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.


Why Richard Dawkins can’t claim all the religiously unaffiliated

By David Quinn on 2010. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

The number of people in Western countries, including Ireland, who say they belong to no religion is on the increase. Census 2011 showed that almost six percent of Irish people say they belong to no religion, while a new poll in the US puts the figure at one in five. But can Richard Dawkins (pictured) and other atheists claim all these people for their camp? The short answer is, absolutely not.


Mum, dad and the kids hit hardest by the recession

By David Quinn on October 12, 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

New figures from the CSO show that one household type, and one only, has suffered an overall loss in gross income in the years between 2005 and 2010, and that was households consisting of mothers and fathers with one to three children. The Government must take care not to hit them hard again.


An argument and some questions for Mary McAleese to consider

By David Quinn on 9th October 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

One of the best philosophers working in Canada today is Margaret Somerville. She has devoted a lot of her energies to examining the ethics of assisted human reproduction and as a natural extension of this has been examining the issue of same-sex marriage, which she opposes. Why does it make sense to extend your ethical framework from assisted human reproduction to same-sex marriage? The reason is that both attack the central importance to children of the natural ties and of motherhood and fatherhood.


What is the liberal argument against multi-partner marriage?

By Tom O'Gorman on 5th October 2012. ~ Categories: Other

Professor John Haldane, during his talk to the Iona Institute, stated that sexual relations in modern societies were “governed by two principles; the principle of sexual attraction and the principle of sentiment”. He said: “The argument that has evolved from that is very simple. It’s just this: that sexual attraction and love are the determinates of human happiness and should be consummated where sincerely and consensually felt.”


Is opposition to divorce the same as opposition to same-sex marriage?

By Tom O'Gorman on 2nd October 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Schools and Education,Freedom of Conscience and Religion

During the debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly this week over same-sex marriage, it was suggested that legalising gay marriage could threaten the freedom of Catholic schools to teach the traditional view of marriage. However, Conall McDevitt of the SDLP scoffed at this idea. He asked “Are Catholic schools teaching children about divorce?”


Dáil debate on children's rights referendum clichéd and ill-informed

By Tom O'Gorman on 1st October 2012. ~ Categories: Other

The Dáil debate on the Government's children's rights referendum has, sadly, generated precious little light. It was, instead, full of clichés. Instead of a nuanced discussion of the finer points of the wording itself, the debate (and that word is used very loosely in this context) rehashed a series of unfortunate misapprehensions about what the children’s rights referendum will actually solve.


Adoption, Vincent Browne and the best interests of children

By David Quinn on 27th September 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

In his weekly column in The Irish Times Vincent Browne complains that the proposed children’s rights amendment (CRA) doesn’t go far enough. For example, he maintains that even if passed it will still be too difficult to adopt children in foster care because it will still give too many rights to the natural parents.


Why Gen-X and Gen-Y aren’t getting married

By Tom O'Gorman on 25th September 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

We're all familiar with the fact that people are waiting longer and longer to get married, and that cohabitation is more and more common among young people. However, this doesn’t mean most young people no longer want to get married, even though a growing number don’t.


RTE's 'Gay Daddy' programme misses all the big ethical issues

By Tom O'Gorman on 21st September 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

On Tuesday, RTE aired a documentary in which a gay man examined his options as to how to become a father. The programme, Gay Daddy, followed TV presenter Darren Kennedy as he examined the possible routes by which he could become a father. But it is fair to say that it did not really examine any of the profound ethical issues raised by the subject.


David Quinn and Fergus Finlay debate the proposed children's referendum

By Tom O'Gorman on 19th September 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

On Sunday, David Quinn and Fergus Finlay of children's charity Barnardos debated the Government's proposed children's rights referendum on RTE Radio's This Week programme. You can listen to the debate here.


A Government Minister’s defence of religion in the public square

By Tom O'Gorman on 17th September 2012. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

It's a rare thing, these days for a West European politician to “do God”. It's rarer still when the politician in question does so in a thoughtful, considered way. That's what makes Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles' (pictured) article in the Daily Telegraph the other day so interesting.


Do the maths, Minister, religious education isn’t to blame

By Tom O'Gorman on 15th September 2012. ~ Categories: Schools and Education,Religion and Religious Practice

This week the OECD produced figures showing Ireland devotes less time on average to teaching science and maths than other countries, and more time teaching RE. We’re rightly worried about falling literacy and numeracy skills here and some people have concluded that the answer is to spend less time teaching RE.


The reason you’re not married is because ‘you’re a b*tch’

By David Quinn on 13th September 2012. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

An article called ‘Why you’re not married’ has gone viral on the internet. It’s written by a TV scriptwriter named Tracy McMillan, who has been married three times herself. It is aimed at women who want to be married but aren’t married and wonder why. Pulling absolutely no punches, she tells them.


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.


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