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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.

Launched to day by Labour Finance Spokesperson Joan Burton TD, it showed that single-income couples with children and two-income couples on the same income will pay €6,240 more in tax each year than two-income married couples on the same income as a result of successive Budgets, including Budget 2007.

The report, written by barrister John P Byrne, illustrates that the gap has now more than doubled since tax individualisation was announced by the then Finance Minister, Charlie McCreevy, to great controversy at the end of 1999.

Launching the document Deputy Burton said that the Government must stop widening the gap between one-income and two-income married couples and should increase the current Home Carers Credit from €770 pa to €1760 pa. The policy would cost €100 million and would benefit the 307,000 one-income married couples in the country.

A recent opinion poll conducted on behalf of The Iona Institute by Lansdowne Market Research found that 80pc of the public wants taxation reduced for families with children.

The pressure of commuting and creche costs, Deputy Burton said, meant that many women wanted to take time out of the work force to raise their children when they were small. But the current policy did not allow them to take this option, she continued.

She added: “The policy of individualisation has led to dramatic transfers from families with children to two income households, many without dependents, the so-called 'dinkys' (double-income, no kids). The consequence of individualisation is to introduce a significant and growing bias against families with children where one spouse chooses to stay at home and care for children.”

The report condemns individualisation as a form of 'social engineering' aimed at forcing as many women as possible into the workforce regardless of their own individual preference. It says the State should not favour paid employment over work in the home or vice versa.

It says: “One-income married couples and two-income married couples should be treated on the same basis for tax purposes. This should be done in the most equitable way possible and in that sense should not impact negatively on two-income married couples. If equalisation of the effect of the tax bands cannot be achieved in one budget, then it should be accomplished over a number of budgets.”

It continues by pointing out that the Home Carer Credit, worth €770 pa, introduced as a result of the controversy caused by tax individualisation in 1999, has not been increased since Budget 2000. The Credit applies to all married one-income couples and is aimed at the spouse who works in the home caring for a child or other dependent.

15/03/07

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”.

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