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.


Fighting poverty means encouraging marriage

By David Quinn on 29th September 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

US Census data on poverty was released a few days ago. The prestigious Brookings Institute in Washington held a press conference to analyse the data, and Ron Haskins, a Senior Fellow of the Institute, drew attention to something that is equally relevant to Ireland, namely the link between poverty and female-headed households. He told journalists: “Unless we can do something about poverty in female-headed families, we are not going to have major impacts on policy".


Are you whatever sex you believe yourself to be?

By David Quinn on 27 Sept 2011. ~ Categories: Other

The proposed Irish law recognising the rights of transgendered persons looks set to be based on the law in the UK, which is one of the most radical in Europe. But for some Irish activists, it’s not radical enough. The law in the UK is so radical it allows a person with male genitals to be officially recognised as a woman and someone with female genitals to be officially designated a man. It appears our law is going to follow suit.


Growing Up in Ireland finding shows need to revisit tax individualisation

By Tom O'Gorman on 24th September 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

One of the big new findings from the latest report from the Government's longtitudinal study on children, 'Growing Up in Ireland', was that children feel less close to their parents if their parents work long hours. This is hardly surprising but it is a reason for worry, especially if, as we hear our politicians continuously assert, we have the best interests of children at heart, rather than simply the interests of the economy.


Frank skins the secularists

By Tom O'Gorman on September 21 2011. ~ Categories: Other

Anyone who has ever watched British comedian Frank Skinner would regard him as a very unlikely defender of religion. His humour, full of explicit sexual references, is usually euphemistically described as “laddish”.


Eat, Pray, Love (yourself)

By Tom O'Gorman on 18th September 2011. ~ Categories: Other

The Daily Telegraph's website featured an article the other day about women who suddenly decide in middle age to divorce their “boring” husbands and “find themselves”. Call it the “Eat, Pray, Love” phenomenon, after the book of the same name. The story, based on real life, is about a woman who decides that her life with her husband is not fulfilling enough, and decides to leave to go on a journey of “self-discovery”.


Why Sweden isn’t a children’s paradise after all

By David Quinn on 15th September 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Schools and Education

Yet another report has been issued by the UN which paints Sweden as a paradise for children. The latest report, issued by UNICEF, is called ‘Children’s Well-being in UK, Sweden and Spain: The Role of Inequality and Materialism’. The study does have interesting things to say about materialism. For example, it contrasts the manner in which British parents endlessly buy toys for their children compared with the much more restrained attitude of Swedish and Spanish parents.


China, the growth of Christianity...and Enda Kenny

By David Quinn on 13th September 2011. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

An item on the BBC the other day drew attention to the explosive growth of Christianity in China. The Government estimates that there are 25 million Chinese Christians, but a much bigger though still conservative estimate puts it at 60 million. According to the BBC: “There are already more Chinese at church on a Sunday than in the whole of Europe”.


On the notion of the ‘child-centred’ divorce

By Tom O'Gorman on 11th September 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Elizabeth Marquardt, writing on the Family Scholars Blog, mentions an article in the Wall Street entitled “The Child Focused Divorce” in which a couple agree that they “wanted to minimize the damage the split would do to their daughters”. This all sounds very fine, but as Elizabeth (whose mother divorced twice when Elizabeth was young) points out, it is very hard for a divorce to be genuinely child-focused in any inherent sense.


Seal of Confession issue is not “bogus”

By David Quinn on Sept 8 2011. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter (pictured) yesterday said the row over proposals to break the seal of confession is “an entirely bogus issue”. With respect to the Minister, it is not.


On Ireland’s proposal for the Seal of Confession

By David Quinn on 3rd September 2011. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

In my column this week in The Irish Independent I write about the seal of confession issue and the proposal by the Government to require by law that it be breached when a confession of child abuse is heard.


The seal of confession and freedom of religion

By Tom O'Gorman on 1st September 2011. ~ Categories: Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Today’s criticism by The Irish Times of Cardinal Sean Brady's defence of the seal of confession is puzzling to say the least. Cardinal Brady described Government proposals which would require Catholic priests to break the seal where child abuse is confessed as an attack on religious freedom.


Tony Blair’s confused thinking on the UK riots

By Tom O'Gorman on 30th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair's (pictured) has written about the London riots and to judge from a headline The Guardian put on his analysis you could be forgiven for thinking Blair rejected David Cameron’s “broken society” rhetoric in its entirety. It’s true that Blair seemed to reject suggestions that there was an overall moral crisis, but then he appeared to contradict himself by describing Cameron's speech on the matter as “excellent”. (He also said that the speech by current Labour leader, Ed Miliband, was excellent.)


Sexualising children in our Brave New World

By David Quinn on 27th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Recently I read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for the first time. I was reminded of it the other day when reading about a sex education kit being handed out to young children in Switzerland. In Brave New World, the children who are ‘decanted’ in baby factories are raised by the State, not parents, and from a very early age are encouraged to ‘explore their sexuality’.


Are Asian women really rejecting marriage?

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

The cover story of The Economist last week was called ‘Asia’s lonely hearts: Why Asian women are rejecting marriage and what that means’. The picture on the front showed a lovelorn Asian man, rose in hand, and a woman striding purposefully away from him.


How we are depleting our moral capital

By David Quinn on 23rd August 2011. ~ Categories: Other

One of Britain’s most acute and insightful thinkers today is Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (pictured). Dr Sacks has written about the UK looting and arson for a number of publications, including in this article from the Wall Street Journal. In it he makes the point that the West has been spending its moral capital as fast and as recklessly as it spent its financial capital.


Children’s conference has blind spot about marriage

By David Quinn on 20th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The topic of this year’s Merriman Summer School in Co Clare is ‘Changing Irish Childhoods’. It ends on Sunday. So far it has been addressed by such people as Children’s Minister, Frances Fitzgerald (pictured), Norah Gibbons of Bernardos, and Mary O’Rourke. To judge from the reports of their speeches in The Irish Times, one very important subject has been absent from them, namely the importance of marriage.


Words of wisdom on fatherless children

By Tom O'Gorman on 18th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

David Cameron was the most prominent figure who suggested that fatherlessness and general moral breakdown were behind last week's riots, but he wasn't on his own. David Lammy (pictured), The Labour MP for the Tottenham area, where the riots started said that the lack of male role models in young men’s lives was one of the long term reasons behind the trouble.


Time for Cameron to walk the talk on families

By Tom O'Gorman on 16th August 2011. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Monday's speech by Prime Minister David Cameron used some of the strongest language heard from any politician anywhere in Britain or Ireland in a very long time to describe the extent of the moral collapse which led to the anarchy and looting in British cities last week. Mr Cameron spoke of “people showing indifference to right and wrong” and “a complete absence of self-restraint” and stated, correctly, that the unwillingness of politicians to speak the truth about behaviour and morality had actually helped to cause the social problems we see around us.


Why an obsession with GDP harms the family

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

A growing GDP is generally considered to be a very healthy and desirable thing for a country, but in fact as a measure of economic, much less social well-being, it is a very blunt instrument which for one thing ill-serves the family. Here is a useful article by Robert W. Patterson of the Family in America journal in which he points out that most people want to see an economy that supports families, not one that is simply about growth.


Collapse of traditional family one reason for the riots

By David Quinn on 12 August 11. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Other

The looting and arson in Britain have many causes, but who can seriously doubt that one of the causes is the collapse of traditional morality and the traditional family in large parts of Britain. Notably, Indians were not among the rioters. Why not?


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