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Providing free nursery care to three-year-olds has only temporary effects on children's development and educational performance, with most of the advantages disappearing by the time a child reaches the age of 11, according to a new study. Research presented to the House of Lords by the Institute of Education and the universities of Surrey and Essex found the policy had a “small beneficial impact” on children at age five, but the size of the effect then declined as the children got older before disappearing, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Doctors and nurses in the UK who assist someone in taking their own lives will be less likely to face criminal charges after a change in prosecution guidelines, the Daily Telegraph reports. Until now all health care professionals faced a greater chance than others of being prosecuted for helping people to die because they were considered to be in a position of trust. But Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosectutions, changed the guidelines so that the extra deterrent would only apply to doctors "directly involved with a patient's care."
Egg and sperm donation should become “as obvious as blood donation”, the chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the UK, despite the thousands of donor-conceived children who believe they suffered a loss from not knowing their biological parents. The Daily Telegraph reports that Lisa Jardine said clinics should “improve their customer service”. "We think some patients in centres are not being encouraged that they might donate. We have some evidence, somewhat anecdotal, that donors are not particularly welcomed at clinics. Clinics are more and more busy and donors are [treated as] a sort of side issue."
Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, has said that he has no intention of reversing tax individualisation. This is despite opposing it when it was introduced by Charlie McCreevy in Budget 2000. Speaking on Today With Sean O'Rourke, Mr Noonan said in response to a caller's question that individualisation was now a key part of the tax system, and that he would not be repealing it. He also ignored a question from Sean O'Rourke about taking measures to lessen the burden of individualisation on families where one parent works in the home.
Catholic schools must be “robust, unapologetic, and committed to their mission”, the educational office of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said. The Catholic Schools Partnership's new document Catholic Education at Second-level in the Republic of Ireland: Looking to the Future, has also pointed out that religious and other voluntary secondary schools are under-funded compared to VEC and other schools.
French Socialist Prime Minister, Manuel Valls has said that surrogate motherhood “is and will be banned in France” because it is “an intolerable commercialisation of human beings and commodification of women’s bodies”. His promise was made as hundreds of thousands of people marched in Paris and Bordeaux last weekend calling on the French government to keep surrogacy illegal, to ban assisted human reproduction in cases where it would leave children without a father or a mother, and to protest “anti-family” cuts to child benefit payments and parental leave.
The organisers of the “One of Us” citizens' initiative are challenging the European Commission's rejection of the Initiative before the General Court of the European Union. The initiative, which called on the EU to stop financing embryonic stem cell research and other practices that destroy unborn life, garnered over 2 million signatures, but the European Commission decided not to refer it for debate in the European parliament because EU policy in this area had been “only recently discussed and decided.”
Third level institutions in Ireland are becoming increasing intolerant of those who “dissent from the prevailing liberal orthodoxy”, a former chaplain of University College Cork has warned. According to The Irish Catholic, Fr David Barrins expressed particular concerns about UCC, saying that “there is a growing intolerance in the Students Union and the student body to student views that are pro-life or Catholic.”
A white woman is suing a Chicago sperm bank after she claims she was mistakenly sent a black man's sperm, and gave birth to a mixed-race daughter. She claims that while she loves her now 2-year-old daughter, it is extremely difficult for her and her same-sex partner to raise her because of her “limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans.” According to the Chicago Tribune, Jennifer Cramblett, who lives in a small town in Ohio, is suing Midwest Sperm bank for wrongful birth and breach of warranty, citing the emotional and economic losses she has suffered.
The Chairman of the Catholic Schools Partnership (CSP) has warned that the Catholic Church in Ireland could mount a constitutional challenge to any attempt to strip schools of the right to defend their religious ethos. The Irish Catholic reports that Fr Michael Drumm, a leading figure in recent discussions over religious education, ethos and school patronage, said that any attempt to repeal Section 37 of the Employent Equality Act would be “unconstitutional.”
A new organisation called ‘Mothers and Fathers Matter’ was launched yesterday, with its Chairman saying that its purpose was to draw attention to the anti-child nature of the Children and Family Relationships Bill in its present form. Mothers and Fathers Matter Chairman, Professor Ray Kinsella of UCD, said: “We believe this legislation seriously undermines the rights of children. It is extraordinary that a Government, which professes to be pro-child, would seek to push legislation through the Dail that treats the natural tie, and by extension the complementarity of motherhood and fatherhood, in such a dismissive fashion.’’
The Court of Cassation, France's highest court of civil and criminal law, has ruled that same-sex couples can jointly adopt the biological children of one of the partners, even when they are conceived abroad through sperm donation. The court held that both partners should have joint parental rights to a child conceived through IVF "since the legal requirements for adoption are met and it is in the interest of the child."
Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, has scrapped a planned move to tighten Spain's abortion laws, abandoning a much-repeated campaign promise. Spain's Minister for Justice, Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, the proposal’s main proponent, resigned from politics after hearing about Mr Rajoy's reversal. “I believe it is my duty to resign with humility, recognising that I have not been able to turn the reversal law into law,” Gallardon said, according to InfoCatolica.
A state-funded ethics committee which advises the German government on social policy has recommended that laws criminalising incest be scrapped, the Telegraph reports. “Criminal law is not the appropriate means to preserve a social taboo,” the German Ethics Council said in a statement. “The fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighed more heavily than the abstract idea of protection of the family.”
The Minister for Education, Jan O'Sullivan is seeking to amend Rule 68, the regulation which allows primary schools to have their religious ethos integrated with the teaching of the other subjects. The Department of Education said that Minister O'Sullivan believes “the language and tone of Rule 68 is archaic and doesn't reflect the reality of today's primary educations sector.” However, she stopped short of calling for the deletion of the article, as called for by the Irish National Teacher's Organisation (INTO) and an advisory group to the 2012 Forum on Patronage and Pluralism.
A growing share of the American public (49 percent) believe churches and other religious groups should “express their views on day-to-day social and political issues”. This is up from a low of 40% in 2012. The poll from Pew Research also shows that nearly three-quarters of Americans think religion is losing influence in American life. Seventy-two percent said that they believed this to be so, up 5 percentage points from 2010 and 20 points from the first poll conducted in 2002.
A decision by Dundee University Students Association (DUSA) to ban the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) from setting up a pro-life stand at their fresher's fair has been attacked by a leading barrister specialising in religious freedom. A “fresher’s fair” is where various student bodies invite first year students to join their societies. According to the Catholic Herald, Neil Addison, National Director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said: “I hope SPUC sue DUSA and certainly if any student union in England or Wales attempts to copy DUSA, the Thomas More Legal Centre will not hesitate to take legal action against them.”
Tens of thousands of pro-life demonstration took place in Madrid at the weekend calling on the Spanish government to keep its pledge to pass more restrictive abortion laws, after rumours emerged that the conservative People's Party (PP) was planning to shelve its abortion bill. Last week, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was considering backing away from plans to tighten Spain's abortion laws in the aftermath of poor results for the PP in the European elections.
A convicted murderer and rapist is to be euthanised in Belgium at his own request, in the country's latest controversy related to assisted dying. The Irish Independent reports that Frank Van Den Bleeken, who has spent the last 30 years in prison for repeated convictions, has requested for three years that the state help him end his life due to what his lawyer called “unbearable psychic suffering”.
Pope Francis told the 20 couples that he married last week in St Peter's Basilica that “the reciprocity of difference” between men and women was an essential part of marriage. Marriage, he said, is about “man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man. “Here we see the reciprocity of differences,” he said.
One of America's largest Christian student organisations has been banned from operating as a recognised student body in California State Universities because it wants its leaders to be Christian. Intervarsity Christian Fellowship has chapters in over 600 American universities, but were “derecognised” by the California State University system (CSU) after a new anti-discrimination policy required that organisations allow people of all faiths and none to stand for leadership positions. Intervarsity said that while anyone was welcome anyone to participate in their activities, including nonbelievers, seekers and adherents of other faiths, the status of their organisation as a Christian ministry required their leaders to profess the Christian faith.
A pro-life healthcare provider is planning to open a centre in Belfast, in close proximity to the Marie Stopes abortion clinic, the BBC reports. Stanton Healthcare, which describes itself as "a revolutionary organisation that seeks to replace abortion businesses around the world" aims to open a clinic in Belfast's Victoria Street by 2015.
The fact that nine staff members who treated Savita Halappanavar before her death at Galway University Hospital have been disciplined shows that the case “was misused, massively and continuously, by major players in politics and media who were more concerned with getting abortion legislation over the line than accurate reporting”, the Pro-Life Campaign has said. Cora Sherlock of the Pro-Life Campaign said the news “confirms that this tragic case was never about the non-availability of abortion in Ireland at the time but the mismanagement surrounding Savita’s care.” The Health Service Executive confirmed today that nine members of staff had been disciplined because of failures in their treatment of Mrs Halappanavar.
The United States is increasingly enforcing a “state religion” based on socially liberal values, the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, said this week. He added that Catholics would end up “limiting (their) access to positions of prestige and power in society” if they held to their values. Writing in his regular column, Cardinal George wrote that American Catholics now faced a “crisis of belief” between loyalty to their country on the one hand and their faith on the other.
Plans by the Scottish government to assign a state guardian to every child in the country have been criticised by a number of prominent figures, including sociologists, Members of the Scottish Parliament and charities. An editorial in the Scottish Daily Express said that the plans constitute a “gross interference” in family life. Scotland's SNP government is attempting to introduce what it calls the “Named Person initiative” which will see a state guardian assigned to every child between birth and 18-years-old. They will be able to share information with a wide range of public authorities and in some cases may intervene without parental consent.
A new study from the UK's Department for Education shows that growing up with married parents tends to make children more confident, kind and responsible while showing lower levels of anti-social attitudes and hyperactivity. The analysis of 3,000 children from the early years to the age of 16, found a “small but significant tendency” towards poorer behaviour management among children from single-parent families and those brought up by unmarried mothers and fathers.
Ireland's two biggest organisations representing Muslims have said that that they “see no need for neither an ‘Upheaval’ nor a ‘Revolution’ in the Irish education system”, and that Catholic schools were “very accommodating” to Muslim students, the Irish Times reports. In a statement, the Islamic Foundation of Ireland (IFI) and the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland (ICCI) singled out Catholic schools for praise, saying that “Catholic school managements have made wonderful efforts to make their schools as inclusive as possible without losing their own ethos.”
An Australian man who fathered twin girls with a Thai surrogate mother has been charged with sexually abusing the children. The Irish Independent reports that the man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was charged in an Australian court last year with indecent dealings of a sexual nature with the children. The case puts further pressure on Thailand's surrogacy regime, which the government is currently in the process of drastically tightening.
A prominent spokesperson for the Muslim community in Ireland has called for radical changes to be made to the education system. The Irish Times reports that Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic Cultural Centre (affliated with the Clonskeagh Mosque) has called in a new book for reform of school admissions policies, as well as latitude for Muslim values to be reflected in the teaching of PE, relationship and sexuality education, and music classes.
A marriage registrar in the UK who was sacked for refusing to conduct same-sex weddings has been reinstated after a successful appeal. Margaret Jones, 54, who had been dismissed for “bringing the council into disrepute”, was offered her job back after an appeal hearing ruled that her employer had failed to take a “balanced view” of her religious beliefs.
Theresa May, the UK's Home Secretary, has said the government will begin an investigation into “institutionalised political correctness” after the Rotherham child abuse scandal. The Daily Telegraph reports that Mrs May was responding to the publication of a report last week by Prof. Alexis Jay which found that more than 1,400 children in the northern English town were abused across a period of 16 years by gangs of predominantly Pakistani men.
A Dutch euthanasia clinic is being investigated for ending a woman's life because she did not want to live in a nursing home, with the euthanasia monitoring committee saying that the clinic did not observe the formal guidelines. Prosecutors in the Netherlands are currently deciding whether to proceed with a case against the Levenseindekliniek (End of Life Clinic). There have as yet been no prosecutions for violating the guidelines on euthanasia since it was legalised in 2002.
Ultra-militants from the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) have launched “a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing” in Northern Iraq, according to a new report from Amnesty International. The report, collating evidence gathered over the last few months as IS expanded its influence in the region, says that the militants have been carrying out war crimes including mass killings and abductions against religious minorities including Christians and Yezidis.
A British surrogate mother of twins is raising one of them after the comissioning mother rejected her for being disabled. The mother, also British, took the healthy boy but refused to accept his twin sister because of her severe muscular condition Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, the Sun reported. The surrogate mother, referred to as “Jenny” alleges that the comissioning mother referred to the baby as a “dribbling cabbage.”
A senior academic and member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has criticised a National Union of Journalists statement on balance in coverage of current affairs. Colum Kenny, Professor of Communications at DCU, said that the NUJ's criticism of the BAI over their decision to uphold a complaint over an unbalanced discussion of same-sex marriage on RTE Radio 1's 'Mooney' show was “misleading.” “The union went wild on Mooney” he said.
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