Racial prejudice and bigotry have deep roots in Irish society and extend, it seems, to the corridors of power.

Source: Irish Times

The dilemma faced by the gardaí involved in the removal of two Roma children from their homes last week was, supposedly, “Damned if they do and damned if they don’t.” There was no dilemma: they would not have been damned if they had not removed the children.

They had no authority to remove the children, since, it is apparent, there was not “a reasonable ground for believing that there [was] an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of [the children concerned]”. (Had there been such a risk, the other children in those homes should also have been removed.) What the gardaí did had the appearance of illegality, something that is obscured by the “damned if they do and damned if they don’t” refrain.

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New Ireland’s non-Catholic school problem

Source: The Atlantic

Lennon is among a growing number of Irish parents who no longer identify with the Catholic Church and struggle to find schools that don’t clash with their convictions. In Ireland—once considered the most Catholic country in the world—the Catholic Church runs more than 90 percent of all public schools. Other religious groups operate another 6 percent. But Ireland’s religiosity has waned in recent years, amid changing demographics, rising secularism and reports of Church sexual abuse and cover-ups.

Weekly church attendance among Irish Catholics dropped from more than 90 percent to 30 percent in the past four decades. Those in Ireland who identify as religious plummeted from 69 percent in 2005 to just 47 percent last year, according to a WIN-Gallup International poll. And the number of people who chose “no religion” in the last census soared, making non-believers the second largest group in the nation.

These changes are starting to crack the Catholic Church’s monopoly on Irish education, but not quickly enough to meet growing parental demand for school diversity. Polls show that as many as three in four parents say they would send their children to schools run by groups other than churches, if given the choice. But alternatives are sparse. The most prominent substitute for church-run education is a multi-denominational model from Educate Together, a group with no church affiliation that operates just 65 of Ireland’s nearly 3,200 primary schools.

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Have you felt the brunt of the recession?

By Dan O’Brien for the Irish Times

New research shows in the starkest terms yet how younger people were much more seriously affected by the property crash and resultant recession than older age groups.

A paper published yesterday by Petra Gerlach-Kristen of the Economic and Social Research Institute finds that those aged under 45 suffered far more than older age groups in terms of unemployment, disposable income, weekly spending, mortgage arrears and negative equity in the five years to 2009/10.

The single biggest difference between the two groups over the period is in weekly spending when housing costs, such as mortgage repayments and rents, are excluded.

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No abortion referendum in Ireland

Are we?

Are we?

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is on record for saying: “I do not propose to have another referendum [on abortion]. There will be no new rights. The law is not being changed… The law is being codified and the law when clarified will deal strictly with the Constitution… It is a complex matter, it is one which requires sensitivity and understanding.”

How do you feel about Kenny’s recent statement on the abortion referendum? What are the complexities in this debate? I’m interested in hearing how everyone feels about the legalization (or lack thereof) of abortion in Ireland.

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What does the flag of Ireland mean to you?

wikimedia.org

wikimedia.org

By Manchán Magan for The Irish Times

The flag has moved far from its championship of women and workers. It’s now most commonly seen draped around the shoulders of exultant sport fans on their way to a match – and, later, used like a humanitarian blanket by the same fans stumbling home, wrapped in it for consolation or warmth. But it still has potency, most noticeably in Northern Ireland, where your heartbeat eases as you pass from red, white and blue pavement into an area of green, white and orange.

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Are you a bigot if you oppose gay marriage?

Marchers cross O’Connell Street in Dublin at a recent Dublin Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride march. Photograph: David Sleator

Marchers cross O’Connell Street in Dublin at a recent Dublin Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride march. Photograph: David Sleator

By Breda O’Brien for Irish Times

It may seem odd to describe Fintan O’Toole’s article on gay marriage ( Opinion , Tuesday April 16th) as a classic exposition of liberal values, given that the only reason he can conceive of for opposing gay marriage is bigotry motivated by revulsion for gay people.

Admittedly, it does seem distant from “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

But it remains a brilliant exposition of liberal values. Take this: “A marriage freely entered into is a personal relationship. It stands or falls, endures or collapses, is a heaven or a hell, solely because of the way the people in that relationship treat each other.”

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Should the Irish government recognize Travellers as an ethnic group?

By Patrick Counhihan for Irish Central 

The Council of Europe has warned that Ireland needs to take action on discrimination against the Travelling community in the workplace – and wants Travellers recognized as an ethnic minority.

The Council has issued a report on what it calls the ‘de facto exclusion of members of the Travelling community in Ireland from the labour market.’

The Irish Times reports on the Council’s research into Ireland’s implementation of the European treaty on the protection of national minorities.

The paper says the human rights watchdog found that members of the Travelling community continue to experience discrimination in accessing the labour market and health services in Ireland.

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