Divorce Referendum, 20 years on

Who’d have thought it was twenty years since the second divorce referendum? It feels like yesterday that fundamentalists  were calling us wife-swapping sodomites for suggesting that marriages do actually break down and that maybe we might offer people a way to move forward.

hello divorce bye bye daddy

It’s only twenty years ago though it feels like a lifetime, and  the depressing familiarity lies in the fact that it was the very same families, time after time, who pounded the drumbeat of oppression. The same families who burned books in 1924. The same families who hounded pregnant girls into Magdalene laundries to become slaves.  The same heartless ideologues who continued to reinvent their vile intolerant brand of hate under a hundred different names for sale to an Ireland that was still, only twenty years ago impressed with such puff and nonsense.

  • 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


Who were these people? For the most part they consisted of a small and uneasy – but very vocal – middle-class clique, disturbed by their failure to establish absolute control over the country following independence and uncomfortable with their own sexuality following exposure to decades of dysfunctional Catholic brainwashing.

Such was Ireland, right up to the 1990s and perhaps even to the present day, given the behaviour of some people opposed to the Marriage Equality campaign.

Let’s not fool ourselves about Irish independence. 1922 had nothing to do with freedom for the weak the vulnerable and the poor. 1922 had nothing to do with Irish freedom, unless by Irish you mean wealthy, well-connected and long-established as all the leaders of the most conservative revolution in history were. And as their descendants are today.

1922 had nothing to do with freedom of thought, as the book-burnings that followed would show, and it had nothing to do with emancipation for workers, as we saw when the slavery of the Shannon Scheme inflicted unimaginable suffering on the poor, assisted by the likes of Joe McGrath, a true patriot, thug and torturer of the Irish kind who went on to perpetrate the biggest fraud in Irish history in the form of the Sweepstakes .

It was all about building a sweet little nest for the crooked and the rich, wrapped up in a fake version of Christianity to assuage whatever remnants of compassion remained. And meanwhile, the two best friends of a government presiding over a bankrupt state were TB and emigration.

Perhaps the biggest enemy of the authoritarian tendency was education minister Donough O Malley, who made second-level education available to everyone, much to the fury of those who had hitherto controlled the professions and thus the lives of the ordinary citizen. At a stroke, he provided the masses with the most dangerous weapon of all —  language. He gave those of our people who had previously been rendered submissive a means to express their  disquiet. A way to ask hard questions. A vehicle for challenging the privileged and the smug.

And yet, even in the 1960s, this was no republic and it’s still no republic.

Vested interests have all the power.

We are unable to conduct inquiries into the gigantic banking frauds that collapsed our economy.

Our parliament is powerless to ask questions.

Governments answer to nobody.

Bishops control our publicly-funded schools.

De Valera’s constitution provides a refuge for every knave, robber and poltroon who would choose to walk all over us.

This is no republic and yet there are signs of hope.

It is no easy matter in a country created for the benefit of a single elite to create genuine equality and we haven’t got there yet, though we continue to move forward, as our recent vote in favour of marriage equality shows.  On this, the twentieth anniversary of the divorce referendum, even the Iona Institute, the most vocal political lobby group, is forced grudgingly to acknowledge that divorce wasn’t the disaster predicted by the extreme Right. In an ungracious article on their website, David Quinn even manages to throw poor old Judge Rory O’Hanlon under the bus while at the same time massaging the figures, not so much to support his position as to make the anti-divorce campaign look slightly less nutty.

He failed to convince but that wouldn’t be an unusual thing for David Quinn who is no stranger to getting his facts wrong.

It is perhaps a measure of the new Irish maturity that people are no longer so impressed by important-sounding titles like the Iona Institute or Mothers and Fathers Matter.

No member of these groups will ever sleep in a doorway or line up at a hatch in a dole office, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that the people who campaigned under their banners have never been prominent in fighting for social justice in this little republic. Nor will they, since these people have little interest in decency, but every commitment to imposing control in the name of their personal religious delusions. Not to mention in the name of profit.

So how did their predictions turn out in the twenty years since the divorce referendum in which we voted by a narrow margin to allow remarriage?

Has the institution of marriage fallen to pieces?

Far from it. Indeed, marriage became so popular that the Irish religious Right fought a vicious campaign in 2015 to prevent more people from taking part in it.

They failed.


Education Religion

Religious education controversy – Castletroy College Limerick

In common with many Irish people, I was astonished to hear today on the news that the Catholic bishops control State-funded secondary schools.

Quite a controversy has sprung up as a result of a parent’s request to have his daughter excused from attending religion classes in a publicly-funded secondary school, Castletroy College in Limerick. Paul Drury approached the principal of the school, Padraig Flanagan, assuming that it would be a formality to make this arrangement but he was refused flatly. Out of the question. Drury’s child was going to be taught religion whether he, his partner or their child liked it.

That was despite the fact that Drury’s right to withdraw his child from religious instruction is guaranteed not only in law but in  the constitution. Such piffling details, apparently, carry little weight with Castletroy College. It’s hard to escape the feeling that Flanagan’s predecessor, Martin Wallace, might have handled the matter more deftly.

Contrary to Flanagan’s assurances that his school’s religious education involves learning about all world beliefs, the reality is that the school has, over the years, been routinely visited by an assortment of Catholic priests though not, to the best of my knowledge, any Imams or rabbis. It is possible that Church of Ireland or Presbyterian clergymen have been invited to give classes, though I’m fairly confident no humanists or atheists have ever been permitted to explain their point of view to the students.

You’d imagine, would you not, that a secondary school funded entirely by public money, from the first shovel of concrete to the last penny of staff salary, would be free of religious control? After all, the bishops have for years defended their domination of primary schools by claiming that they provided land for the school (though not the teachers). In the absence of any contribution, real or imagined, you might think that the bishops wouldn’t have the nerve to seek control anyway but if you thought that, you underestimated the bishops’ lust for power and the spineless supine nature of the Irish State.

According to RTE’s education correspondent, when the VEC system was being set up an agreement was reached that bishops would become  joint trustees of the schools, whatever that means. You might have thought that an agreement involves some sort of mutual transaction but in this case it seems to have been much simpler. The State agreed to build and fund the schools while the bishops agreed to exert control without contributing anything.

What could be fairer?  Not even slightly unconstitutional.

The Castletroy College board of management meets tonight to decide on Paul Drury’s request and, while they deliberate, they might reflect on the fact that  Jan O’Sullivan, the Minister for Education has confirmed that parents have the right to remove their children from religious education in schools.

Jan O Sullivan, for her own part, might reflect on the fact that she controls the department that paid for this school’s construction and funds every penny of staff costs, unlike the local Catholic bishop, who funds nothing.

Jan might consider laying down the law to unelected,, unaccountable clerics by pointing out that they have no business telling any parent what their children should study.

And then Jan should dig out that original one-sided agreement between the VECs and the Catholic bishops, hold it in the air and strike a match under it.



In its infinite wisdom, the board of management of Castletroy College has pronounced its judgement.

I promise you I didn’t make this up.   This is not satire.


The student will not be required to study religion, but she will have to remain in the classroom while the subject is being taught.


It smells of some priest insisting on the final say.  How long can it be before a parent member of the board decides it’s time to stop being intimidated?

Do students who opt out of chemistry classes have to stay in the laboratory?

Do students who don’t paint have to sit at an easel?

Do non-singers have to stand in the choir?

It’s like excusing you from listening to Joe Duffy but keeping Liveline on the radio. Cruel and unusual.

Oddly, all the school needs to do in order to resolve this problem is to schedule religion as an optional subject as required by law. That way, students could attend other classes in the normal manner, but until that happens, the suspicion will linger that a bishop’s wishes are greater than the rule of law in this little republic.



Elsewhere: RTE correspondent Emma O Kelly blog.



RTE redesigns the Angelus

Jean Francois millet angelus

When is a Catholic call to prayer not a Catholic call to prayer?

When it’s a moment of reflection for everyone.  Or as RTE’s Head of Religious Programmes, Roger Childs, put it,  conducive to prayer or reflection for people of all faiths and none.  Indeed. A Catholic symbol, imposed on RTE in 1950 by John Charles McQuaid would be an ideal way of inviting members of other faiths and of none to pause and reflect.

That’s why RTE have redesigned their daily religious broadcast, awarding a contract to the Divine Word Missionaries to produce six new short films at an undisclosed cost, films that might better include all our citizens in the daily call to prayer.

This is important since, under our constitution, the State is not allowed to endow any particular religion, and therefore, the national broadcaster is likewise prevented from doing so, though that hasn’t stopped it in the last 65 years.  I’ve done so much reflecting on the words of Mr Childs that I think we could make it even more inclusive with one simple change.

Get rid of the bells. Nothing about them is essential to fundamental Catholic teaching. Catholic dogma would get along just fine if no bells existed in the whole world, so all it would take to silence the critics is one simple change.

Let’s have a new sound. A truly inclusive sound and perhaps a different sound every day, embracing adherents of all faiths and of none. What do you think?

Some have proposed a meerkat screaming Alan! but others have suggested Alan Partridge shouting Dan! across a car park. I think they’d both work.

Sometimes we could have a male voice choir chanting Bong. The Mangelus.

But for true inclusivity, what about a fat hairy biker revving a Harley rhythmically or a mean slide guitarist playing a variation on Texas Flood?

My personal favourite is a simplified version of the Deliverance theme.  The Banjelus.  Perhaps with a muted squealing in the distance.

Suffering and deliverance. What could be more appropriate?




Politics Religion

Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy, says Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Hitler came in for a bit of support during the week, from an unlikely source: Bibi Netanyahu.  Israel’s prime minister told the World Zionist Congress that the Führer originally intended only to expel European Jews, not murder them. According to Bibi, it wasn’t until Adolf met the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem that he changed his mind and decided to kill them all.

That’s Hitler, you see. Very easily led, especially by friends like the Grand Mufti. Even as children, the mini-Mufti was getting young Adolf into trouble, robbing orchards and climbing walls.  Knocking on doors and running away.

Hitler’s mother wouldn’t let him play with young Amin al-Husayni.  He’s nothing but trouble, Maria used to say. You stay away from him.

And so it came to be that when Adolf Hitler grew into a Führer  and Amin grew into a Mufti (a grand one), poor Adolf was still getting into trouble.

According to Bibi Netanyahu, the conversation went like this.

All I really want to do is expel the Jews from Europe. I don’t want to kill them.

No, replies the Grand Mufti. If you expel them, they’ll all come here.

What should I do with them? asks a tearful Führer .

Burn them, says the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, with an evil laugh.

And so it came about that Adolf went from stealing apples at the Mufti’s instruction to murdering six million Jews. He was only following orders.

That’s what bad companions will do to you, as all our mothers warned us.

Mufti Hitler netanyahu

Of course, there are certain problems with Bibi’s narrative, not least of which is the fact that no such conversation is recorded. On top of that, we seem to have the Prime Minister of Israel engaging in a perverse form of Holocaust denial by shifting the blame from the Nazis to a single individual who in turn becomes the embodiment of all those who lived in Palestine before the Zionists kicked them out of their homes.

And yet, in a truly disturbing way, Netanyahu has acknowledged two facts about the origins of the modern Israeli state.

The first fact is that the Zionists and the Nazis had a shared interest in getting as many Jews as possible into Palestine.  Zionism, after all, was a movement that believed Jews could legitimately live only in a Jewish homeland and this was a position not very far removed from that of the National Socialists.  Indeed, within six months of Hitler’s accession to power, the Zionist Federation of Germany approached him with a proposal to solve the “Jewish question”.  In the years before WW2, SS officers and Zionist Federation officials jointly travelled through Palestine to assess its suitability as a new Jewish homeland.

The second fact is that there was no Israel at that time, only a Palestine that would later be obliterated by force of arms in an operation that carries on to this day as the mopping-up continues. The remnants of the indigenous Palestinian people huddle behind the Gaza fence in stone-age conditions of misery or cower in fear as West-bank Israeli settlers beat them, burn them and destroy their homes in the name of a spurious biblical claim to the land they have occupied since the time they were all Jews.

For this we should be grateful to Bibi Netanyahu whose honesty is refreshing.

At least he doesn’t engage in mealy-mouthed evasions.

At least he calls it for what it is.

A true Zionist cares nothing about the Holocaust and a true Zionist knows full well that the state of Israel can only be created by dispossessing those who have lived on the land since before recorded history.

And if Bibi needs to invoke absurd biblical justifications for his war of ethnic cleansing, at least he’s honest about it. At least he declares Israel to be a Jewish state unlike those who would have us believe that it’s actually some Middle-Eastern secular paradise in a sea of religious fanatics.

Of course, the uncomfortable side of this is that people in Europe have been jailed for uttering milder statements absolving Hitler of blame. How ironic to see the prime minister of Israel on the same side as Jean-Marie le Pen or David Irving.

Religion Sexuality

Pope Francis meets Kim Davis

Pope Francis



What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.

Elegantly, and always to the point, Francis Bacon went right to the kernel of the matter in his essay Of Truth, showing up the shallowness and hypocrisy of a Roman prefect who should have known better.

More recently, good Pope Francis spoke in a similar tone to the reviled Pilate when he asked prettily, Who am I to judge?

That seems like a straightforward rhetorical question not requiring an answer until you remind yourself that this Pope is a Jesuit.

On the face of it, the pontiff has told us in his own words that he doesn’t consider himself fit to judge, but perhaps he didn’t. Perhaps he was employing that technique of clerical thinking we became so familiar with during the height of the Irish child-abuse scandal: mental reservation.

Perhaps he mentally reserved his reply to a question that appears plainly rhetorical, and perhaps he answered himself silently.

Who am I to judge?

The Pope. That’s who I am. The Pope!

The United States constitution imposes a very clear separation between church and state, but Kim Davis sought to impose her own Christian law over and above the law of the land by refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples in defiance of a Supreme Court judgement.

Of course, in some countries public officials obey their clerics, imposing religious rules as the law of the land and when those countries are Muslim, we call it Sharia.  But when the majority population happens to be Christian, we call it following our conscience.

What to make of the four-times-married Kim Davis? Clearly, her Christian principles didn’t prevent her from divorcing three times, but they kick in good and strong when it comes to gays getting married. Call it what it is: plain old-fashioned homophobia.

When Pope Francis sought a secret meeting with the person who has become the face of modern bigotry in the USA, he offered comfort to a deeply intolerant strain of society, a tendency that spends every waking hour judging other people.

The non-judgemental Pope prayed with this woman who presumes to judge her fellow man and woman in direct violation of the constitution she swore (on a bible) to uphold. He gave her a set of rosary beads and urged her to be strong. Or, to put it more plainly, to keep denying gay people their constitutional rights.

He can’t have it every way, this affable, smiling Pope. By offering comfort to a bigot and a homophobe, the Pope was judging, and doing it harshly.

The smile, it seems, was only there to mask the dark intent behind it, just as other clerics have used an affable exterior to set a child’s fears at ease. It appears the Pope has been grooming us.

Bacon, as ever, put it best.

There is no vice, that doth so cover a man with shame, as to be found false and perfidious.

Favourites Politics Religion

The Hater’s Handbook. Confirmation bias and cultural bigotry.

This is a brief guide on how to demonise and oppress a group you hate and fear. (Or alternatively, as in Dick Cheney’s case, rob and plunder).

The first step — and this might seem obvious, but it still bears repeating — is to blind yourself to the deep-seated illogicality of your position. Remember, you will never be an effective oppressor if you harbour the slightest doubt that you might somehow be wrong.  This is fatal. Therefore, you must first eradicate all traces of critical thinking from your mind. Remove all tendencies to see the other person’s point of view.

If you can’t manage this, you should not try to oppress anyone. You are a lost cause.

First choose a big lie. It doesn’t matter what the lie is, provided it tends to cause general revulsion towards the group you wish to oppress.

Once you’ve selected your lie, you must then keep repeating it no matter how many times it’s exposed as a lie.  You must never deviate from your lie, but you must at every opportunity try to smear anyone who disagrees with you. They are, in fact, filthy, dirty, extreme-Left, homosexuals, blacks, immigrants, dole-scrounging Muslims, Jews, Catholic perverts.

Now, here’s the important stuff you need to remember.

The Big Lie that facilitated the USA attack on Vietnam was that North Vietnamese forces had attacked a US warship.  They didn’t, but the press swallowed it.

The Big Lie that allowed Cheney’s armies to overrun Iraq was that Saddam somehow was involved in the 9-11 attacks when he was in fact a sworn enemy of Osama Bin Laden, and presided over a secular state where religion was not allowed to impose itself on day to day life, where women had equal access to all professions and all educational opportunities. Saddam might have been a despot, but he was no Muslim fanatic, yet the press swallowed Cheney’s big lie, and so began the bonanza for Halliburton, the company Cheney had absolutely, without question, separated himself from. So began the asset-stripping of an entire nation and the birth of ISIS, all thanks to the Big Lie.

The Big Lie that continues to facilitate Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian people is that they are somehow a threat to the Israeli people.  And thus we watch, every couple of years, as the massive war machine pounds the world’s biggest concentration camp to rubble with the loss of thousands of lives.

We witnessed the same techniques in Ireland recently, when certain home-grown groups chose to spread insane lies about gay people with a view to defeating the marriage equality referendum.  They pushed the lies that the referendum had to do with adoption, with starting a family and most bizarrely, with surrogacy.

They pushed lies about gay people being sexual abusers. They pushed lies about gay people being something other than our own sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

Ultimately, they projected a lie based on their own self-hatred and when they met resistance, they sought to demonise those who called them out on their lies, but then an amazing life-affirming thing happened. The Irish people rejected the lies and sent the fundamentalist groups home to sulk in their socks and vests, trying somehow to convince the world that a 60-40 referendum win was a defeat for democracy.

Confirmation bias is a terrible thing, defined by some as a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.  As more and more people desperately try to escape ISIS, the creation of the West, the new Big Lie is growing stronger, and that lie is simple. All Muslims are evil.

le eithne rescue

Perhaps the most egregious example of it occurred recently when the Daily Mail and the Telegraph reported a shocking story of a devout Muslim father who prevented his daughter’s rescue by beach lifeguards because he believed she would be dishonoured by being touched by men.

What the Mail and the Telegraph conveniently glossed over was that the incident occurred in 1996, because that wouldn’t suit their poisonous narrative.  They found a negative story about a single Muslim and that was enough to project onto all the Muslims in the world, as if there had never been a stupid Christian.

What the Irish media who slavishly repeated the story failed to mention was that we have similar experiences in our own history, the most horrifying of which was the death of 35 young girls in a Cavan orphanage, prevented by prudish nuns from being rescued  because the nuns didn’t wish the firemen to see them in their night dresses.  By the same token, we’ve had recent court cases involving Jehovah Witness parents seeking to let their children die in hospital rather than allow blood transfusions, but such stories don’t fit the anti-Muslim narrative and are therefore never called up when confirmation bias is at work.

This is why some Irish people will look on with equanimity as people drown in the Mediterranean despite the best efforts of our heroic naval service, and yet, in the middle of the horror, there is at least some comfort to be found, since our sailors are working so hard to save the lives of those people fleeing from extremism and oppression.  But on the other hand, it’s hard to escape the suspicion that many Irish people are secretly glad to keep them away from our prosperous comfortable shores.

If we had an education system that was not religious-based, but which instead encouraged critical thinking, perhaps we’d be able to avoid some of this stupidity but unfortunately, that debate is only just starting, and so we continue to be subjected to narratives based on hysteria, prejudice and ignorance.

If you don’t believe me, just take one look at the poor-man’s Golden Dawn calling themselves Identity Ireland.  A bunch of clowns, admittedly, with a stupidity exaggerated by the internet, but fascists all the same.

This is the sort of ignorance we need to challenge at every opportunity, not only here in Ireland, but wherever we encounter it.


Saint Teresa’s walking stick on world tour

When I read the headline first, I had to check it wasn’t The Onion.

Saint Teresa’s Walking Stick on World Tour.  What in the name of jumping Jesus is this?

I had to read it again, just in case the old brain had somehow got stuck on auto but no, there it was. Saint Teresa’s walking stick is on a world tour, in competition with the Blessed Knuckle that worked the circuit a few years back.

Do you remember that?  The Holy Bone-Fragment of St Thérèse of Lisieux, carted around Europe in a jewel-encrusted box without a peep-hole, challenging doubters to test their faith.  If you truly believed, you wouldn’t need to peep into this little box. Indeed. The Blessed Crubeen rests secure inside this here box what we has made for your astonishment so just sit down there in the cheap seats and shut your mouths while we put on this medicine show.

Astonishingly, they even brought the Box of the Blessed Crubeen to the prisons, where hundreds of scobies lined up to worship at a piece of plywood encrusted with fake jewels.  And the prison authorities facilitated this voodoo display but aren’t scobies great all the same? They might stab your grandmother but they have great faith.

I had an excellent idea when the Blessed Knuckle visited Limerick and I have to admit it still annoys me that I didn’t go ahead and make a small fortune on the night of the visit. People queued from the cathedral all the way up the street, around the corner and back down the other street to see St Thérèse’s box.  And naturally, the flower-sellers took advantage of the situation to sell them, eh, flowers for the, eh, Little Flower.

Why in the name of Jesus didn’t I make a huge pot of spare ribs, absolutely delicious, and sell them to the starving throng as Barbecued Knuckle of St Thérèse?  A fortune I’d have made. Tellin ya.

St Teresa of Avila

Anyway, this isn’t about St Thérèse of Leixlip.  This is about Teresa of Avila, a woman pushed into a convent at the age of 14 who gradually descended into a hell of paranoid delusions brought on by religious obsession. Such people today would be known as patients but in the 16th century were called saints.

Eventually, even the Catholic hierarchy decided the woman was stark raving mad and ordered her to stop founding convents full of nutcases but luckily the Holy Spirit intervened in the shape of King Philip II of Spain, who had a quiet word with the Pope and before you know it, Bob’s your uncle. Teresa’s back founding convents like nothing at all happened. The power of prayer.

The Walking Stick of St Teresa was due to be in Galway today.  Later in the week, it will be joined by the High-Quality Hiking Boots of St Teresa, the Heavy Socks of St Teresa, the Sensible Jacket of St Teresa and the Few Sandwiches of St Teresa.  The Carbon-Fibre Mountain Bike of St Teresa will arrive from Africa some time in September.

Isn’t it great to see all these relics doing world tours?


Religion Sexual abuse

Former Cardinal Sean Brady still minimising role in Brendan Smyth sex abuse scandal

You have to hand it to these old bishops — they don’t give up easily.  Even when faced with facts of the most appalling starkness, they always keep a little in reserve against the awful day when they might be asked an even harder question.

And so it is with Seán Brady, formerly known as Cardinal Seán Brady and before that known as Father John Brady, a canon lawyer who interviewed (or in his own terminology, interrogated) a boy who had been raped by Brendan Smyth.

Previously, Brady claimed, and continues to claim, that he was only a minor actor in the process whereby a young boy was sexually abused yet again by Brady and his fellow clerics who asked the child a series of invasive questions that must have traumatised him beyond words.

Following the interrogation, as Brady described it, he swore the child to secrecy, while the child’s father was kept outside the room.  Demonstrating an unerring ability to avoid reality, Brady ventured that it was wrong to exclude the child’s father from the interrogation when in fact the truth is that it was wrong to hold such an interrogation in the first place instead of calling the police and telling them about the abuse.

This he did not do, and neither did his fellow clerics.  His bishop didn’t do it and Smyth’s superior in Kilnacrott Abbey didn’t do it.  In fact, his superior did nothing at all and neither did the bishop, apart from a temporary ban on Smyth hearing confessions.

Brady today admitted to the Historical Abuse Inquiry that the only purpose of the interrogation was to see how the priest could be rehabilitated, and that there was no awareness of the needs of the child, which of course is utter nonsense, since the entire country knew, and had always known, that child abuse is a crime.

Brady was 35 years old at the time and a canon lawyer, which was a rare enough thing.   He was no mere note-taker as he proved when he went on to interrogate other children on his own to verify the complaints against Smyth.

Brady also swore these children to secrecy.

As a result of Brady’s inaction, along with the indifference of his fellow clergy, Brendan Smyth went on to rape children for a further two decades.

Brady speaks the truth when he says that there was a shroud of secrecy with a view not to destroying the good name of the church, and yet he and his fellow clerics dictated to the Irish people since time out of mind what sort of sexual activity was acceptable and what was not.  As recently as last March, Brady’s successor as Archbishop of Armagh stated that that  gay people who have children are not necessarily parents.  Only last month, Eamon Martin attempted to tell the Irish people how to vote in the marriage equality referendum, and in return, received a gigantic two fingers from the electorate.

In general though, apart from one or two outbursts, the bishops remained circumspect, leaving a few fringe groups of fanatical religious ideologues like the Iona Institute and Mothers & Fathers Matter to make the futile political running.

Brendan Smyth didn’t cause this collapse in respect for the Catholic bishops.  They brought it on themselves by their inaction in dealing with sexual abuse and their arrogance in continuing to lecture grown adults about sexual morality in a country that had moved on and left them behind on their moral atoll, like the last Japanese soldiers in the Pacific.

As a result, the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland are now reduced to impotent bystanders, while their role as spokesmen for the orthodoxy has been reduced to half a dozen dysfunctional religious lunatics ranting on Twitter.

How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!


Seán Brady and the Brendan Smyth Sexual Abuse Cover-Up

Cardinal Seán Brady’s Apology

Civil Partnership — Cardinal Brady Makes A Fool Of Himself Again




Film Religion

Dracula is dead

Say what you like about Count Dracula.  He might have had his faults, but a lack of good manners was not one of them.

And by Dracula, I mean of course the effortlessly aristocratic Christopher Lee.  The one.  The only film incarnation of the world’s most beloved vampire.
Christopher Lee

I know there were other Draculas, including that fella in the BBC series that the internet forgot, and of course there was Kinski who contributed the avatar here for quite a while until it turned out he was just another pervert.

In an interesting re-casting of the Muslim mantra that there is no God but God, I have to tell you there is no Dracula but Dracula, and that Dracula is of course Christopher Lee.

I’ll forgive him his ludicrous prancing around in a dress in the Wicker Man.   I’ll forgive his outrageous over-acted Saruman.  I’ll even forgive his geriatric snit when he found out that he wasn’t going to be in the final film of the trilogy, largely because I was on his side there and thought Peter Jackson was completely wrong to omit him.  As if Peter Jackson gave a rat’s arse what I thought about anything.

None of it matters.

Christopher Lee, to people of my vintage, is Dracula, despite many other credible representations, many other Draculas, in some ways more terrifying, but none as satisfying as Christopher Lee with his magnificent baritone and his imposing physical presence.

If we could have a popular vote for the satanic vampiric presence we’d most want to be terrified by, I think we’d probably elect Christopher Lee.

Let us cast a gentle veil over his roles as Bond villain and as Tolkien wizard.  Let us pass by his career as a heavy-metal performer.  Long before he accepted these jobs, he had already done his finest work and established himself as the quintessential, the one, the only lord of darkness, a demon of impeccable manners and implacable evil.

Tonight, we all mourn the loss of Christopher Lee for giving us heathens a tiny frisson of the fear experienced by true adherents to The Faith.

Imagine how scary it would be if you actually believed in this religion stuff.



Great Bouncing Ionaballs!

The ever-expanding list of concerned groups against the Gay seemed to defy the laws of physics, chemistry, biology and common sense.  We only have four and a half million people in the country.  How could we have ten million right-wing Catholic pressure groups?  Mothers and Fathers Matter.  The Iona Institute. Educators for Conscience. Stand Up For Marriage. Down With That Sort of Thing.  Monty Python Against Sexiness.

And then it dawned on me.

There might be ten million pressure groups but there’s probably no more than a couple of hundred extra-loud busybodies trying to run our lives under the disguise of all these important-sounding titles.

So I did a bit of digging on the linkages between the usual faces that pop up on talk shows and the various creepy organisations.  And guess what?  It’s like a spider web.

I wasn’t quite sure how to represent these connections since a normal database structure wouldn’t really illustrate them properly, but that’s where our long-term associate Jim Daly, stepped in.



What about this? he said, producing a galaxy of little frowning, bouncing bobble-heads.  And there you have it.  That’s Ireland’s shabbby theocracy in one satisfying, stress-relieving computer graphic.

You can play with it.  You can zoom in and zoom out.  You can drag it around.

You can grab, let’s say, Breda O’Brien and see if you can make her bounce off Ronan Mullen.

Go on.  Have a look.  It’s fun.

Click on the pic or follow this link.