Construction Politics

Post-Referendum Business Opportunities

Now that the unfortunate business of the marriage equality referendum is out of the way, it’s time to reveal my true agenda.  It’s time to start fulfilling the worst fears of the Iona Institute and the Muttering Fathers.

The plans have been under preparation for a long time.  Vast armies of kidnapped biological fathers have been slaving in a vast and beautifully-decorated subterranean cavern under the watchful eyes of my fanatical Gayhadist guards and now at last I’m ready.

A week from today, my people will open a shop in every city and town across Ireland selling designer surrogate babies.

They’ll be organic, locally-produced and fully traceable.

I’ve formed an alliance with an evil multinational to genetically modify them so that you can select a baby that looks like, for instance, David Quinn or Breda O’Brien but a court has ruled against making a baby that looks like John Waters on the grounds of excessive cruelty.

The business model is simple.  We’ll use poor women from the Third World as surrogate mothers, and then we’ll brutally force them to give up their babies and throw them out on the streets in the normal way.  In future, we hope that our teams of gay Nazi scientists will find a way to grow babies in a tank, so that you can pick one out while you enjoy a nice meal in one of our restaurants.   You get to try out your baby for a month and if you don’t like it you can bring it back with no questions asked, but the offer is limited to a maximum of three babies in any calendar year.

I think this idea will catch on, given the hundreds of thousands of ravening gays that the Ionanists and the Muttering Fathers warned us about.

I’m calling the company IonaBaby.

Other products include Iona lesbian pouring-chocolate and Rampant Bigot fun toys.


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.


Religion Sexuality

Iona Institute warns that straight men might marry each other and not have gay bum-sex if referendum passes

Poe’s Law states as follows:

Without a clear indicator of an author’s intention, it is often impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of such extremism.

David Quinn is perhaps the greatest satirist Ireland has seen since Jonathan Swift and at the same time the least recognised, which is a true measure of his genius.  Anyone could set up a parody account on Twitter or Facebook, but David took it to a new level by setting up a real-life parody pressure group.  He gave it a company name: Lolek Ltd, and then he gave it a public name, The Iona Institute, a title so gloriously grandiose and absurd that nobody noticed it was a joke.

Crucially, demonstrating a deep understanding of Poe’s Law,  David Quinn avoided the temptation to provide a clear indicator that his work was satire, thus establishing himself as a comic genius, since this is where most satirists fall down. It is very, very hard to do this sort of comedy with a straight face.

Hiding in plain  sight, David succeeded in convincing RTE, the national broadcaster, that his parody company was in fact a real institute with real credibility and real research supporting its views, instead of an in-joke between himself and five of his friends.

Over the years, in its sardonic and knowing way, the Iona Project has exposed the gullibility of journalists and the general public, suggesting one ludicrous proposition after another without anyone ever realising that it was all comedy.  In many ways, Quinn has a great deal in common with Chris Morris of Brass Eye, who managed to convince everyone from Andrew Neil to Peter Tatchell that he was a serious journalist fronting a real news programme.

But of course, all great satirical works must eventually reach their natural end.

It happened to Swift with his modest proposal to cook and eat babies.

It happened to Brass Eye with its Pedophiles programme.

And inevitably, it happened to the Iona Institute when, for reasons only David Quinn can explain, he finally decided enough is enough.  After a massively-entertaining season in which he lampooned the attitudes of homophobes, hate-mongers and the intolerant quasi-fascists that seethe beneath the surface of our little country, Quinn decided to provide Poe’s clear indication that his project was indeed satire, and he did it in such style that we can only stand and applaud.

Commenting on the proposal to allow same-sex marriage, Quinn’s Iona Institute warned that if the Irish public vote Yes, it will lead to straight men marrying each other and not having gay bum-sex.

Hetero marriage Iona

Comic genius sans pareil.  The only satirical equivalent that comes to mind is when Chris Morris suggested that gays can’t join the Navy because they attract torpedoes.

Mr Quinn, we applaud you, though I shed a tear that you have decided to bring down the curtain on this hilarious project.

At the same time, let’s not be too despondent.  The Iona parody might well be over, but we haven’t heard the last of David Quinn.  I predict that his comic genius will find a new way to shout out and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was already working on a new project.

This man is the future of Irish satire.



Favourites Religion

Ancient longing for power behind religious opposition to same-sex marriage amendment

Let us not be under any illusion that religiously-driven opposition to the marriage equality amendment has anything to do with marriage, or with children.  Let us not delude ourselves that it has anything to do with concern for society.  Let’s not pretend it has any relation to ethics, morals or the greater good of society.

Let’s not even imagine that it’s motivated by religious conviction, because it is not.

The opposition to marriage equality is all about power.  This is all about an ancient privileged class using religion as a flag of convenience.  It’s about a profoundly undemocratic tendency staking out its territory, reacting with fury as the formerly-compliant Irish peasantry yet again dare to make their own mind up without waiting to be told what to think.

Though its spokesemen and spokeswomen might be unaware of it, they form part of an unbroken chain of privilege that goes all the way back to medieval times, even though individually they might not all have grown up in privileged circumstances, but that’s how privilege works.  Some have it, others compete for it and some are destined always to be ground under foot.

Order of the Sepulchre  Iona Institute

The likes of the Iona Institute, while undeniably at the shabby end of the yearning curve, are also the most vocal, since that’s what aspiring aristocrats are like when they’re still mere squires hoping for better.  Opus Dei, on the other hand, is an altogether more Patrician brand of ideology, deeper and broader than the shrill salesmen of Iona, but still part of the same continuum, longing for the return of a time when they ruled benevolently over a peaceful and compliant Irish people.

And there’s the problem.

The Irish in recent years haven’t been doing what they were told.  They voted for divorce. They legalised contraception. They decriminalised homosexuality. They closed the Magdalene laundries.   They abolished the industrial schools. They stopped condemning single mothers.

Such impertinence was never a problem in the days when princes of the Church, men like Cardinal Paul Cullen and Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, bestrode Ireland in their colossal hubris, and yet the likes of McQuaid and Cullen were anathema to the covert power structure that gave rise to Opus Dei and its latter-day bargain-basement half-sibling, the Iona Institute.

The last thing such tendencies needed or wanted was an ostentatious display of influence.  These are movements that operate in the shadows, emerging perforce only in the form of obviously proletarian spokesmen like David Quinn and slightly-less proletarian demagogues like Breda O’Brien as the need arises.

Now, I know full well that this is beginning to sound like a demented version of a Dan Brown novel, but that’s  the territory you find yourself in whenever you contemplate silly constructs like Iona and Opus Dei.  The madness is contagious, but still it exists, and therefore, to reiterate, there are people who would always prefer to remain in the shadows.  People David and Breda will never meet.

The men with their hands through the hole in David Quinn’s back will never emerge from the half-light because these are not the sort who benefit from the full glare of the sun. These are the sort who prosper in the penumbra, pulling the strings of hopeful dancing puppets like Quinn, even though he will never be fully welcome at their table.  The tragedy is that he knows it, yet he can’t hide it any more than he manages to hide the accent he grew up with, though he tries, embarrassingly.

That perhaps is the most telling thing about a man such as Quinn, and at the same time the thing we most cringe at, on his behalf.  Not one of Quinn’s puppet-masters tries to disguise the accent of his birth, and why would he?  After all, that accent speaks of centuries of privilege.

Does anyone seriously think the likes of Clongowes Wood sprang spontaneously out of the native rock when the English left this island?  Does any Irish person seriously believe that this is not a society riven by class based on catholic privilege?

It’s true that the aristocracy existed in Ireland before the arrival of the Normans, but it is also true that a parallel class retained privilege based not on Irishness but on adherence to power and later on allegiance to Rome, and that class continued to hold privilege for the same 800 years that the Wolfe Tones banjoed on about.  I never heard those musical freedom fighters resisting the power of the other colonial class.

It suited the covert privileged Rome-based class to promote the Catholic persecution narrative and it still suits them, because that story writes them out of history, which is fine.  As always, in every story where poor people seek freedom, the most convenient story to tell them is the one that suits you most, and in the case of Ireland, the best tale was the one about Catholic oppression.

It’s still the best tale, even though, ironically, when the Brits left in 1922, a new oppressor emerged in the form of the Rome-based conservative ideologues who immediately set about getting rid of every civil liberty imposed on us by the jackboot of British imperialism.  They eliminated divorce.  They got rid of contraception. They ramped up the industrial schools. They introduced the crudest form of literary censorship anywhere outside of Albania.

These people, who were always in power, seamlessly took over control of the medical profession and the law where their descendants remain to this day.

These people were never persecuted or oppressed, though they would like you to accept otherwise.   These people would like you to believe that somehow they represent a traditional version of Irish society when in fact they represent an ancient tyrannical tendency that we thought we had thrown off, but which in reality we still fight against.

Organisations such as the ridiculous self-styled Iona Institute, contain people who are also members of the equestrian orders that invaded the Holy Land as crusaders.  This is not Monty Python humour.  This is fact.

The marriage equality referendum means nothing to the mindset of this movement.  It has nothing to do with religion or principle, but it has everything to do with power and pragmatism.

If they lose, they lose and they’ll move on to the next fight.  If they win, they’ll plan to repeal some other advance of the tolerant society.  It might be divorce.  It might be contraception.  Who can tell?

We can understand the mind of the ideologue, but who can grasp the intentions of ancient power-hunger?




Favourites Sexuality

Lawyers For Yes tear apart every last Opus Dei lie about marriage equality

Lawyers for Yes is a new group, much as Mothers and Fathers Matter is a new group, but with one major difference.

While Mothers and Fathers Matter is a front for Opus Dei, and is utterly unconcerned with facts or truth despite its religious motivation, Lawyers for Yes is composed of people who actually know something.

They don’t have “legal advisors”.  They are actual legal experts.  Senior Counsel.  Experienced solicitors.  People who understand the law and who are in a position to say precisely what the implications of the proposed Marriage Equality amendment are.

And they have produced a guide that blows every last lie of the Iona Institute and MAFM out of the water.

Here are some of the points they make.

The potential to have children is not a defining characteristic of marriage. The courts have consistently emphasised that a married couple without children is a ‘family’.

This is one of the most pernicious lies put out by Opus Iona.  The constitution emphatically does not define family in terms of children.

As the document points out

The State does not require opposite-sex couples, whom it permits to marry, to be fertile, to be of child-bearing age, or to make a commitment to procreate. It is the commitment of the marriage partners to one another, not the having of children, that is the sine qua non of civil marriage.

It continues as follows.

The view that marriage must be open to the procreation of children is demeaning to couples who are incapable of procreating. It is likewise demeaning to couples who begin such a relationship when they no longer have the capacity to conceive. It is demeaning to adoptive parents to suggest that their family is any less a family and any less entitled to respect and concern than a family with procreated children. It is also demeaning to couples who voluntarily decide not to have children.

Civil partnership

On the fallacy that civil partnership is the equivalent of marriage for same-sex couples, the lawyers explain clearly that the key difference which continues to exist between civil partnership and marriage is the fact that civil partnerships do not have constitutional protection or recognition.

The State is not obliged to guard with special care and protect from attack the institution of civil partnership. Civil partnerships are not constitutionally recognised families and, therefore, are not considered to be a fundamental group in society.

A crucial consequence of this is that the legislation providing for civil partnership could be amended or repealed.


Children deprived of their mothers

The Iona / Opus Dei alliance is promoting the nonsense that same-sex marriage will somehow deprive children of their parents, a position that the lawyers have little time for, dismissing it with mild contempt.

The argument that “a child has a right to a father and a mother” presupposes that marriage equality will deprive them of a father and a mother. The overwhelming majority of children in Ireland are born to co-habiting or married heterosexual parents. Not one of these children will be deprived of their mother or their father by marriage equality.


Mum and Dad do best

By the same token, they have scant regard for the desperate claim that children raised by a man and a woman do better than those raised by two people of the same sex.  Neither the Psychology Society of Ireland (PSI) nor the American Psychological Association agree with this claim, and the APA  has explicitly dismissed the claims of the  Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage, quoted by Iona / Opus Dei, as  outdated and contrary to the position of professional psychological bodies.

To quote the APA, which is actually qualified to pronounce on psychological matters, in distinct contrast to both Iona and Opus Dei,

On the basis of a remarkably consistent body of research on lesbian and gay parents and their children, the APA and other health professional and scientific organisations have concluded that there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation. That is, lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.

That seems fairly clear, but  the president of the PSI has something to add.

Empirical studies have failed to find reliable differences between the children of same-sex and heterosexual couples with regard to their gender identity, gender role behaviour, sexual orientation, mental health, or psychological and social adjustment.

Next time a spokesperson from Iona/Opus Dei appears on the radio or TV, can we hope that a journalist will confront them with these statements?


Same sex marriage will not give people the right to adopt a child.  Nobody has that right now and nobody will have it in the future, even if same-sex marriage becomes legal.   Adoption is about the suitability of a person or a couple to adopt, and same-sex couples already have the right to apply for adoption.  This right will not be affected by the referendum, since adoption does not require people to be married.

As Lawyers for Yes point out

The Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015 allows adoption by same-sex couples. A same-sex couple, who are civil partners, and who live together, may apply jointly for an adoption order, in the same way that a married couple can. 


as they are civil partners and not a married couple, they will not have the constitutional protection that a married couple, who have adopted a child, have. If the referendum passes, then those couples may marry and their adopted children will have the same Constitutional protection as adopted children of opposite-sex married couples.

This is what Iona /Opus Dei don’t want to happen.  They do not want the adopted children of same-sex couples to have the same constitutional protections as all other children, which seems rather strange, since they present themselves as defenders of children.

Assisted reproduction

Iona/ Opus Dei have opposed assisted reproduction for heterosexual couples since the procedure became available.  As the document points out, this is the primary way in which infertile couples become parents, whether they happen to be man and woman or whether they are of the same sex.  It has nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

Donor-assisted Human Reproduction

The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 sets out a comprehensive scheme for the attribution of parenthood in assisted reproduction. The Act provides that the legally recognised mother of any child is the woman that gives birth to him or her. Provided that adequate consent is obtained from all parties, the Act allows for the woman’s spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant to be recognised as the second legal parent of the child. The Act deals with opposite-sex and same-sex couples in precisely the same way, hence, donor assisted reproduction raises the same issues for all parents, regardless of their orientation. 

In other words, this has nothing to do with same-sex marriage.


Surrogacy can only be addressed through careful regulation. But these issues apply equally to surrogacy arrangements entered into by opposite-sex and same-sex couples alike. Again, very many of the couples availing of surrogacy are heterosexual. Surrogacy is availed of by couples in Ireland without regulation at the present time. This usually involves the couple travelling abroad to a country where commercial surrogacy is available. The passing or otherwise of the Marriage Equality Referendum will not affect this. The only change will be when legislation is introduced to regulate surrogacy.

Again, in other words, surrogacy has nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

Boiled down to its simplest terms, the No side has only one argument: same-sex couples should not raise children.

Since we know from the testimony of experts that same-sex couples raise children just as well as all the single parents in the country, who comprise 30% of our society, and all the heterosexual couples, this is not just plain nonsense but a deliberate, cynical lie.

The only other alternative is that these people simply have a profound distaste for the very notion of same-sex relationships, and there’s only one word for that.

The prejudice that dare not speak its name.





Here’s the full document.  Read it and use it.

Download (PDF, 1.6MB)




Politics Sexuality

Spring Cleaning

The garden ran away with me, as I told you last week, but I managed to get on top of it, to some extent at least.  I re-started the Tudor-era lawnmower and slashed my way through a forest of wild garlic, though that isn’t the problem.  For all I care I’d have no grass in the garden.  .I’d have rocks and moss and wild garlic and fish ponds.  I’d have lemurs and sucking loaches.  Cassowaries.  Capuchin monkeys at prayer.  Flamingoes, manatees and three-toed sloths. I’d have baobab trees and giant redwoods, cedars of Lebanon and Irish mountain oak. I’d have crocodiles, bears, bison and wild pig snuffling out my weekly supply of truffles, if I had my way, but sadly, I don’t.

I just have a garden, even if it is, to be truthful, fairly large.

This garden has hosted parties of 120 people and more.  This garden has been the location for many a  night of singing, carousing and friends huddling together under gazebos as the rain poured down.  Fiery braziers, barbecues and taxi-drivers who decided to stay for the music at four in the morning.

It’s that kind of garden, not the other kind, all manicured and neat.  It started life as a fairly wild, working garden, laid out for revelry, but it got a bit out of hand in recent times and I needed to get a grip on it.

Good.  That’s done.  It’s all cleaned up now, apart from the wild garlic lurking beneath the surface, ready to explode again next year, but maybe I’ll just decide to live in peace with it and save myself the bother — not to mention the ethical conflict– of using weedkiller.

charles and camilla

To be truthful, I wouldn’t be too worried about the garden but for the impending visit of Charles and Camilla.  They’re going to the Wee North, I know, and they’re also visiting Mullaghmore in Sligo, where Charles’s great-uncle met a violent end, and what decent-minded person could begrudge him that?  To mourn a relative is the most human of acts.

But, you see, I don’t know where else they’re visiting, and I was just thinking, if they happen to be around Limerick, they could always take the spare bedroom in my place.  I’d be happy enough to clear out the wardrobe, put new duvet-covers on the bed and maybe get the curtains cleaned.   Maybe.

I’d even put new toilet rolls in the bathroom.

If Charles and Camilla want to stay in my place, I’ll be happy to put them up.  I’ll introduce them to the neighbours, bring them down to the pub and make them feel at home.  They can borrow the car when I’m not using it and if Camilla needs to run to the shop for fags, she can have a loan of my bike.

The neighbours, though, are the problem, because neighbours mean barbecues, beer in the garden and thus my unending problem: gardens.  I was thinking it would be a great idea to tip off the cops about an arms cache in the garden.   They’d arrive in a helicopter, dig it all up and I could sow new grass in time for the Royal visit, but of course, they’d also put me on some sort of terrorist blacklist and that would be the end of Charles and Camilla sharing a big greasy breakfast with me, complete with Clonakilty black pudding and proper, artery-clogging fried bread.  I bet Camilla likes a big greasy fry and a big pot of tea.  With toast and salty butter.

The other slight problem is that Charles and Camilla will still be here on the day of the Marriage Equality referendum, which means that if they’re staying with me, they’ll probably have to come into town putting up posters on lamp-poles.  I don’t know how old Charles is these days, but he seems like a fairly fit chap, so he probably won’t mind me standing on his back while I tie up the placards, though I’m not sure if Camilla is up to the same effort.

I’m just not sure Camilla is the sort of lady who likes people standing on her back, and that’s the truth.  But on the other hand, she does have that St Trinians head-girl look, so who knows?  Jolly hockey-sticks!

One thing is for sure.  The No campaign would be salivating at the thought of meeting a genuine royal after all the fake princelets they’ve been presented to by Ganley.   David Quinn might pass out in an orgasmic flood of aristocratic sycophancy.  David Quinn might even forget the anti-gay campaign due to excessive salivating.

Note to self.  Call Charles now and see if he’ll talk to David.

Note to self. Make sure video camera is charged.

Note to self.  Bring barf-bag.

Politics Religion Sexuality

“We’ll do the interfering around here,” leader of Iona Youth Movement warns Twitter

You have to hand it to the Ionanists.  They might have no sense of irony, but they’re still a superb comedy act.

We’ll do the interfering around here, Ben Conroy warned Twitter Ireland’s MD Stephen McIntyre after he told a conference attended by Enda Kennny that a Yes vote would be good for Ireland’s image.

Apparently outraged at another private company muscling in on the Iona Institute’s patch, Ben wondered if Kenny would be  so happy to see Twitter commenting on other political issues.  It set a precedent, seemingly, of foreign companies trying to influence Irish voters.  Of course, that’s where Ben is being a tad economical with the truth since his mother Breda must surely have told him about Iona’s long-standing relationship with Tom Monaghan, founder of American multinational, Domino’s Pizza.

He also seemed to overlook the fact that he, as spokesman for one private company exclusively engaged in political lobbying, was challenging the right of another private company to express an opinion.  He also overlooked the fact that as an Irish citizen, Stephen McIntyre has every right to say whatever he wants about Irish politics.

Just like Twitter, Iona is a private company, but with several significant differences, the most relevant of which is this: Twitter doesn’t pretend to be what it is not.

Under the pretext of being a charity exclusively devoted to promoting religion Iona, aka Lolek Ltd, receives considerable tax relief, funded out of your pocket and mine.

Unlike the Iona Institute, Twitter is not a political lobby group pretending to be a charity.  Unlike Lolek Ltd (aka Iona), Twitter has conducted no campaign, commissioned no videos and sent no representatives to infest every talk show on the airwaves.

You’d almost think the Ionanists were trying to protect their patch, as if they had secured the exclusive rights to opinions in this little democracy.

If pizzas were politics, this would be a lot like a small local pizza chain trying to fight off a big American franchise.

Back off.  If anyone is going to tell people what to think around here, It’s going to  be us.


Ireland’s Phelps family


All Bock articles on Iona.


Iona Institute Refuses to Register as Third Party in Same-Sex Referendum Campaign

The Iona Institute is being remarkably coy about its funding, for some reason.

Who could have imagined such shyness from a political pressure group that salivates at the very thought of being mentioned in the media?  And yet, this weekend, Iona’s charismatic founder David Quinn is still unavailable for comment on media reports that his PR operation has declined to register with the Standards in Public Office Commission as a Third Party in the forthcoming marriage equality referendum.

Following publication of Mark Tighe’s article in the Sunday Times, David Quinn remains unavailable for comment, and I’ll just invite you to think about that for a moment.  It’s like saying the Pope is unavailable for prayer or Silvio Berlusconi is unavailable for bunga bunga.

It’s like saying my dog is unavailable for cat-following or postman-biting.

Perhaps this is an extension of David’s behaviour on Twitter.  When faced with hard questions he tends to block people and label their questions Abuse, much as Breda and the other Ionanists do.   Has he now extended his practice to the entire world, blocking everyone who might possibly pose him tough conundrums?

Has David got his hands over his eyes and is he chanting You can’t see me?

The Sunday Times article explained that the Iona Institute has declined to register with SIPO and I’m going to concede right now that they don’t have to, even though most of the campaigns on the YES side have done so, including Amnesty International.

Iona declines to register with SIPO

Be that as it may.  David Quinn and his prayer group have long lurked in the crepuscular nooks of rational debate where up means down and here means there.  Only last week, on the Sean Moncrieff Show, Quinn made the ludicrous assertion that the Iona Prayer Group weren’t campaigning at all, despite their never-ending appearances on TV and radio speaking against a Yes vote.  It was an astonishing example of looking-glass logic where words mean whatever you want them to mean, but it wasn’t an untypical example of Quinn’s style, because after all, even though his motives are old-fashioned fundamentalist, his tactics are straight out of the PR Cynic’s Handbook.


The fact is that he doesn’t have to be up-front.  He doesn’t have to register with SIPO and no doubt that’s the drum he’ll be banging when he emerges from his ecstasy.  However, I suspect he’ll neatly glide over a provision of the Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012, which states as follows, (with my added emphasis):-

Section 23A

(1) Without prejudice to subsection (2), none of the following persons, namely—

(a) a member of either House of the Oireachtas,

(b) a member of the European Parliament,

(c) a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad or European election,

(d) a political party,

(e) a third party, or

(f) an accounting unit,

shall, directly or through any intermediary, accept from a particular person in a particular year

(i) a donation the value of which exceeds, in case the first-mentioned person falls within paragraph (a), (b), or (c), €1,000,

(ii) a donation the value of which exceeds, in case the first-mentioned person falls within paragraph (d), (e), or (f), €2,500, or

(iii) a donation of cash of an amount which exceeds €200.


23AA.— (1) None of the following persons namely—

(a) a member of either House of the Oireachtas,

(b) a member of the European Parliament,

(c) a candidate at a Dáil, Seanad or European election,

(d) a political party,

(e) a third party, or

(f) an accounting unit,

shall, directly or through any intermediary, accept from a particular corporate donor in a particular year a donation the value of which exceeds €200 unless—

(i) the corporate donor is registered on the register of corporate donors, and

(ii) a statement is made on behalf of the corporate donor and furnished with the donation to the donee confirming that the making of the donation was approved by the corporate donor.

Are we clear on that?  No third party seeking to influence the outcome of a referendum, is permitted to accept a donation of more than €200 from a private individual or from a corporate body.  Furthermore, if a corporate body donates more than €200, it must be placed on an appropriate register.

Let me add something here.

The Iona Institute is registered with the Revenue Commissioners as a charity.

Here is an extract from another article on this site about the status of Lolek Ltd (otherwise known as the Iona Institute) as a charity for tax-relief purposes:

Under Irish law, an organisation can get tax exemption if it engages in one of the following:

  • Relief of poverty.
  • Advancement of education.
  • Advancement of religion
  • Other works of a charitable nature beneficial to the community.

If the organisation is a corporate body, as Lolek Ltd is, it must be bound by a memorandum  and articles of association. All of its money must go towards achieving the aims stated.

In Lolek’s case, the aims it stated in order to get tax-free status are as follows:

The advancement and promotion of the Christian religion, its social and moral values, and the doing of all such other things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of that object.

If it spends money on anything else, it doesn’t qualify for tax exemption.


Now.  What David Quinn, Breda O’Brien, Ben Conroy and other Iona associates have been doing since the announcement of the Marriage Referendum is campaigning on a non-religious issue, namely civil marriage.

What’s more, they have been campaigning with the use of funds provided by the Irish taxpayer via their tax-exemption as a religious charity.  This is, in my opinion, an unconstitutional endowment of a religious grouping by the State.

Here is David Quinn, in his own words, confirming that his activities are not of a religious nature, while still availing of his Institute’s tax free status.

David Quinn letter confirming non-religious nature of Iona activities

Last week, as I said, David Quinn invited us to believe the absurd proposition that he and his fellow fundamentalists are not campaigning, even though they appear on national radio and TV week in and week out opposing a Yes vote.

It’s nonsense and yet David Quinn seems to think we’re all as gullible as that.

Iona has pointed out that it sees no need to register with SIPO since it has received no contribution of more than €100.  This week, it seems, Iona is inviting us to believe that none of its supporters has contributed more than €200 to its campaign.  Not even the leading international businessmen in Legatus, of which David is the Dublin director.  Are they really saying that not one of these multi-millionaires could manage to kick in the price of a single top-class Cuban cigar?

Not a single one of them donated more than €200.

Amnesty International has disclosed that it will spend €30,000 pursuing a campaign in favour of a Yes vote, and yet the ever-present Iona Institute survives on the odd tenner, as Breda O’Brien put it, from grannies in Donegal.

Wealthy, pizza-empire-owning grannies in Donegal, no doubt.

I’m not calling Iona liars, but I don’t believe them, as is my right.

The real question is this.   Should RTE continue to facilitate a pressure group that won’t abide by the same standards of transparency as its opponents?

Should David, Breda, Ben (Breda’s son), Breda’s sister-in-law and all the other hangers-on continue to have unlimited access to our publicly-funded broadcaster while they refuse to disclose the sources of their funding?

This is very sinister.

What does Iona have to hide?


All articles on Iona.


Axe-Murderers and Crack Cocaine. The Ionanists Lose the Run of Themselves

Young Ben Conroy is still only an intern in the vast underground complex of Iona Central, even if his mother wears the robes of a patron, but mother and son share the same gifts: a complete lack of writing talent, an inability to construct a rational argument and an unerring instinct for creating  a public-relations disaster.  It’s true that Ben isn’t yet a minion or a henchman.  He isn’t even an adept yet, but he has the sneer of contempt for our intelligence and that’s all it takes to be a member of the ludicrous Iona Institute.

Be strong, young Ben, says Breda the Patron.   Feel the contempt.  Use the contempt wisely, for soon you will have your hands on the levers of power.  And tuck in your shirt. Did you eat your dinner?

iona child right

The Ionanists made a disastrous attempt at giving the young their head today when they posted an article by the Ionasprog, Son of Breda, in which he tried to use the examples of axe-murder and crack cocaine against same-sex marriage.

Clearly, young Ben has inherited his mother’s gift for bad writing and woolly logic, as he demonstrated in this astonishingly inept post on the Ionanists’ blog.

I’ll reproduce it here in full, and of course, if they ask me to take it down, I’ll be happy to do so in the interest of respecting their copyright.  However, since it bears their imprimatur, it would be hard to know why they wouldn’t want their wisdom spread as widely as possible.  For once, ironically, I am their agent.

What I find touching about this article is Ben’s acknowledgement at the very end that he is in fact talking utter nonsense.

To quote: This post is likely to run afoul of the Problem With Misinterpreting Analogies. So no, I am in no way, shape, or form comparing axe-murder with a child being denied a mother or father. I am using a deliberately silly and over-the-top example to illustrate a principle about guaranteeable rights.

In other words, Ben realises full well that he’s writing bollocks and he seeks to pre-empt criticism in advance.

In some ways, I have to admire him, since he’s the first Ionanist to concede that their technique is to employ deliberately silly and over-the-top examples, but maybe that’s what got him into trouble.  Obviously, David Quinn got home after a hard day licking the toes of statues and was appalled to see that the Ionanists had posted a link to this article on their Facebook page.

Down it came.  It’s gone.

While young Ben was speculating on the notion of Vincent Browne and his panel being hacked to death by an axe-murderer, and attempting to tie that in to same-sex marriage, did anyone remember that only a year ago, an Iona researcher, Tom O’Gorman, was murdered in horrible violent circumstances by a religious maniac?

Isn’t the Ionasprog’s article a perfect example of the disgusting lack of concern for others that is at the heart of this ridiculous self-styled institute?

It’s hardly a surprise that the ludicrous Iona Institute pulled their Facebook posting of the Ionasprog’s silly article.  How long before they quietly drop it from their website?

They can’t have it every way.  If Breda sends this boy-child out to lecture grown adults on the public airwaves, she can hardly complain if he comes home with a spanking.

Remember, every child has the right to a mother and father who aren’t members of the Iona Institute.  It’s in the Constitution, right?



Ben Conroy’s article.


There’s a persistent idea on the Yes side that notions that the idea of a child having a “right to a mother and father” or “a right to a relationship with their genetic parents” is a nonsense argument because – or so the reasoning goes – the state can’t guarantee it. Their mother might tragically die, their father might walk out, and there’s not much anyone can do about it.

But what would happen if we applied this logic to a few other rights? How about the most basic one – the right to life?

I’m not talking about abortion here, I’m talking about the subset of people who everyone agrees has a right to life – those walking around. The right to life is the single most fundamental human right there is: without it all other rights are meaningless.

But can the state really guarantee this right? Let’s look at a couple of examples.

One of the people who’s pretty convinced that the right to a mother and father means nothing is journalist Vincent Browne. But imagine if a mad axe-man were to sneak into the TV3 studios of an evening and kill Vincent and his unfortunate panel stone dead. The state could certainly prosecute the man after the fact: but that would be no good to Vincent. His right to life would stand thoroughly un-vindicated.

The example need not be so drastic: people have accidents, get ill, grow old. In the end, the right to life is completely unguaranteeable.

What’s that you say? The state can’t absolutely guarantee any right, but it can do whatever is reasonably possible to ensure rights are vindicated?


How can the state preserve Vincent Browne’s right to life in the mad axe-man scenario? It can employ police officers to keep an eye out for masked men with large blades; it can pass laws making it illegal for people to carry axes on the street; it can disincentivise the axe-man from going on a murder spree using the threat of prison.

It can also take more indirect measures: trying to ensure that as many children as possible grow up in circumstances that minimise their chances of becoming axe-wielding maniacs; using the law as an educator to help create an anti-axe-murder culture. In fact, the state does all of these things! So it makes perfect sense to talk about vindicating rights even when that can’t be done with certainty. In fact, if you can think of any right that can be guaranteed with 100% of the time, I’d love to hear from you, because I can’t.

So Vincent’s argument, and that of many who support a Yes vote, would make the right to a mother and father meaningless, but only by making literally every other right meaningless too.

* * *

Another point that’s often raised is that even if the state could guarantee a child’s right to a mother and father, doing so would be absurd, as it would mean the State taking draconian actions like forcing widowed mothers to remarry.

But note: the State is not even doing everything it could possibly to protect Vincent Browne’s life from axe-men. It’s not mandating that he wear body armour, or providing him with security guards at all times. It’s doing everything reasonably possible, given the relatively low prevalence of rogue executioners and disillusioned lumberjacks in Irish society.

It’s the same in other areas, like health. Compromises are made, and realistic lines are drawn. We’re not legally prohibited from eating chips and sausages all day because that would be an unacceptable violation of our freedom: but we’re happy to ban crack cocaine.

So the suggestion that guaranteeing a child’s right to a mother and father requires extreme measures is just wrong. The state can do what it does in other areas and take reasonable action. It can support and incentivise marriage, which encourages mothers and fathers to commit to each other and to their families; it can remove marriage penalties from the social welfare code; it can express a preference for mothers and fathers in adoption law; it can forbid the use of reproductive technologies that deliberately separate a child from one or both of their biological parents; and it can maintain a definition of marriage that keeps a child’s right to a mother and father at its heart.

NB This post is likely to run afoul of the Problem With Misinterpreting Analogies. So no, I am in no way, shape, or form comparing axe-murder with a child being denied a mother or father. I am using a deliberately silly and over-the-top example to illustrate a principle about guaranteeable rights.



ben conroy same sex marriage article 001


ben conroy same sex marriage article 002


ben conroy same sex marriage article 003


Breda O’Brien and the Twitterverse

Breda O’Brien, self-styled “patron” of the ludicrous Iona Institute,  recently wrote a long, confused and rambling article in the Irish Times about Twitter and the internet in general, in which she complained that the Twitterverse is a bubble detached from reality.

I thought it might be fun to replace the word Twitter with Iona in the first few paragraphs and see if the article made more sense.

It did.


Iona is not the real world. This may seem an obvious statement if you are not in Iona. It may appear less so if you are.

The main requirement to be part of the Ionaverse that deals with Irish current affairs is surgical attachment to a smartphone or computer screen, and a job that allows you to check feeds constantly.

This cuts out a significant proportion of the population. It is clear that the self-employed, and those who work in the media and public relations, are going to be online far more often than the average person.

So are politicians, or at least, their proxies. It is, in short, a bubble, which considers itself to be vastly important.

A Sunday Independent poll last week showed over half of thirtysomethings rarely if ever use Iona, and only 17 per cent use it every day.

One could leave people to their comforting facsimile of the real world, were it not having an impact on media and on general debate.

I know radio and television producers who check Iona obsessively to see the reaction to programmes. They are getting a skewed result, but I suspect they don’t fully realise it. Meanwhile, they are alienating their core audience.

On Iona, very unpleasant people have thousands of followers. So do intelligent, courteous people. But which group has more influence?

The echo chamber gets very loud, as people get “called out” for thought crimes. You never know when a tsunami of abuse will be unleashed. Unsurprisingly, the victims’ response is usually shock and withdrawal.

Of course, it is not just Iona. The internet has allowed a culture of blame and shame that is most notable for its irony deficit.


Judge for yourself.



What exactly is the Iona Institute?