Masterminds of the Right

Masterminds of the Right

Back in 1992, Emily O’Reilly published a powerful little book called Masterminds of the Right in which she identified the  ideologues who drove the assorted right-wing religious campaigns of the preceding decades.

Fintan O’Toole has listed these groups in the Irish Times as follows:

  • The Pro-Life Amendment Campaign (PLAC)
  • The Congress of Catholic Secondary School Parents’ Associations
  • The Irish Catholic Doctors’ Guild
  • The Guild of Catholic Nurses
  • The Guild of Catholic Pharmacists
  • The Catholic Young Men’s Society
  • The St Thomas More Society
  • The Irish Pro-Life Movement
  • The National Association of the Ovulation Method
  • The Council of Social Concern (COSC)
  • The Irish Responsible Society
  • The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children
  • The St Joseph’s Young Priests Society
  • The Christian Brothers Schools Parents’ Federation

What wasn’t so obvious was that all these impressive-sounding guilds, associations and congresses were actually the same people using different titles, just as today we have spuriously impressive titles like the Iona Institute.  What was even less obvious was the guiding mind behind the entire backward-looking campaign.

John O’Reilly was an engineer with Dublin Corporation, a man of considerable organisational ability who somehow found time out of his onerous local authority duties to run a huge campaign against everything from contraception to divorce and abortion, while continuing to stay in the background.

O’Reilly was the man who had his young daughters order contraceptives from the Irish Family Planning Association in order to secure a prosecution against that organisation in the mad old days when you needed a prescription to buy a balloon.

His hand was behind every right-wing movement in the Ireland of the 80s, but now it seems he has handed the reins to a new generation.

You see, John O’Reilly is a director of Beatha & Slainte Teoranta  and  interestingly, a fellow director is young barrister, Lorcán Price, impressively active at the age of 29, in lecturing grown Irish adults on family values.

John founded B&ST with Dr Berry Kiely of the  Pro-Life Campaign, Mary Barrett, Marie Vernon of SPUC, Joe McCarroll, poor old bumbling drunken right-winger Desmond Hanafin, and Owen Doyle.

Lorcán, by pure coincidence, also happens to be a director of Catholic Comment, founded by none other than Senator Rónán Mullen, and a former chair of Ógra Fianna Fáil in Galway West, but we won’t hold that against him.

He’s also a director of VIE Limited, founded by John O’Reilly, Dr Berry Kiely, Marie Vernon, Des Hanafin and assorted other right-wingers.

They haven’t gone away you know.



7 thoughts on “Masterminds of the Right

  1. yes indeed, like the poor, they will always be with us.
    And deep down, among the many hidden coded lists of like minded followers will be our much maligned warrior 337IAP who, with puffed out chest proudly defends all that is right, right-wing that is.

  2. sorry for hogging… looked at a few of the sites mentioned above and it occured to me that the cross-linking of board members on all the “different” groups designed (disguised) to look, if lined up, like the cast of braveheart would in fact not fill the snug in Tom Collins pub, cast of thousands my arse, half a dozen creeps more like.

  3. They haven’t gone away, but they are diring a slow death and they know it. Obscurity awaits. That’s the thing they fear above all else, being ignored. That’s why they are screeching louder than ever now. It won’t make a blind bit of difference. We, as a nation, owe a lot to the internet and cheap travel….. I’m not one for dancing on graves, but in this case I will make an exception.

  4. Why dignify “Catholic fundamentalism” by giving it the label “the Right”?

    When I was a student (a long time ago) “the Right” meant MIlton Friedman and libertarianism, and even anarchists; people with an integrity that would have led them to reject the authoritarianism and interference in individual freedom that characterise religious hierarchies

  5. Perhaps some new label is needed.

    Much as I disliked his views, it would be a pity if a label applied to intellectuals like Friedrich Hayek was appropriated by religious fundamentalists, as it has been in the United States.

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