple who had commissioned a woman to have a child for them, but who divorced and then told the woman, who was 27 months pregnant at the time, that they had no more need for the child. It also cites the case of a couple who, having taking delivery of their child from the surrogate mother, left her to foot a medical bill of over $200,000 back in Austria.


The irreducible core of of same-sex marriage debate

By David Quinn on 14th August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

At this stage I have read quite a few books and innumerable articles about the same-sex marriage debate. One of the best of the books is a new one called simply, Debating Same-Sex Marriage. It is co-authored by John Corvino, a lecturer in philosophy at Wayne State University in America, and Maggie Gallagher of the National Organisation for Marriage. Corvino argues in favour of same-sex marriage and Gallagher against and both authors put their case well.


Is Ireland really less religious than Iceland?

By Tom O'Gorman on 11th August 2012. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

The new poll by Gallup/Red C suggesting that Ireland is now less religious than Iceland certainly generated lots of headlines, but what did it really tell us about how religious we are? After all, as David Quinn pointed out in his Irish Independent analysis piece on the matter, roughly a third of Irish people still go to Mass weekly, and a further 15 percent go every month.


Growing up with two mothers: a personal account

By David Quinn on 10th August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Robert Oscar Lopez has written a very heart-felt account of being raised by two mothers and no father and the consequences of this in his life. Obviously the account of one person is purely anecdotal and some of the unfortunate twists and turns that occurred in his life would not have happened to others who were raised by two mothers, and would have happened to some who were raised by a mother and a father.


Is our Government really pro-child?

By Tom O'Gorman on 8th August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Is our Government as pro-child as it claims? Irish Independent reporter Thomas Molloy has dug up a few figures to suggest it might not be. He writes: “As a society, we have made a conscious decision to favour the elderly (who vote) and discriminate against children (who don't). There is no other country in Europe that allows old people to travel for free while forcing children to pay for school buses and other forms of public transport."


Another row breaks out about women’s work/life balance

By Tom O'Gorman on 3rd August 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A row of sorts has broken out in The Irish Times between two of its contributors over the endlessly controversial question, ‘what do women want?’ It’s an immensely clichéd question, of course, but in respect of the proper balance between work and home, there is no one right answer, anymore than there is for men. What prompted the exchange between columnist Breda O’Brien (one of our patrons) and Irish Times journalist Judith Crosbie was a widely-read piece by former Hilary Clinton advisor Anne Marie Slaughter.


Chief Rabbi Sacks’ scathing denunciation of attacks on male circumcision

By David Quinn on 31st July 2012. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

It is scarcely believable that there is a growing threat to the practice of religiously motivated male circumcision in Europe. A fierce debate has erupted over the practice, chiefly in Germany following a court decision there against it. However, curbs have also been placed on it in certain Swiss and Austrian hospitals. In addition, we have today in the Irish Times an article condemning it as ‘male genital mutilation’ and comparing it with female genital mutilation.


A searing new report on radically dysfunctional families

By Tom O'Gorman on 28th July 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Schools and Education

A major new report on Britain's most dysfunctional families commissioned by the British Government in the aftermath of last year’s riots makes for disturbing reading but much of it is depressingly familiar. Quite apart from the accounts of serial physical and sexual abuse, it's the casual neglect of children and the failure of mothers to protect their children from such abuse, for fear of losing their new “boyfriends” that is shocking. To cite just one particularly dramatic example, one mother mentioned in the study “reported that her son slept with a knife under his pillow for fear of his stepfather”.


How the morning-after pill has put more pressure on women

By David Quinn on 24th July 2012. ~ Categories: Schools and Education,Other

When we made the morning-after-pill available from pharmacists without the need for a doctor’s prescription the change took place without any debate. We never asked whether the number of unwanted pregnancies would come down as a result, or what effect it would have on women’s health, or the effect it would have on sexual behaviour.


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