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Full text of Senator Martin Mansergh's article on religious freedom

Below is the full text of Senator Martin Mansergh's article on religious freedom. With kind permission of the Irish Catholic.

22/03/07
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Religious freedom under threat says Senator Mansergh

Elites “who want to reshape Irish society according to their lights with least possible reference to the people" are fundamentally threatening religious freedom in Ireland, according to prominent Senator, Martin Mansergh.

22/03/07
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UK social welfare benefits 'destroying family life' says new book

Couples who pretend to live apart can gain up to £10,000 a year in benefits, according to a new book published by UK think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. Written by sociologist and author Patricia Morgan, the book says that the scale of the fraud is the result of a Government policy which discourages couples from marrying or even cohabiting, dealing a "devastating blow" to family life.

21/03/07
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Greens welcome Iona policy on tax individualisation

The Green Party has welcomed The Iona Institute's new policy document calling for fairer treatment of one-income married couples in a statement released by Finance spokesman for the Greens, Dan Boyle TD. The Deputy said that a series of measures are needed to eliminate the anomalies.

20/03/07
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Fine Gael adopts 'Iona' tax policy

Fine Gael have pledged to begin easing the effects of tax individualisation if they are in Government after the General Election. Their plan involves increasing the stay-at-home carers tax credit, currently worth 770 euro pa, by 1000 euro pa. The proposal is in line with the tax policy document launched by the Iona Institute which called for the Government to begin closing the tax gap between double and single income married couples.

16/03/07
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Bishops favour delaying children's rights referendum

The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference have called for the Government's proposed referendum on children's rights to be postponed until after the General Election.

16/03/07
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First Iona Institute policy document launched

Stay-at-home mothers have been heavily penalised by the Government's ongoing tax individualisation policy, according to a new report published by the Iona Institute. The report says that the growing income gap, which now stands at up to €6,240 between single and double income married families should be an issue in the forthcoming election.

15/03/07
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An interview with Iona director David Quinn

Catholic news website Zenit has just published an interview with our director David Quinn on the reasons behind the establishment of the Iona Institute.

08/03/07
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Brother and sister challenge Germany's incest law.

A German brother and sister, who have four children together are campaigning to have their country's incest laws quashed.

07/03/07
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Irish Times article on gay adoption

The Irish Times yesterday printed an article by Iona Institute researcher Tom O'Gorman on gay adoption. Here is a link to the piece to enable readers to go online and engage in the debate. (Subscription required)

06/02/07
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Irish children more likely to binge drink and abuse drugs, study finds.

Irish children are more likely than those in other countries to abuse drugs and alcohol, a new Government-sponsored study on child well-being has found.

01/03/07
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Women twice as likely as men to file for divorce

New divorce statistics show that women are twice as likely to apply for divorce as men, a conference on family law was told on Tuesday.

28/02/07
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Blair rejects marriage-based cure for social ills.

Prime Minister Tony Blair today rejected calls to put marriage at the heart of social and family policy. Rejecting Conservative Party leader David Cameron's suggestion that family breakdown and fatherlessness were at the heart of Britain's social ills, Mr Blair said that anti-social problems were not limited to to fatherless families.

27/02/07
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UK marriage rates plummet

The number of new marriages in Britain has fallen to the lowest level in 111 years, according to new data which emerged last week. Latest figures reveal that the number of marriages has dropped by 30,000 between 2004 and 2005 to a total of just over 244,000.

27/02/07
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Aggressive secularism a “betrayal of republican traditions”: Taoiseach

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has praised organised religion as a force for good in Irish society. Speaking at the opening of an ongoing structured dialogue between the State and religious groups, the Taoiseach said that there was no place in Ireland for “aggressive secularism”.

27/02/07
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Text of Professor Binchy's Trinity address

The following is the most relevant section of Professor Binchy's talk as delivered at TCD on Wednesday evening.

22/02/07
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Effects of referendum “uncertain” says William Binchy

The wording of the Government's proposed children's rights referendum could have legal effects “well beyond those indicated by the Government” according to Professor William Binchy of Trinity College Dublin. Professor Binchy, an acknowledged authority on family and constitutional law, said the proposed wording “raises several important questions of interpretation”.

He said that the wording could leave it open to the Oireachtas to permit the adoption of a child who had been in care for only days or weeks, and even when the parents of the child were only temporarily unable to care for it.

He also said that the wording might permit the Courts to infringe on the rights of parents, especially young, poor or disabled parents, to a much greater degree than is currently possible under the Constitution.

In particular, he said this was the case in relation to Article 42(A), section 2.2 and 42(A), section 4 of the proposal. If legislation which simply achieved the purpose stated in the proposal was held to be valid, “a law which (for example) provided for the non-consensual adoption of children where the parents had failed in their duty for a short period – in theory a few weeks could suffice”, Professor Binchy maintained.

Furthermore, he noted that section 2.2 only requires a temporary failure of duty on the part of parents for their child to be adopted. He contrasted this with the provisions of the 1988 Adoption Act, which requires that any failure of duty on the part of the parents for the purposes of that child being adopted must “be likely to continue into the future”. He added that “non-consensual adoption based on failure of duty for reasons other than physical or moral” might be permitted.

Article 42 (A), section 2.4, he argued, contained equally radical implications. If courts had to secure the best interests of children in adoption, guardianship, custody or access cases, and did not need to have regard to the current constitutional rights of parents, “the conclusions which (they) would reach would be quite different from those which are arrived at under the present constitutional dispensation.”

This could lead to poor parents, very young parents or parents with disabilities finding it harder to to retain care of their children, Professor Binchy said.

The wording, he went on, was “capable of a very wide range of different interpretations”. No-one, Professor Binchy said, “can predict exactly how it would be applied in practice”. While he said that it would have some “welcome effects” in some circumstances, “how much further its impact would be is far from certain”. Rather than proceeding with the current wording, he suggested that the Government proceed with a vote on the more uncontroversial provisions of the current wording, sections 4 and 5, “and delay consideration of the other provisions pending clarification of their possible impact on the rights and welfare of children”.

22/02/07 [date] 22/02/07

Bishops to study children's rights amendment

The Catholic bishops are to examine the wording of the proposed children's rights amendment but will not issue a statement about it until after their March quarterly meeting at the earliest. A spokesman for the Bishops made the comment after the wording of the proposed amendment was announced on Monday.

21/02/07
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Fathers have key role in fighting crime, says Tory leader

A family friendly society is a key element in stamping out gang culture, according to Conservative Party leader David Cameron. He was reacting to the third fatal shooting in London in a month. Teenager Billy Cox was found dead from gunshot wounds on Wednesday.

10/02/07
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PDs should respect religious conviction - Tanaiste

The PDs should “honour and respect religious practice and conviction”, and be prepared to work with the Churches “as partners in social action”, Tanaiste Michael McDowell has said.

20/02/07
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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.