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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 [email protected] and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.
The Department of Children has just released a report, Future Investment in Childcare in Ireland, suggesting different ways in day-care becomes more affordable for working parents. Some of the proposals, such as those to extend paid parental leave from six months after the birth of a child to a full year, are very welcome. But others are simply unfair, and the logic that undergirds the whole report too often puts the views of NGOs and the State on what is best for children above the wishes of parents.
"At first glance, Irish Catholics voting for same-sex marriage, British Muslims living according to sharia and French secularists chasing symbols of faith from the public sphere would seem to have little in common. Some seem to be drifting away from religion, others towards it. But according to a four-year study on religion in today’s Europe, these phenomena have a deeper link that goes beyond Catholicism, Islam or atheism. They all reflect the tensions that arise in secularised societies because of the contemporary disconnect between religion and culture." That's from an interview with Oliver Roy, a French academic and director of the EU-funded ReligioWest research project, recently published in the Tablet.
After the US Supreme Court legalised and constitutionalised same-sex marriage in all 50 states last week, there’s been a lot of talk about questions of religious freedom and freedom of conscience. How will dissenters from the new view of marriage fare in the new dispensation? Two pieces of writing, from UK Barrister Neil Addison and US journalist Jonathan Last, make for sobering reading - and their analyses are very relevant to Ireland's future.
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recently called for Ireland to have a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment and legislate for abortion in various circumstances, in order to bring Ireland into compliance international human rights law. A lot of the debate following has has been about this last point. Is Ireland in breach of international law? How should relevant treaties be interpreted? These discussions spectacularly miss the point. As a matter of principle, nobody should care what the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights says about abortion: and in fact, nobody really does.
Father’s Day is coming up this weekend (21/6) and this article from the Institute for Family Studies shows that a father is more likely to be involved with his children if he is married to the mother of his children. That means he is more likely to have a close relationship with his children.
What do mothers and fathers bring to parenting that is different and complementary? This was one important issue that came up in the recent marriage referendum. Many of those on the Yes side claimed all a child needs is love, but that the sex of the parents per se (and by logical extension the biological ties) are of little importance.
In a piece in The Irish Times today Laura Slattery basically calls for a total end to the debate about same-sex marriage. She quotes from an interview she did with Michael O'Keeffe, the BAI chief executive, a while ago, and says she “asked him whether same-sex marriage would still be regarded as the subject of current public debate if the referendum were passed. Could the No side continue to insist, citing the code, that expressions of equality must be countered by faith-fuelled pronouncements? O’Keeffe responded: “On the assumption that it is passed, then it’s a legal right. For me that should probably be the end of the matter as a matter of public debate.”
The Iona Institute helped to represent the almost 750,000 voters who voted against the redefinition of marriage and the family on May 22. No political party was willing to represent those voters. We will continue to argue for the importance of marriage in society and for the rights of religious believers in an increasingly secularised society. To keep informed about our activities please sign up to our free e-letter.
On the "Constitution Project" blog recently, Dr Conor O'Mahony of UCC Law Department, took issue with points made by Dr Tom Finegan of Mothers and Fathers Matter on the likely effects of the proposed referendum on future laws on adoption, surrogacy and donor-assisted human reproduction. Now, Dr Finegan responds to Dr O'Mahony's critique explaining why it ignores several key factors and fails to rebut the No side's legal analysis.
If we pass the marriage referendum as the Government wants it will have profound changes on how we view the family in our law. A major legal opinion commissioned by The Iona Institute examines this question. It shows that our ability to give preference to motherhood and fatherhood in Irish law will be severely and probably wholly undermined. The legal opinion is by Michael Collins SC and Paul Brady BL. The opinion examines the Constitution, and in particular Article 41, called ‘The Family’, in the light of various rulings by the Supreme Court.
"Heather Has Two Mommies" was a children's picture book published in 1989, about a child being raised by a lesbian couple. For Heather Barwick, this scenario was her life. Speaking at the recent interdisciplinary conference on marriage and the family, Heather told her story, saying that while she loves the women who raised her, that didn't take away her deep desire for a father.
David Quinn appeared on 'This Week' on RTE Radio One on Sunday to explain why he is voting No in the marriage referendum May 22. In particular David explained why the passage of the Children and Family Relationships Act has not taken the issue of children out of the marriage debate.
Former Justice Minister, Attorney General and PD member, Michael McDowell may dissent from liberal orthodoxies on matters of economics but he has always been reliably liberal on social issues and therefore it is no surprise that he is for same-sex marriage. But I’m not sure about his reasoning.
Tánaiste Joan Burton (pictured) has been telling a story recently. She recounted it at the end of her speech at the Labour Party Conference, and told the Irish language online magazine Tuairisc.ie too. Speaking in support of a Yes vote in the marriage referendum, Burton says that she was struck by one woman she met in Moneygall, Co Offaly, who said she wanted her son, who is gay, to "settle down". "This was an Irish mammy thing," she said. "
We know a moral viewpoint has hardened and slipped its moorings when it will brook no public dissent. The pro-same sex marriage viewpoint has reached that stage. Those who do not believe in same-sex marriage are to be treated by society as the moral equivalent of racists and under certain circumstances to be prosecuted by the law. We see this happening right now in Indiana
As the debate over same-sex marriage continues in the lead-up to Ireland's referendum on the question, the prospect of allowing a "conscience clause" has been thoroughly rejected by the Yes side. The US State of Indiana recently tried to pass a law that might give some prospect of protection to the likes of Asher's - and it's fair to say that supporters of same-sex marriage exploded.
David Quinn appeared on Morning Ireland, debating Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International about the introduction of a "conscience clause" protecting the freedom of conscience rights of bakers, printers, and other citizens who don't support same-sex marriage, in the event that the referendum was passed. It's an important and relevent debate to have, as the Asher's Bakery case in Northern Ireland is currently ongoing. In that case, a small family-run bakery was asked to bake a cake bearing the slogan "Support Gay Marriage" and then taken to court by Northern Ireland's equality commission when they refused.
Last night Archbishop Diarmuid Martin addressed a meeting of The Iona Institute attended by over 200 people. His topic was 'The Teaching of the Church on Marriage Today'. In the course of the talk he addressed the topic of the nature of marriage.
The two sides in this referendum debate, so far as I can see, don't just disagree. They disagree about what it is they're disagreeing about. Most of those I've seen arguing for a Yes vote sincerely believe that this is, wholly and solely, a debate about who should be able to get married.Unfortunately for the public, the media are (for the most part) accepting the Yes side’s framing of the issue. In a fairer debate, it'd be great to hear the Yes side, and those who fully support the Children and Family Relationships Bill (CFR Bill), being asked questions like this:
Elizabeth Howard, a woman from England who was conceived through sperm donation, was on the Right Hook programme on Newstalk yesterday. Howard, who wrote for the Guardian last year about the experience of being the child of an anonymous “donor”, made it clear to George Hook that she thought all sperm donation was unethical. “I don't think removing anonymity really helps” she said.
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