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Iona Institute Director addresses PD annual conference

The Director of The Iona Institute was a guest speaker at the annual conference of the Progressive Democrats last Saturday. He urged the PDs to develop closer ties to the Churches, and also to develop a family policy that favoured marriage, while also assisting all families in need.

20/02/07
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Ireland children doing ok....ish, says new report

Ireland's children receive a pass mark in terms of child welfare, according to a major new UN report. The study, carried out by Unicef, the UN body with responsibility for children, shows that Ireland is in the middle of the league table of industrialised countries.

15/02/07
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Wording for “children's rights” vote finalised

A final wording for the Government's proposed referendum on children's rights has been decided upon, it emerged yesterday.

14/02/07
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Proposal to end stay-at-home credit “ludicrous”

A proposal from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) to abolish the tax credit for spouses who work in the home was dismissed yesterday as “ludicrous” by leading politicians.

14/02/07
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US divorce rate continues to increase among the poor: report

Divorce rates in the US continue to rise among those who have a poor educational background, new research from the University of Maryland has found.

13/02/07
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Catholic Church in Scotland prepared to “break the law” over gay adoption

The Catholic Church in Scotland has decided to fight new legislation which forces them to consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.

13/02/07
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Catholic Church launches new marriage initiatives to mark UK National Marriage Week

Two major initiatives, aimed at helping to strengthen marriage, have been launched by the Catholic Church in the UK. The projects have been timed to coincide with National Marriage Week, which runs from the 7th to the 14th of February.

09/02/07
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Government set to change wording on “children's rights” referendum.

Government plans to hold a referendum enshrining new rights for children were set to undergo significant change yesterday, as reports suggested that it was considering a new wording for the proposed amendment.

07/02/07
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Tax individualisation “unfair”, say Labour and Fine Gael

The Government's controversial tax individualisation scheme has been branded unfair by the main Opposition parties.

Labour and Fine Gael have both pointed to a growing income gap between homes with a stay-at-home spouse and those where both spouses are working.

While the measure, which was designed to encourage stay-at-home mothers into the workforce, was controversial when it was introduced in 1999, it later disappeared of the political radar. Now, however, it is set to become an election issue.

The difference in take-home pay has widened after changes made by the Minister for Finance in the 2007 Budget.

A single-income family could now pay up to €5,250 more in tax than their double-income counterpart, according to the Labour party.

In 2006, the gap between double income and single income families was €5060. However Opposition parties are believed to have noticed increasing resentment among voters in sole-breadwinner homes.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many single-income wage earners do not know that they are entitled to an annual €770 tax credit in respect of their stay-at-home spouse.

Even where they are claiming the credit, however, dual-income couples' still have a huge double advantage in terms of two standard PAYE tax credits, worth €1,760 each.

"Budget 2007 has exacerbated the discrimination in tax between the two family types by continuing the policies initially introduced by Charlie McCreevey through individualisation," said Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton on Sunday.

"The cost of this policy to these families is now close to €700m a year, based on the Revenue Commissioners pre-budget analysis."

While the purpose of the policy was to incentivise both parents to go out to work, regardless of circumstances, it was important to note that there are as many one-income households in Ireland as two-income ones, she said.

"There are approximately 75,000 one-income households earning between 150pc and 250pc of average earnings," Ms Burton said.

"These are families who have committed to caring for their children themselves or to looking after aged relatives. And the policy of individualisation is now costing them very dear."

Most one-income families are made up of employees, not owners of businesses.

"They are people who cannot afford creche and travel fees," Ms Burton said. "They are people who have a sick or disabled child who needs special care, which has been denied them.

"They are people who have an elderly parent or relative who requires additional care. They are the people who choose to care for family members at home rather than using nursing homes."

Fine Gael also accept that there is a yawning gap in the tax treatments - to the detriment of stay-at-home parents. However, they were not as yet prepared to make any proposals which would specifically benefit single income families. It is thought that they are still weighing the political benefits of appealing to such voters against the potential for alienating double income families.

Ms Burton said there was no doubt now that there was active discrimination in tax treatment.

"This discrimination was introduced to make work a more palatable choice. But this choice is not possible without the provision of many services at a community level - which the Government never had any intention of providing."

She claimed individualisation also ignored the reality that peoples' lives change more than once during their lifetimes "and that many of us will need or want to take time out at various stages." Read the entire talk
here (Scroll down to the individualisation section)

07/02/07

Marriage provides “moral geography” for society, says Archbishop

Married couples who stayed together are unsung “heroes” according to the head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

06/02/07
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Huge increase in divorce/separation applications since introduction of divorce

The number of applications for divorce and judicial separations has more than trebled since the introduction of divorce legislation exactly 10 years ago, according to official figures.

06/02/07
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Psychology meeting hears about effects of family breakdown

The College of Psychoanalysis debated the causes of social breakdown and crime during a meeting in the Irish Writer's Museum in Dublin on Saturday. A paper was presented by psychoanalyst and lecturer, Rob Weatherill which blamed psychoanalysis itself for many of the pathologies facing modern society, including family breakdown.

06/02/07
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Govt to propose five new provisions in Children rights referendum.

The Government plans to insert five new provisions in the Constitution aimed at strengthening children's rights and providing greater protection against child sexual abuse, according to reports.

01/02/07
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French politician faced prison over remarks about homosexuality

A French politician has been fined almost $4,000 under a French law against inciting hatred against minorities.

31/01/07
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Fatherlessness in Ecuador leads to sharp rise in youth suicide

A rise in the number of children living without their fathers has led to a sharp increase in youth suicide in Ecuador, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

30/01/07
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British Government imposing a "new morality" says Cardinal

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Archbishop of Westminister, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, has accused the Labour Government of imposing “a new morality”.

30/01/07
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No adoption exemption for Church agencies

UK Cabinet ministers have poured cold water over suggestions that Catholic Church adoption agencies might be exempted from new legislation requiring them to consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.

25/01/07
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Clear majority oppose lowering age of consent

An overwhelming majority of Irish people oppose a recent proposal to lower the age of consent for sexual activity to 16, according to a new opinion poll. The poll, published in the Sunday Tribune, showed that a massive 68 per cent of people are opposed to the proposal.

25/01/07
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Church leaders join forces to oppose gay adoption

Senior Church of England bishops last night added their weight to Catholic opposition to legislation requiring religious adoption agencies in Britain to consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents. The head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York said that "the rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning".

24/01/07
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Archbishop Martin cites Iona Institute poll.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has cited the recent Iona Institute poll on marriage and the family to back claims that many Europeans, the Irish included still back traditional values.

23/01/07
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"The child...shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents."

Article 7. UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.