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Government to review hijab policy

The Government is to consider whether or not to issue guidelines to schools regarding whether or the wearing of a ‘hijab’, or headscarf, by Muslim school-girls can be permitted.

20/05/08
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UN chief affirms the importance of fathers

The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, has affirmed the importance of fathers in the lives of children. He made the comment as the UN celebrated its International Day of Families yesterday.

16/05/08
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Threat to religious symbols as SF Minister follows English schools' policy

Students' freedom to wear religious symbols such as crucifixes in Northern Ireland could be curtailed after Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitriona Ruane revealed that she was considering following English policy which bans displays of such symbols from schools.

09/05/08
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Nearly one fifth of US fathers have children with more than one woman: study

Almost one in five, 17 per cent, of US fathers aged 16-45 have had children with more than one woman, according to a newly published study from Child Trends, an American think tank. The study identifies factors associated with men who have children with multiple women, referred to as "multiple-partner fertility".

07/05/08
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Minister threatens to ban policies preferring past pupils, siblings

Minister for Education Mary Hanafin has said she might ban school admission policies that give preference to past pupils and siblings could be banned. Speaking at last week's conference of Catholic secondary school managers, she suggested that such policies might be being used to exclude special needs and newcomer pupils.

07/05/08
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Primate warns giving marriage like rights to other family forms undermines marriage

The Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, has warned the Government that granting marriage like rights to other family forms undermines marriage, which he called a “fundamental building block of our society”.

07/05/08
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Marriage set to decline further by 2021, CSO predicts

The decline in marriage among women aged between 25-34 is set to continue between now and 2021, according to projections from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The figures, contained in the CSO's Population and Labour Force Projections, 2011-2041, suggest that the marriage rate among women aged between 25 and 29 is likely to decline from just over 23 per cent in 2006 to 20 per cent in 2021.

02/05/08
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EU pursuing agenda of “moral regulation”: report

The European Union (EU) is overstepping its mandate by pursing a regime of “moral regulation”, according to a recently published research paper . The paper argues that, by funding controversial social policy initiatives on the family and the beginning and end-of-life issues, the EU is intruding on the jurisdiction over moral matters.

02/05/08
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Parental choice “crucial consideration”, says Catholic schools' head

Protecting parental choice needs to be a key part of school policy going forward, according to the head of the body representing Catholic secondary schools. Ferdia Kelly, the general secretary of the Association of Management of Catholic Secondary Schools (AMCSS), made the comments before the start of the association's annual conference this week.

01/05/08
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Abstinence education “crucial to well being of youth”: report

Abstinence education is "crucial to the physical and psycho-emotional well-being of the nation's youth," according to a recent report by US think tank the Heritage Foundation.

30/04/08
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Burden sisters lose battle for tax status in European court

Two elderly sisters battling to avoid huge tax liabilities in the event of either one dying described a European court ruling denying their appeal as amounting to “persecution”. Joyce and Sybil Burden, aged 90 and 82 respectively, have lived together in Wiltshire all their lives and have been seeking to avoid inheritance tax when one of them dies.

30/04/08
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Majority of Italians ignorant about Bible

A majority of Italians do not know basic facts about the Bible, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted by Eurisko for the Catholic Biblical Federation, showed that only 14 per cent of Italians could answer a series of questions about the Bible correctly. The survey, which mirrors similar polls carried out in Ireland by the Iona Institute, shows that levels of religious knowledge are similarly low in the country which is the home of the Catholic Church.

29/04/08
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Catholic schools vindicated by Government audit

Catholic primary schools top the table for social inclusion, according to new Government figures published yesterday. The figures, contained in an audit of schools' enrolment policies, showed that Catholic primary schools were more likely to enrol children from the traveller community, from non-Irish backgrounds and children with special needs than other denominational and multidenominational schools.

29/04/08
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Cohabiting couples in UK must divide property when they split, says ruling

Cohabiting couples in the UK who share a home face the prospect of having to divide the proceeds equally in the event of a split, just as a married couple would, according to a ruling yesterday in the Court of Appeals. The judgment sets out new rules for the four million unmarried couples who invest their savings in property.

24/04/08
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Charter could supercede Supreme Court, says leading lawyer

The Supreme Court's role could be eclipsed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, according to leading constitutional lawyer, Gerard Hogan SC. And this could extend to laws relating to marriage and family. The Charter of Fundamental Rights will become enforceable under the proposed Lisbon Treaty.

24/04/08
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“Growing hesitation” to speak on faith “irritates” Taoiseach

Outgoing Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has spoken of his frustration at a growing hesitation to refer to issues of faith and belief in public debate. At a reception on Tuesday evening for churches and faith communities involved in the Structured Dialogue between them and the State, which Mr Ahern launched last February, he said this hesitation "upsets me and irritates me".

24/04/08
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Statutory rape law set for challenge in High Court

A High Court challenge to the statutory rape law is to be made by a teenage boy on the grounds it discriminates against him because he is male. The 17-year-old from Donegal has been charged with the statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl on August 5, 2006, when he was aged 15.

A case will now go to the High Court where it will be claimed the boy is the victim of discrimination, as the law he is charged under unfairly grants the girl immunity from prosecution despite having had sex with him.

The Government will need to demonstrate the justification for the discriminatory protection granted to underage girls to the High Court. The relevant clause was introduced in the emergency criminal justice act passed in June 2006 to plug the loophole identified by the Mr C case.

In that case, a man had his conviction overturned because he was not allowed to defend himself on the grounds he made an honest mistake about the girl’s age — this led to the temporary release of other confessed paedophiles.

Since then a series of calls to change the clause from victims groups, legal experts, the Ombudsman for Children and the joint Oireachtas committee on child protection have been rejected by the Government. It maintains that it can justify the discrimination. This assertion will now be put to the test by the Donegal teenager.

His lawyers will specifically challenge the statutory rape law, which differs from other sexual offences because it creates the crime of having sex with a person before they reach the age of consent — even if they were a willing partner.

The team will argue that, among other issues, the 2006 act breaches article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits gender discrimination. The 17-year-old has already been charged at a district court in Donegal and has been sent to trial at the Circuit Criminal Court.

This has yet to take place and the High Court action will seek an order delaying the trial until his challenge is decided. The teenager is accused of having sexual intercourse with a girl who was under the age of consent on August 5, 2006.

The teenager’s legal team is also planning to argue his prosecution breaches article 8 of the European Convention as it denies his right to a private life.

23/04/08

Family grocery bill soars as food shortages cause record food inflation

The annual grocery bill for families in the UK has grown by almost £800 as food inflation hit its highest level in a generation driving up supermarket prices, according to research published on Tuesday. A basket of 24 basic items such as tea bags, milk, cornflakes and pasta sauce at the three biggest stores has seen an increase in price of 15 per cent in the past year.

23/04/08
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Alcohol abuse “burden on society” says HSE report

Rising consumption of alcohol is linked to 46 per cent of murders, 36.5 per cent of fatal crashes, 28 per cent of A&E cases and 25 per cent of domestic abuse cases, according to a report published yesterday by the HSE.

22/04/08
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Leading FG TD warns that civil unions “must not erode marriage”

A leading Fine Gael TD has said she would be “very concerned” if proposed legislation to allow for same sex civil unions gave such couples rights similar to those enjoyed by married couples. Dublin South East deputy Lucinda Creighton told the Irish Catholic that she would not support “the conferral of equivalent rights to civil partnerships as currently pertain to marriage”, although she does support the conferring of such rights as next-of-kin and maintenance.

17/04/08
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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.