Archive | Irish news RSS feed for this section

Christian Politicians on the Wrong Side of History

20 Apr


Church State

Some politicians in Ireland want Church and State to intersect

Why should the Irish people care that some Kerry councillors want to erect a crucifix on the wall of their chambers? Who does it really affect? After all, most other people in Ireland are Christian like them, although I assume that the Kerry councillors aren’t just Christian in the nominative sense and, unlike most other people in Ireland, actually make more than a few cursory visits to the pew every year.

But Irish people shouldn’t just care about what’s happening in Kerry, they should be angry about it too. For one reason it shows that ‘liberal’ Ireland still has to dust off some of the residue of its past. But for another and more important reason it shows that some Kerry councillors, whether aware of it or not, want to contravene the liberal democratic values of not just Ireland, but of all Western democracies that value religious freedom and equality, and that should make Irish people very angry indeed.

The church has no place in the state and it’s for its own benefit that it doesn’t. The fundamental truth, unknown by the councillors, is that a religiously neutral state is the chief guarantee of religious freedom and religious pluralism. The United States has one of the most religious societies in the Western world but its strict separation of church and state means that it’s also its most secular state. Thomas Jefferson said that “erecting a wall between church and state is essential in a free society”, and no state guarantees religious freedom and equality as much as The United States.

I assume that such an archaic action is a reaction to the weakening of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Indeed, it was reported that at least one councillor said that they were tired of apologising for their religion. Although I believe that in the near future, the Church will further apologise for its position on HIV/AIDs and its treatment of homosexuals (just as it has for mass rape, torture, murder, slavery and the persecution of other religions) such is its need to stay somewhat current with the rest of civilisation. The councillors may be tired still.

But I digress, regardless of how moral or immoral the Roman Catholic Church may be is not what’s most important. What is most important is that neither the Roman Catholic Church nor any other faith has a place in the state. And there should be no exception, not even if, as one of the Kerry councillors said to justify, “the vast majority are of Christian faith.” The appeal to majority is not just a fatuous one it is fascistic too. It is an appeal that theocrats in Islamic states make at the expense of Christians, Jews and other religious minorities who are pushed to the margins of society because they are not the majority.It is an appeal that betrays incredible ignorance.

At the end of the cold war the academic Francis Fukuyama declared the ‘End of History.’ What Fukuyama meant was the debate between liberal democracy and communism was over-liberal democracy won. The same is true of the debate on secular democracy and theocracy-secular democracy won. The Kerry councillors should be mindful that they, like the communists, are on the wrong side of history.



Ireland’s Greatest and Forgotten Generation (Op-Ed in Huffington Post)

12 Nov

Johnny Depp reminds world that Westmeath exists

12 Nov

Damien Molony: Irish rising star of Ripper Street and Being Human fame interviewed by me in Sunday Independent

12 Nov

Kate McGrath: Star of Merlin and Dracula interviewed by me in Sunday Independent

12 Nov

The Irish: More Emotional Than Most

5 Jan
images (1)

The Irish: Experience stronger emotions than most other’s.

The Irish are, according to a Gallup poll, the fifth most emotional people in Europe. In 2011, 51% of Irish people reported feeling strong emotions on a daily basis.

Over a two-year period (2009-2011) Gallup measured daily emotions in more than 150 countries. Respondents were asked whether they experienced five negative and five positive emotions in the previous day. Negative emotions included feeling anger, stress, and sadness. Positive emotions included feeling respected, smiling and laughing, and being well-rested.

The most emotional people in the world are the Filipinos, where the figure is 60%. The least emotional are the Singaporeans. Despite living in a state where unemployment is low and GDP-per-capita is high, only 36% reported feeling strong emotions on a daily basis.

The famous Latin temperament seems to have born out in the poll, with many of the most emotional people in the world in Latin America. El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Bolivia are all in the top ten.

Furthermore, the opinion that those from Eastern Europe appear less emotional would not seem to be without basis either. Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine are amongst the least emotional people in the world.

One of the primary conclusions that experts have drawn from these results is that many other factors beside income account for a society’s wellbeing. Much of which supports the idea put forth by Nobel-Prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman and Princeton economist Angus Deaton that after individuals make £75,000 (€56,900) annually, additional income will have little impact on how they experience their lives.

How important is religion in the daily life of a European.

23 May

In 2011, Gallup asked respondents ‘Is religion an important part of your daily life?’. The chart illustrates what percentage of the respondents from each of the 12 European states answered in the affirmative.