Tag Archives: Irish Politics

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.

 

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Cavan Steps out of the Past

9 Apr

 

Cavan Town circa 2007

Dublin, Ireland- In a historic move, the Department of Education announced today that Cavanese, the first language of County Cavan, will be taught as a Leaving Certificate subject from September.

The decision means that thousands of students could sit a leaving certificate exam in the ancient language by June of next year. The coalition government believes it could aid the people of Cavan culturally, socially and economically.

The news has been welcomed in the county, with many viewing it as a momentous step in relations between Cavan and the greater Irish population.

“It’s brilliant”, said Michael Gregory, an English teacher from Virginia. “For so long the language barrier has kept Cavan isolated from the rest of the country. Outsiders (non-natives) thought, and still do, that we’re some kind of ancient mud  people living in wattle and daub houses. This decision will hopefully go some way to dispelling these notions”.

The language barrier has historically been a point of contention. With most of the Irish population unable to speak Cavanese, locals often complain of feeling  isolated in their own country.

“It’s pretty difficult alright. You try to get your point across to outsiders the best way you can but they just stare at you as if you’ve got two heads”, said Jimmy Quinn, a local councillor and activist.

Although many Cavan natives like Quinn are fluent in English, they still find it difficult to converse with ‘outsiders’. This is largely due to the Cavan tendency to insert an accentuated ‘Y’ sound into almost every word of English, a pronunciation trait common to the Cavanese language.

Jane McDonald, a Professor of linguistics at Trinity College, hopes the move will educate a new audience on the Cavan people, their language and their culture.

“The misconception is that people in Cavan speak a form of poorly pronounced English. This simply isn’t true. In fact, most people in Cavan speak a dialect, while influenced by English, largely based on a language spoken thousands of years ago by the ancient mud-people that inhabited the region.”

“With it now part of the national curriculum, hopefully more people, both here and abroad, will gain a greater understanding of the Cavan people and their unique culture.”

Often perceived as an archaic region, some Cavan natives hope that if more people learn Cavanese, trade with the rest of the country will increase, helping the county to finally step out of the 19th Century and into the 20th.

“I can’t wait for the future”, said Maggie Molloy, a retailer from Belturbet. “We’ve been stuck with the old horse and cart for years, while the rest of the country get to drive around in their motor cars, listening to their wireless radios and drinking their tea’s from Ceylon and the Dutch East Indies. It’s about time the people of Cavan got some home-comforts too”

There has been some dissent however. George Ui Neill, an independent councillor from Wexford, criticized the decision, claiming that it could irreparably damage the culture of the majority.

“This is multiculturalism gone mad. England has been swept by Islamization to the point that there’s no real English culture left. The same will happen here. If we force our children to speak Cavanese, it won’t be long before we’re all speaking gibberish and looking weird. The ‘Cavanisation’ of Ireland can’t be allowed to happen.”

Ui Neill has found little support politically and it’s widely expected that there will be a large uptake of the language by leaving certificate students in the coming year.

 

26 becomes 25 as Longford cut in effort to curb the deficit

20 Jan

Longford, it's sale could save the state over €250 million per year.

Dublin, Ireland– In an effort to curb spending and generate much-needed revenue, the Irish government has taken the drastic decision to sell County Longford, reducing the Irish republic from 26 counties to 25.

The move, which is expected to be formally announced on 28th January, was made following extensive discussions between representatives of the government and the EU-ECB-IMF troika.

“It was a tough decision, but with the prospect of another EU-backed bailout uncertain the government needed to take decisive action” said Siobhan Reilly, a spokeswoman for the government. “Selling Longford is not something the government wished to do, but with such economic volatility it became necessary to sell some non-key state assets”.

A provisional date for the transfer of the county to a yet to be determined buyer has been set for the 4th October. While a guide price remains confidential, it’s hoped that the move will save the public finances in excess of €250 million per year.

The decision to select Longford was reached after an interdepartmental group concluded that the county would be the least missed amongst the Irish public. James Masters, an advisor to the group, explained how the decision was reached.

“We took into account various factors; tax revenue accrued; cost to the exchequer; value of infrastructure etc. All of these were considered but with most counties running a deficit, what it ultimately came down to was county recognition”

The county holds the unfortunate distinction of satisfying the conditions of the ‘Belgian problem’, a popular political science theory that posits that area’s of relative insignificance and unpopularity are often the first to suffer in times of severe economic or political upheaval.

Despite the severity of the situation, many Longford locals have been stoic about the sale. James Nolan, a former councillor, said that while he found the news ‘wholly devastating’ , he was not overly surprised by it.

“To be honest, if anywhere was to go it was probably Longford. I was hoping for Roscommon or Leitrim but I always thought it would be us” said the 47-year-old solicitor from Granard.”Unfortunately we’re not known for a lot and visitors tend to forget the county in a hurry, kind of like a movie with J-Lo or your one off Friends

Others, however, have expressed their shock and disgust at the decision to sell the county on the international market. Many of whom have already speculated as to whether the government may have been pressured into the sale by powerful voices on the continent.

“I’m shocked and appalled that we (Longford) have to go. I think there were better options than us” said Margaret Coyne, a primary school teacher from Edgeworthstown, Longford. “They could have gone for Cork and done everyone a favour. I believe it’s only on the recommendations of the French and Germans that were now the one’s to suffer”.

Coyne’s sentiment has not fallen on deaf ears, with many members of the Opposition expressing their disapproval of the action.

“This move is totally unjust, even if Longford’s not the best place in the world, it still deserves to be a part of this country”, said a spokesman for Fianna Fail.

Although formal approaches will not permitted till late August, its been reported that the Chinese government have already registered an interest in procuring the county. It’s believed that the Asian superpower would likely redesignate the county as a free trade zone (FTZ) and use it as a European manufacturing base for products such as Hello Kitty lunch boxes and Pandora the Explorer DVD’s.

As to how many residents of the county will remain after the transfer date in October will have to be seen. One resident, however, did express an intention to stay regardless.

“I’m a Longford man first, an Irish man second. I’ll stay, even if the Chinese come” said Mark Murdoch, a carpenter from Longford town. “Sure, it wont be too bad. I love Chinese food, especially the number 46 and 78, the old chicken balls and chips”

In spite of Murdoch’s intentions, it’s expected that a large portion of the county’s current population will locate elsewhere in the coming months.

 

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