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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

References in the current proposed wording which mention parents having "the primary duty" to vindicate "the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child" will be dropped. It is also thought that the Government will strengthen another section to ensure that judges place the rights of children first when they are dealing with private custody cases.

The news came as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern insisted that he would not hold the referendum before a general election if he could not get cross-party agreement."If it is not possible to get broad political agreement, then we will leave it until later," he told Labour Party leader, Pat Rabbitte. He also said that he did not want to hold a plebiscite on the same day as a referendum.

However he stressed that the Oireachtas would have to deal with strengthening children's rights sooner rather than later. And he accepted that he would be prepared to consider holding the referendum on the same day as a General Election if that was the compromise that was agreed with other parties.

A proposed wording drawn up by the Minister of State for Children, Brian Lenihan, and the Attorney General, Rory Brady was discussed by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Further work will be carried out this week before the text goes back to the Cabinet. It will then be shown to the Opposition and subsequently published.

Though broadly supportive of the referendum plan, the Opposition has expressed fresh concern at the limited timeframe available to debate any proposed changes.

Fine Gael's justice spokesman, Jim O'Keeffe, said: "As every day goes by, the timetable gets tighter and tighter. I still haven't been given sight of a wording." Labour also warned against a rushed referendum, while the Green Party expressed unease over the lack of any express rights for children.

Most Opposition parties also signalled they would not be in favour of holding the referendum on the same day as the general election.

However, Sinn Féin, which is also supportive of the children's rights poll, says a referendum on election day would maximise turnout and save costs.


Tax individualisation “unfair”, say Labour and Fine Gael

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.