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.


Getting to the heart of the same-sex marriage debate

By David Quinn on 4th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Some months ago Robert P George, Ryan T Anderson and Sherif Girgis wrote one of the best papers to date on the same-sex marriage issue. That paper has prompted an ongoing debate with various advocates of same-sex marriage critiquing it and the paper’s authors, chiefly Girgis responding.


Will the Taoiseach object to 16 year-olds getting the Pill?

By Tom O'Gorman on 29th July 2011. ~ Categories: Other

Last week the Law Reform Commission (LRC) published a report, Children and the Law: Medical Treatment, which said that teens as young as 16, and in some cases younger, should be able to access contraception without their parents approving or even knowing. This is in spite of the fact that age of legal consent for sexual intercourse is still 17.


Polygamy enters the mainstream

By Tom O'Gorman on 27th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Those who argue against same-sex marriage sometimes argue that to legalise it would be to fundamentally redefine marriage. Legalise same-sex marriage, they argue, and you may as well legalise polygamy. If marriage shouldn't be confined to a man and a woman, why should it be confined to just two people? Why not one man and two women, or one woman and two men etc.


If Enda is serious about protecting children then he must promote marriage

By David Quinn on 25th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Speaking at the Glenties Summer School at the weekend, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it was the aim of his Government “to create the environment where the innocence of children can develop naturally through their formative years.” If he is serious about this, then the number one thing his Government needs to do is promote and strengthen marriage.


Getting it wrong on cohabitation

By Tom O'Gorman on 21st July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A new study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) indicates that children raised by cohabiting couples do no worse on average than children raised by married couples once socio-economic background is taken into account, and therefore there is no good reason on the part of the State to encourage marriage.


Is the idea of sexual exclusivity in marriage passé?

By Tom O'Gorman on 15th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

W. Brad Wilcox, a US sociologist who researches in area of marriage, had a piece in The Washington Post last week, attacking the idea, which appears to be gaining ground, that marriage be sexually exclusive is passé. Wilcox points out that there are a range of problems with marital infidelity; out-of-wedlock births, increased risk of sexually transmitted infections, lack of emotional satisfaction, and the emotional risk to children where there is, as Wilcox puts it “a revolving carousel of romantic partners in the home”.


The Divorce Generation: An Opportunity Missed

By Jennie Mooney on 12th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

In a prominently featured book extract entitled ‘The Divorce Generation’ published in the Wall Street Journal (Saturday/Sunday July 9-10, 2011), author Susan Gregory-Thomas discusses the impact of divorce on her generation, Generation X.


Ireland needs to challenge contentious interpretations of UN human rights treaties

By David Quinn on 7 July 2011. ~ Categories: Other

Ireland goes before the UN Human Rights Council in October to report on how well it is doing in conforming to the various UN human rights conventions and treaties the Irish State has signed. The Irish submission is now publicly available. It is very heavily biased towards a particular interpretation of human rights.


A take on New York’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage

By Tom O'Gorman on 5th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Ross Douthat in the New York Times has a useful piece on exactly why same-sex marriage damages the institution of marriage. His piece is a response to the argument that says that same-sex marriage will have no impact on the health of the institution.


Fianna Fail’s position on adoption misses the real story

By David Quinn on 4th July 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Last week Charlie McConalogue of Fianna Fail tabled a Private Member’s Bill to allow the adoption of the children of married couples. He was supported in this by party colleague, John Browne. Browne said it a good thing overall that so few Irish children are available for adoption. To put it mildly, this is arguable.


The debate on the ’child citizen’ of the New Republic continues

By David Quinn on 1st July 2011. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Dr Tom Hickey has kicked off a lively and useful debate about our schooling system and the meaning of republicanism. In a blog last week, I took issue (among other things) with the phrase ‘child-citizen’ which Dr Hickey continually used in his article. In any event, Dr Hickey has responded in a blog of his own and it is worth a read.


How should parishes be compensated if they give up their schools?

By Tom O'Gorman on 29th June 2011. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

One of the most difficult issues that has arisen in the context of the debate over the transfer of denominational primary schools to other patrons is whether the present owner and patrons of such schools should be financially compensated. The Church of Ireland has offered an imaginative solution to this problem.


The debate about daycare in Sweden continues

By David Quinn on 27 June 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Other

Our recent conference on women, home and work is still causing a reaction. One of our speakers, Jonas Himmelstrand, had an article in The Irish Times on Friday responding to Ursula Kilkelly and Dympna Devine who insisted that the ‘Nordic’ daycare model (meaning in practice the Swedish one) is what we need to copy here in Ireland.


‘Child citizens’ of the New Irish Republic

By David Quinn on 24 June 2011. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Tom Hickey, a PhD student from NUI Galway, has written the most extraordinary article on school patronage for The Irish Times today in which he repeatedly refers not to children, but to ‘child citizens’.


The public still believes in the value of fatherhood, but...

By David Quinn on 21st June 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

A new poll from the prestigious Pew Research Centre issued to coincide with Father’s Day, shows that 70 percent of Americans believe women having children without a dad to help raise them is bad for society. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron would agree.


Accepting ‘tolerance’ or else, argues legal academic

By David Quinn on 17th June 2011. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Writing in The Irish Times yesterday, law lecturer Ronan McCrea argued that immigrant laws must give preference to people who are committed to ‘tolerance’. Depending on what he means, this could be deeply problematic, or not.


Divorce and the war of all against all

By David Quinn on 15th June 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Study after study has been produced showing the negative effects of divorce on children. But even when the children of divorce manage to keep up their school grades and so on, divorce can still affect them in ways that are not directly measurable. I came across a very relevant quote on this point the other day from the philosopher Allan Bloom.


Defenders of the Swedish day-care system completely miss the point

By David Quinn on 11th June 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

At our conference on Women, Home and Work a fortnight ago, speaker Jonas Himmelstrand said the Swedish day-care model should not be followed by other countries because it is failing both children and parents in his country.


‘Liberating’ mothers from their motherhood instincts

By Ruth Foley on 9th June 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

As mentioned in my previous blog on the topic, at the recent Iona Institute conference, I was shocked by some of Jonas Himmelstrand's descriptions of family policy in Sweden. As I understood, it aimed, among other things, to "liberate mothers from motherhood instincts," so they could continue their careers.


Sticks and carrots to promote dual income families

By Ruth Foley on 7th June 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

At the Iona Institute’s family policy conference late last month, we heard Jonas Himmelstrand’s sometimes jaw-dropping description of Swedish family policy. It was interesting to hear, on the one hand, how government policy and media so strongly promote the Swedish model of full-time daycare and full employment for parents as early as the child's second year.


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