A clash of values

A guy in Dublin wants state schools to be more accommodating to Islam, according to the Irish Times.

It goes wrong right in the first sentence.

A spokesman for the Muslim community in Ireland has called for radical change in the educational system to accommodate children with Islamic beliefs.

There is no “spokesman for the Muslim community in Ireland.” That’s not a thing. The guy wrote a book; that doesn’t make him a spokesman, and you couldn’t have “a spokesman for the Muslim community in Ireland” if you wanted to, because there’s no procedure for electing one. [Read more…]

Half the children housed in the institution died in 1925

Imagine an orphanage where news that the mortality rate for the last year was 19% was good news. That was the mother and baby home in Pelletstown in Dublin in 1930.

While fatalities had undeniably fallen, the fact remained that 66 – or almost one in five – of the 336 children housed in Pelletstown died in the year to March 31st, 1930.

Half the children housed in the institution died in 1925, with a measles epidemic cited as the explanation for the high death rate. The following year, more than a third died. The death rate rose to 42 per cent in 1927 before falling to under 20 per cent in 1930.

Between 1924 and 1930, 662 children died at the institution, an average of over 94 deaths a year. This compares to the 796 deaths recorded in the children’s home inTuam over a 36-year period between 1925 and 1960, an annual average of 22.

[Read more…]

Not dumped but…carefully placed?

Catherine Corless isn’t happy about the way the discussion of the Tuam mother and baby home has gone. She doesn’t like the framing.

‘I never used that word ‘dumped’,” Catherine Corless, a local historian in Co Galway, tells The Irish Times. “I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not come from me at any point. They are not my words.”

The story that emerged from her work was reported this week in dramatic headlines around the world.

“Tell us the truth about the children dumped in Galway’s mass graves” – The Guardian.

[Read more…]

An inquiry into the circumstances behind so many deaths

Good. The discoveries about the Tuam mortality figures are making a stink in Ireland. Good.

There is growing pressure on the Government to hold a full historical inquiry into the deaths of almost 800 children in a mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway between the 1920s and the 1960s.

There were numerous calls from TDs, Senators and councillors yesterday for a full inquiry following the disclosure that many infants and children who died in the home run by the Bon Secours order were buried in an unmarked plot.

Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan said yesterday that he was giving “active consideration to the best means of addressing the harrowing details emerging regarding the burial arrangements for children who died many years ago in mother and baby homes”.

[Read more…]

ReMorePlusAgain sophistification

This time it’s a piece in the Irish Times, by Joe Humphreys, about a new book by Richard Kearney, who is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. What the article neglects to mention is that Boston College is Catholic.

The subject is familiar – the current discussion of theism and atheism is simplistic and boring; we need something more sophisticated than that. Enter the guy from the Jesuit college.

The philosopher is trying to move the discussion onwards through his writings and The Guestbook Project, which is described as an “experiment” in hospitality and inter-faith dialogue and is sponsored by his employer, Boston College. In his book Anatheism: Returning to God after God, Kearney rejects the notion that we must chose between either theism or atheism. This forms the basis of today’s idea: God is a symbol that constantly requires reinterpretation. [Read more…]


I heard a discussion of a new movie, Calvary, on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review yesterday; it sounds pretty damn interesting.

The Irish Times has a review.

The predictably flawless Brendan Gleeson plays Father James Lavelle, a decent priest serving the needs of an absurdly colourful Sligo community, whose world is upended by an unexpected encounter in the confessional.

A troubled parishioner – unseen by us, but apparently known to our hero – explains that, having been abused by clerics as a child, he intends to exact revenge by killing James in one week’s time. [Read more…]

Loosen the screws, the better to tighten them

Hmm, it’s good to get rid of a blasphemy law, but it’s not good to replace it with “a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred” – meaning, apparently, to include something that forbids so-called incitement to religious hatred. Unfortunately that’s just what Ireland’s constitutional convention has recommended, according to the Irish Times.

The constitutional offence of blasphemy should be replaced with a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred, the constitutional convention has recommended. [Read more…]

Vaccines undermine “divine providence”

At the end of August, epidemiologists in Texas traced a measles outbreak to people who attended a particular megachurch, the pastor of which has preached against vaccinations. The pastor has apparently repented that stupid move.

Fortunately, that outbreak was able to be pretty well-contained — after the disease sickened about 21 people, Texas issued a public health alert and quickly found the source of the issue. The megachurch’s pastor was very cooperative and even agreed to host several free clinics to encourage the congregation to get their shots.

That’s good, but a fundamentalist area of the Netherlands isn’t doing so well. [Read more…]

If you can’t leave, that’s prison

The Taoiseach has told the religious orders to have a serious think about their refusal to pay any compensation to the women who did slave labor in the Magdalen laundries for decades. This was a for-profit business the orders were running, and the women got literally no payment at all. That’s slavery, and a pretty damn harsh version of it at that.

The four orders have told the Government they will not contribute to the redress scheme set up to compensate the former residents of the laundries. The scheme is expected to cost between €34 million and €58 million.

The Mercy Sisters, the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, the Sisters of Charity and the Good Shepherd Sisters have informed Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in recent days that they will not pay into the fund.

Laughable, isn’t it. Mercy. Charity. Good shepherd. All that, yet they refuse to pay back wages to women they enslaved. What mercy? What charity? What good shepherd? [Read more…]

The culture that has absorbed the poisonous misogyny of the Catholic Church

Well Vincent Browne is blunt.

Tonight the (almost) all-male parliament will vote to imprison a woman, for up to 14 years, who refuses to give her body to the sustenance of another human being, irrespective of almost all circumstances.

It is irrespective of whether the pregnancy would do serious and irreversible harm to her health for the rest of her life.

It is irrespective of the circumstances whereby she became pregnant, for example, if she had been gang-raped and was distraught at the prospect of bringing to full term the child of one of her rapists.

It is irrespective of whether the woman would be able to cope physically, emotionally and psychologically with having, say, a 10th child. It’s irrespective of the woman’s will. [Read more…]