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Reasonable chastisement? I thought this was already banned… May 28, 2015

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From RTÉ

Minister for Children James Reilly has said officials from his department have started talks with the Department of Justice and Equality on removing the defence of “reasonable chastisement”.

He said child safety is everybody’s responsibility and he would like to see the options available for removing the defence of “reasonable chastisement”, before legislation is considered for a ban on parents smacking children.

The conservative right and the working class. May 28, 2015

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It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it. The last week I hovered around Politics.ie checking out broad sentiment. Got to say it was so adrift of the results on the part of some on the socially conservative right that one would perhaps hope some commenters there whose belief in their supposed hot line to the psyche of the Irish people being the last word might think again. Unlikely to happen though.

That said what was very revealing was the way some in that cohort sought to drag the working class into the frame as a touchstone of sensible conservatism. The line was usually that working class areas wouldn’t support the proposals or that TDs didn’t canvass those areas or make statements because they knew that their working class constituents weren’t four square behind the measures.

I also think there’s an echo of this in Breda O’Brien’s article this week where she complained about hypocrisy in relation to certain public services not being funded sufficiently when the marriage equality referendum was going through. As with that the broader interests of the working class get little airing in the generality of discussion from these sources.

And as we’ve seen, the assumption at its heart is rendered absurd by the results. Jane Suiter noted as much in a very useful piece on the respective campaigns of YES and NO in the Irish Times.

The strength of the Yes vote in traditional working class areas was also notable. So what mobilised this vote? A first hunch is that it was a direct appeal from “people like me” asking for support. Yes canvassers were a hugely mixed bunch, young and old, but crucially were local to each area. One campaigner in Simmonscourt on Saturday had knocked on almost every door in his local area of Darndale, for example.

I think a lot of it also came from the following dynamic she notes:

The No posters, on the other hand, engaged in negative campaign tactics, using messages about children that had been found to work in Croatia and Slovenia. In fact it is possible these posters and messages had a negative impact leading to thousands of donations to Yes Equality and a building of resentment in many communities who felt their families were being disrespected.

But in any event the list of constituencies that have large working class populations and that came in as top YES constituencies was notable. Dublin North, Dublin Central, Dublin South Central, Dublin South West, Dublin West, Dublin North West, and on and on. If the working class had any hesitations about what camp it was in it surely didn’t demonstrate them on Friday last. Evidence on a granular level confirms this. It was the leafier older, more wealthy environs which could be more hesitant.

Now let’s note that there can be – shall we say – exaggerated attitudes as regards the working class in other quarters too. Sometimes this is reductive, an argument that the class is only interested in economic issues – despite considerable evidence, and not just from this referendum, to the contrary. Sometimes this can be proscriptive, that the class should only be interested in such issues, and that other issues are a diversion or are only the interest of the middle class. But, that’s a minority flavour on the left.

But what is it that feeds this attitude about the working class on the right? It is the idea that it is a repository of authenticity and legitimacy, that its values are – ironically – meant to be near indistinguishable from the conservative social (and at times economic and political) values held by those making the case. It’s a sort of gross sentimentalisation/projection – an attitude that the working class isn’t radical, isn’t, for want of a better word, open. Or is it a belief that somehow the working class sits aside from modernity, that it is sceptical of such things.

All these things are true in part, as they tend to be about most groups in society, but clearly not true as regards the totality. That’s one outcome from this referendum which is particularly useful to remember.

Going… going… May 27, 2015

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…a busy day at the Dáil, to put it mildly, with Aer Lingus, going… going…not quite gone. Certainly a process that seems remarkably speedy as was noted in the chamber. Hard too to feel sanguine about the assurances that are being offered…

IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh said he understands Ireland’s protection and loyalty to Aer Lingus, but IAG’s deal would be a “growth story” for the airline.

And:

He stressed that Aer Lingus will remain an Irish airline and will be managed at the headquarters in Dublin.

That of course would be this IAG which does appear at the least to raise certain contradictions.

As always the question is why sell the remaining 25% share? Who benefits and who loses?

Meanwhile, also in the chamber:

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton has criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny after he said Independent TD Clare Daly had delivered a “rant” in the Dáil.
“I really think that the Taoiseach certainly does not do himself any justice by speaking to any member of parliament in that way,” Ms Creighton said.

An Phoblacht out now, including… May 27, 2015

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An Phoblacht out now, including…

  • Tories provoke crisis: Westminster cuts clash – ‘We need to stand up for the people who elect us’ – Martin McGuinness
  • Marriage Equality – Big ‘Yes’ in the South . . . Time for the North
  • Novelist Danny Morrison – The Armalite and the Writing Paper
  • Carlow/Kilkenny by-election – Sinn Féin the big story
  • Aer Lingus sale a bad deal for Ireland
  • Spotlight on Britain’s undercover war in Ireland
  • Tuarascáil Cháinteach Eisithe ag an gCoimisinéar Teanga – Ach Céard a dhéanfaidh lucht na Gaeilge faoi?
  • Building an Alternative – Siobhán O’Donoghue of Uplift on the importance of people-powered campaigns
  • Renua – Who’s behind Ireland’s newest political party?
  • Kurds fight for freedom against genocidal ISIS
  • The murder of Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison

Archbishop Martin raises an inconvenient truth…and other clergy are aware of it. May 27, 2015

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I thought Archbishop Martin’s words on Saturday were most striking carrying,
as they did, an implicit criticism of his own ‘side’ – so to speak.

He said the referendum result was “an overwhelming vote in one direction” and he appreciated how gay men and lesbian women felt after the endorsement of same-sex marriage – “that they feel this is something which is enriching the way they live”, he said.

“I think really that the church needs to do a reality check, a reality check right across the board, to look at the things it’s doing well, to look at the areas where we really have to start and say, ‘Look, have we drifted away completely from young people?’ ” he told RTÉ News.

And:

“I think it’s a social revolution… It’s a social revolution that didn’t begin today,” he said. “It’s a social revolution that’s been going on, and perhaps in the church people have not been as clear in understanding what that involved.

I think he’s right, and then there’s what he doesn’t mention – perhaps understandably. The legitimacy of the Church has been undercut by that history that we all know of. Once I thought it might take a generation for it to be able to claw back lost ground. Now I’m of the opinion that it almost certainly won’t in any foreseeable timescale.

“It’s very clear that if this referendum is an affirmation of the views of young people, then the church has a huge task in front of it to find the language to be able to talk to and to get its message across to young people, not just on this issue, but in general.”
Dr Martin said it was important that the church must not move into denial of the realities. “We won’t begin again with a sense of renewal by simply denying,” he said.

And here’s a very sensible point and one that those on the socially conservative right should consider carefully:

Most of these young people who voted Yes are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years,” he said. “There’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church…We need to sit down and say ‘are we reaching out at all to young people?’ … We’re becoming a church of the like-minded, and a sort of a safe space for the like-minded,” he said.

The problem is that this isn’t a referendum likely to be run any time soon (by the by, the push by Breda O’Brien and others on surrogacy is fascinating to watch, but hard to believe it will have much impact. There was little appetite for it to begin with), and on social issues the RCC keeps getting pushed back.

Indeed this has been the pattern for, what, over two decades or so. Moreover a tranche of young voters are clearly so far beyond the purchase of the Church that it is utterly irrelevant in their lives. One could even, very tentatively argue that there’s only, at this point, one very significant item on the social front remaining – though on the other hand it’s not impossible to see a push on the economic rights of the disabled and other groups being strengthened.

And an abortion referendum, though at this point it is difficult to discern the constellation of forces in the Oireachtas or in the next one that would allow that through, is a whole different ballgame.

Nor would that won or lost (depending upon perspective) fundamentally alter the current status quo of divorce, marriage equality, etc, etc. Nor is there any serious push back on those fronts likely – it was very telling how IONA et al had had to settle with civil partnership as a reality. Ain’t no going back, not now.

And oddly, just as the problem with the ‘youth’ vote is that it is fragmented and has coalesced in part around this one issue and is unlikely to do so again, well, much the same is probably true of those who take the NO side.

Indeed although some have tried to suggest the NO side being – what, 37% or so – an unrepresented constituency, the problem is that that’s just on this issue. I’d be very surprised if divorce was run again as a referendum that support for it would be lower than 70%. And likewise with many many other measures. Yes, there are those who take to a socially conservative view on various issues, but in varying degrees. They overlap on some of them, but not on others. Mattie McGrath – and others – may find it possible to pull together some support from some of them, but not all, and likewise with others. That said it is possible that that works just perfectly for him and them. As was noted earlier in the week one glaring problem for the NO side was the sheer lack of numbers working for them on the ground. This suggests a remarkably passive group – and riffing on my thoughts earlier about how they no longer have FF or the Church to sub-contract out to it does make one wonder about how supine they were in the past. Was it a case of agreement with, but unwillingness to get one’s hands dirty at the hard end of political engagement on the part of many with those views?

Another thought. It is extremely telling to me that the one right of FG/FF party we have seen that gained any serious support was one that was actually socially liberal. Simply put while the electorate unquestionably can be on occasion economically and socially conservative, again, its needs have been well met by FF and FG. It simply hasn’t needed a party entirely focused on social conservatism. And to start one now would be an exercise in futility given that it remains well serviced by those other parties in the totality.

His own solution doesn’t sound so much like a solution as an aspiration:

“That doesn’t mean that we renounce our teaching on fundamental values on marriage and the family. Nor does it mean that we dig into the trenches.
“We need to find…a new language which is fundamentally ours, that speaks to, is understood and becomes appreciated by others.”

And:

Dr Martin added that “we tend to think in black and white but most of us live in the area of grey, and if the church has a harsh teaching, it seems to be condemning those who are not in line with it.
“But all of us live in the grey area. All of us fail. All of us are intolerant. All of us make mistakes. All of us sin and all of us pick ourselves up again with the help of that institution which should be there to do that.
“The church’s teaching, if it isn’t expressed in terms of love – then it’s got it wrong,” he said.

But does that work, and if so how?

Add in the Association of Catholic Priests latest comments, and they represent around a third of priests and there’s no end of remarkable stuff flowing from this referendum:

ACP co-founder, Fr Tony Flannery, said “the day of doctrinaire Catholicism is over in this country. The people are no longer willing to listen to speeches and sermons on morality from the church.”
What was “ particularly sad was to see the bishops in total opposition to a mass movement of the younger generation”.

“The very people whom the church should be trying to listen to, and trying to learn a way of communicating effectively with, were the ones they were driving further away with all their pastorals in each diocese,” he said.
He also felt Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin “allowed himself to be bullied by the extreme conservative Catholic papers into adopting the same rigid line as the other bishops”.

Fascinating in itself but what of this from other ACP reps…

Another member of the ACP leadership team, Fr Gerry O’Connor said “the result went as I expected. I really see it as legislation catching up with people’s lives.” He felt “the Irish people should be proud”.

Or this:

Augustinian priest Fr Iggy O’Donovan said one positive was that “of all the moral referendums we’ve had it was the most reasoned, with pretty civilised debates”.

He was “absolutely delighted” with the referendum result.

Amazing stuff really.

‘The North Began? Ulster and the Irish Revolution, 1900-25’ – Symposium May 27, 2015

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CONFERENCE

Public symposium entitled
‘The North Began? Ulster and the Irish Revolution, 1900-25’.
The symposium is hosted by the Centre for Contemporary Irish History, Trinity
College Dublin, and St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.
It will take place on Saturday 20th June at the J.M. Synge Theatre, Arts Building,
Trinity College Dublin.

What you want to say – 27th May 2015 May 27, 2015

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As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free. No end of topics to choose from… been one of those weeks…

And so it begins… but what exactly? May 27, 2015

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I was intrigued to see both SF and the SDLP had rejected the welfare ‘reform’ bill. Is it my imagination or is that a change in tack by the SDLP. It’s not a change of tack on welfare where the SDLP has been consistently opposed.

Who would seriously disagree with Martin McGuinness when he says:

“The crisis we are facing is not of the making of the parties in the Executive.

“It has been created by the austerity cuts agenda of a Tory administration in London, which is attempting to decimate our public services and punish the most vulnerable people in society.”

And:

“If a choice has to be made to stand side by side with the Tories or stand up for the people here, for our economy or public services, I know what side Sinn Féin will be on.”

I see the Green Party also signed the petition of concern with the SDLP and SF.

But where does this go?

Meanwhile, a thought. This didn’t make the front page of the Irish Times on the web tonight – whereas it was the third item on the RTÉ website. Interesting set of priorities.

“It would have happened anyway”… May 26, 2015

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Well, some people aren’t happy with the referendum result, and no mistake. In the Irish Times who was it that was straight out with a crie-de-couer for those who had voted No. Why Breda O’Brien! What was interesting was that all the carefully rehearsed arguments were put forth again… not least this old chestnut… but the tone. Well, the tone…

We have damaged irreparably the connection between marriage and a child’s right to know and be cared for by the two people who each give them half of their biological, social and familial identity.
Sure, reproductive technologies are used anyway, but before May 22nd, no one could say that the Irish people voted to affirm in our Constitution something that inevitably separates children from half their genetic heritage and one half of their relations.

Note that ‘sure, reproductive technologies are used anyway…’. The affirmation – and she is well aware of this is about marriage equality, not reproductive technology. The situation stands as it has. She could – of course be lobbying against reproductive technology, though it will be educative to see which procedures she believes are anathema. But that remains a different issue.

Then we are treated to this:

Some day, there will be a young Irish woman wandering the streets of Copenhagen. She will have been raised by her lesbian mother and her partner, both of whom she loves dearly, and who are great mothers.
But she also has a deep longing to know the other half of herself, her father, and simple things like whether she got her love for music or the shape of her hands from him. All she knows is her father was a Danish sperm donor. She has no idea how many half-siblings she has. She is in contact online with other sperm donor children, some of whom have 150 half-siblings.
Her father’s address, given when he sold his sperm, is long out of date. So she wanders, looking at Danish faces, wondering, is that man my sperm donor father? Could that be a half-sibling?

And then… she cuts to the chase.

It would have happened anyway, regardless of the amendment. But she also has to deal with the crushing fact that in 2015, her fellow Irish citizens voted for it and affirmed this arrangement that deprived her of half her identity. They voted that it was natural, primary and fundamental, and enshrined it into the Constitution.

I think the above paragraph is both offensive and deeply misleading. She knows this ‘would have happened anyway’. She knows that whether a same-sex couple or not a same-sex couple go down the route of donor egg or sperm is entirely immaterial in relation to same sex marriage. And yet somehow she cannot resist making this about same sex marriage. I think that tells us quite a lot.

We are also told that somehow some great injustice has occurred because:

We do not have to admire a political system that ignored 734,300 voters, aside from six brave TDs and Senators who dared to be different.

But as noted on Monday that’s not so strange given that the formations to which she belongs or which she gives support could not themselves motivate anything but very small numbers out to actively campaign on their own side (and for all the complaints from the NO side Averil Power’s thoughts on YES inclined FF TDs keeping quiet for fear of ‘losing votes’ suggests an entirely contradictory dynamic in play). In that they have no one to blame but themselves and what appears to be a broad enough societal acceptance in regard to marriage equality. Of course, given that, the numbers of TDs or Senators who took the opposing view would be low. It is indeed what Miriam Lord – and God knows I’m quoting unlikely people this week – suggested was the shy Yes vote.

Then we get her now customary tilt to the left. I’m always fascinated by this because it is essentially a rhetorical tilt. I really don’t want to play the woman rather than the ball, so I will make no comment other than to say that faced with the weight of economic as well as social conservatism that those in IONA appear to represent from their public pronouncements it is difficult to take entirely seriously such language.

We do not have to admire a Government who relentlessly framed this so it was always going to be a battle between the heart and the head. We do not have to admire Government Ministers who talked about damaging the gay people’s mental health if we voted No.
The same Government presided over the disintegration of mental health services – everything from removing guidance counsellors from school, often the first to pick up serious problems – to decimating the psychiatric services. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Yes. There’s a hypocrisy there. But this isn’t quite the killer argument that she appears to think it is. The hypocrisy isn’t one that overwhelms the reality that the introduction of Marriage Equality is a progressive move, or that should per se have stalled or stopped that introduction. There’s hypocrisies all over. If abortion is introduced it will be an hypocrisy that other injustices exist in relation to children or babies but it won’t be one that per se undermines the introduction of abortion, any more than the lack of services in relation to family, etc, when divorce was introduced meant that that undermined the measure to the extent it should have been withdrawn.

Finally what of this:

We do not have to admire the fact that the campaign may have lasted weeks, but the soft coverage of gay icons and celebrities and “human interest” stories pushing the Yes side have been going on for years, with the enthusiastic collusion of the media.

This I think I find almost the most pernicious line in an article which is borderline offensive in many ways. What does she want? No coverage of ‘gay icons’. Hard coverage of same? In what way and why? I suspect I cannot put it better than this tweet here. I fear that we just got a glimpse into an underlying attitude that is for the most part kept well out of sight.

The coalition deals behind the marriage equality referendum… May 26, 2015

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Fascinating to read Pat Leahy and Michael Brennan in the SBP on the referendum campaign backroom dynamics. And even more fascinating to read him speak of the deal that paved the way for the referendum. Those who noted Labour’s support for the Seanad abolition referendum may have been somewhat puzzled both by its somewhat laid back engagement. But no surprise at all when one learns that it was the price of Fine Gael support for the marriage equality referendum.

Though they never knew it, the poor old senators were the price of the same-sex marriage referendum. Fine Gael needed to make good on its promise of a referendum to abolish the Seanad, a hasty promise made by Enda Kenny when he was under pressure in opposition. A bold political reform, they called it, showing that the political system was taking some of the pain that ordinary people were feeling because of the economic crisis. Labour was interested in a different kind of reform. If the Seanad’s neck was going to be put on the chopping block, Labour wanted a gay marriage referendum.
“They had one type of reform that they wanted, and we had this,” said one Labour insider with knowledge of the discussions on the matter. “There was an understanding that these things had to travel together, or they wouldn’t travel at all.”

It’s not difficult to think that Labour got the best of that deal and by a long chalk – at least in terms of implementation, and it is perhaps notable that Fine Gael began, as it became clearer that it would be a YES vote to throw itself ever more wholeheartedly into campaigning for it in order to ensure that it wasn’t identified over closely with the LP. Which means, as Stephen Collins noted in the IT:

Although the precise benefit for Labour is hard to quantify, the paradox is that its initially reluctant coalition partner Fine Gael could end up with a greater benefit from the outcome. Even though he was distinctly uneasy in his early days in office about committing himself to proceeding with the marriage referendum at all, the Taoiseach did not shirk from taking a leading role in the campaign.

And looking at how the by-election transfers from the LP flowed mainly to FG perhaps FG will feel that overall they’re definitely getting the best of the coalition deal.

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