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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.




Choosing Not to Have Children is Selfish, says Pope, Who Chose Not to Have Children

It was a little disappointing when the secret conclave elected a man to the papal throne who seemed more reasonable than the demented old ideologue who had gone before.  On the face of it, Jorge Bergoglio was more a man of the people than the bitter old Josef Ratzinger, former head of the Inquisition and enforcer-in-chief under Karol Wojtyla.

Pope Francis waves to crowds as he arrives to his inauguration mass on 19 March 2013.

It was disappointing, but only because Ratzinger provided so much opportunity for ridicule compared to the reasonable, sane, kindly Pope Francis, and to be fair to him, Bergoglio has done much to be praised.  He constantly attacks the remoteness of the Curia, he mixes with the common people and he does not lead an opulent life.  In many ways, he’d need to be careful that  they don’t murder him as they did Albino Luciani, otherwise known as John Paul I.

In his early utterances on homosexuality, Bergoglio asked the historic question, Who am I to judge?, and we all agreed.  Who indeed?  Who are you to judge, and who are your bishops to judge, and who are your priests to judge, and who are your Catholic ideological vanguard to judge? Who are the likes of the self-appointed Iona Institute to judge?

At last, we were thinking, a humble pope who understands that his  opinion is just that.  An opinion.

But masks are made for slipping, and so it came to pass that Jorge Bergoglio last week expressed his views on beating children.

It’s all right, this pope thinks, to hit a child as long as you don’t hit the child on the face.

One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them’.

That’s because, you see, it’s never humiliating to be struck by somebody bigger, when they want you to obey them.

That’s why this sort of behaviour is legal among adults, isn’t that right?  This is why bosses are allowed to hit their employees as long as they don’t hit them on the face, which would be humiliating.  This is why the Pope is allowed to leap from his throne and kick the living shit out of any cardinal who disagrees with him.

How beautiful! said the Pope of the violent father.  He knows the sense of dignity! He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.

In other words, Slap!  Take that you little bastard. Now shut up.

This is how the kindly new Pope sees parenthood, but why wouldn’t he see it that way, having no experience of it himself?

This week, Jorge Bergoglio came out with another gem.

Couples who choose not to have children are being selfish, according to a man who chose not to have children.

In a world where over-population is a huge problem, couples who choose not to have children are being selfish.  They’re not being responsible.  They’re not being sensible.  They’re being selfish.  They’re not even making a sacrifice, even though the concept of sacrifice is at the heart of Bergoglio’s ideology.

Somehow, in Pope Bergoglio’s world, when he makes a decision about his life, it’s a commitment, but when somebody else makes the same decision, it’s selfishness.

That tells you all you need to know about the Vatican and the apparatchiks who control it.

Including the kindly Pope Jorge.


Favourites Religion

Fatal Foetal Abnormalities. Irish Politicians Take the Cowardly Option as Always.

Let’s be clear about fatal foetal abnormalities.

This issue has nothing to do with severe disability, as the anti-abortion extremists would have you believe.

This is about babies who can never, ever survive outside the womb.  This is about things like  anencephaly where  the baby has no brain, and only lives within the womb  because its mother acts as a life-support system, if you could call it living.

This is about women discovering that they are carrying an anencephalic baby that will certainly be born dead, and who are denied an early delivery because the demented ideologues of Youth Defence and the Iona Institute have terrified our spineless politicians into silence.

This is about forcing a woman to gestate a dead baby for three, four or five months in order to satisfy an insane religious ideology.

That’s what Claire Daly’s bill was about.  Giving some relief to women who are already undergoing a huge loss.

Unfortunately, given the profound  dishonesty of the Iona Institute and Youth Defence, this is not how the ideologues will try to spin it for the media.  It’s almost as if they have some other agenda, which has nothing to do with compassion.

As a result, the chances are, some idiot teenager will stop you in the street and try to lecture you about aborting disabled babies.

Smack them about the ears and tell them to live a life before lecturing a grown-up.  This issue is not about disability.  This is about women being forced to carry dead babies inside them for months.

This is barbarism at its worst but  sadly, our spineless politicians seem content to put up with it.

We get what we deserve.


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?

Religion Sexuality

It’s Official. Alabama is More Tolerant Than the Iona Institute

SSM Alabama


The headline, I’ll concede, is a cheap shot, but when you’re dealing with people who’ll stop at nothing to score a cheap point, all bets are off.

The ridiculous, and rather sinister  Iona Institute, after all, are the people who falsely claimed to the Constitutional Convention that research  showed children had better outcomes when raised by heterosexual couples.

This was nonsense, and it prompted a response from the authors of the research, Child Trends, as follows

no conclusions can be drawn from this research about the well-being of children raised by same-sex partners

That’s Iona for you.  Not too scrupulous about checking the facts.  Next time you hear some Iona hack talking about studies, it would be no harm to remind them of their disgraceful record when it comes to quoting research.

This crowd are not all that impressive when you peel back the layers of PR.  All we’re talking about is a bunch of religious ideologues with disproportionate access to the TV and radio.  Their talking heads aren’t even all that impressive, as Breda O’Brien illustrated recently on Morning Ireland.  Even I cringed for her, and that’s saying quite a lot.

For the moment, Alabama has no choice but to accept same-sex marriage, but of course they’ll fight it.

Remember, this is what Iona are fighting to align us  with.  Alabama of all things.

Just peel back the scab of prejudice and you’ll see what we’re really dealing with.


All posts on the Iona “Institute”




Anti-Equality Lobby Opts For Old Scare Tactic

When all else fails, use the children.  That was always the way of the religious Right, not just in Ireland, but worldwide, and so it remains today.

Clearly aware that blatant opposition to same-sex relationships will be counter-productive, the likes of the Iona “Institute” have changed tack, attempting to focus instead on the rights of children.  But in doing that, ironically, the Iona “Institute” does exactly what it accuses its opponents of — trying to redefine marriage.  By insisting that procreation is an integral element of marriage, the Ionanists exclude all post-menopausal women, all men who, for one reason or another, cannot father children, and everyone who feels disinclined to have offspring.

In other words, marriage is what the Ionanists decide it ought to be, not what it actually is in the wide, non-specific world where there are no certainties and where people muddle through as best they can.  In the eyes of the religious Right, there is no room for nuance, no room for anything other than certainty, prescribed ways of being and approved forms of family.  Iona’s eyes are fixed firmly on the region between the belly-button and the knees, as usual with religious obsessives.

One of the silliest fallacies they continue to parrot is the deeply dishonest position of the Irish Catholic bishops, that marriage equality will deprive children of the right to a mother and a father.  You would think, to listen to David Quinn and Breda O’Brien, that there was some proposal to knock down doors, kidnap children and hand them over to the ravening gays.

Here’s a nasty distortion that we hear from them lately: if gays are allowed to marry, it won’t be possible to give preference to a heterosexual couple over a same-sex couple in an adoption.

Firstly, that statement is filled with contempt for the adoptive children they claim to have so much concern for.  They make the child sound like a prize in a cheap TV contest.  I didn’t get the baby but I won the electric kettle.

There are no bidding wars for children, except in the fevered imaginations of the Ionanists.  This sort of nonsense is the modern equivalent of the despicable Hello Divorce, Bye Bye Daddy nonsense of the 90s and it plays to the silliest fears of Middle Ireland, which of course is the constituency identified by Iona as the one most likely to deliver a result.

hello divorce bye bye daddy

Secondly, the decision on who gets custody of a child will be made on the basis not of sexual orientation but on who is more suitable to adopt.  It might be the heterosexual couple, it might be the same-sex couple and it might be a single person, depending on the individual circumstances.  To suggest otherwise is both a cynical attempt to stir up fear, and also a vote of contempt for the professionalism of the Adoption Board.

Iona worries

I don’t know why Breda O’Brien or David Quinn are so obsessed with what goes on in families, given the near-certainty that they have never personally experienced any sort of dysfunctionality or abuse, but they certainly seem to have an inordinate mistrust of normal decent people, a mistrust so strong that families need to be regulated by law.

This morning on RTE, Breda had her wife-swapping sodomites moment, when Audrey Carville pressed her on a fact of Irish life.  I’ll paraphrase for brevity.   Parroting the usual Iona line about the need for a mother and a father, Breda found herself stuck for words when confronted with a hard question.  Being asked hard questions is not a common experience for either of the Iona spokespeople on Irish media.

Isn’t it a fact, said Carville, that grandmothers have, for generations, raised their daughters’ children where the father was absent?

Breda tried to spin it as a tragedy that fathers were missing, but Carville pressed her.

What’s the difference to the child? What difference is there between being raised by a grandmother and mother, and being raised by two other women?

Despite Breda’s evasions, Audrey Carville stuck to the question.  What is the difference? until eventually Breda’s mask slipped and she spat back an acid rejoinder: Should we allow mothers to marry their daughters?

It was a comment as remarkable for its nastiness as it was for its sheer stupidity, but it also revealed an interesting fact.   The anti-equality lobby are on a script, and it doesn’t take much to knock them off it.  They’re not actually that impressive, despite calling themselves an Institute, which would be illegal in most European countries.

Nevertheless, Breda had a minor victory, even if it was at the cost of looking like a complete fool.  She succeeded in making the debate about children, even though marriage equality has absolutely nothing to do with that.

Yesterday on TodayFM, David Quinn produced a bizarre moment when he seemed to suggest that there would be competition for IVF between straight and gay couples in a weird Battle of the Ovaries, and when he detected the nation laughing at him, went on to quote German law, appearing to forget that the discussion is about the Irish constitution.

As I said, they’re not that impressive when you get behind the bluster.

Here’s their problem.  Iona have been outflanked by the bug-eyed bigots, like Catholic Voice.  They can’t afford to be seen as outright homophobic, drooling fundamentalists, and therefore their options are limited.   It seems they’ve staked out the ground they intend to fight this battle on and that ground is adoption.

Well and good.

Every time you hear Dave and Breda talking about children, remind them that the dreaded gays can already adopt, and that the referendum is about marriage.

This anti-equality lobby isn’t all that impressive when you get behind the memorised script.


All articles on the Iona Institute



Religion Sexuality

Same-Sex Marriage — Anti-Equality Lobby Recruit The Brady Bunch

Get used to the phrase Mum and Dad. You’re going to be hearing it a lot in coming months from the likes of the Iona non-Institute.

Every child has a right to a Mum and Dad.  Not a Ma and Da, mind you, or a Mammy and Daddy.  No.  Every child has the right to a nice, middle-class, Iona-approved Mum and Dad with a Qashqai for Mum and a Range Rover for Dad, a full orthodontics plan, an architect-designed town-house in Dalkey, three holidays a year and a place booked in the Rock.  Just like this Brady Bunch on the Iona website, the Ionanist genetically-approved überfamilie.

iona family

The Ionanists will be misquoting research, as they did at the Constitutional Convention.   They’ll be talking about children.  You’ll hear Iona shills on tv talk-shows insisting that marriage is all about the children, which is very bad news for post-menopausal women and men with vasectomies.  Obviously, to be consistent, the Ionanists should really be opposing such marriages too.  No wedding day for you, lads and lassies.

But of course, it’s all a distraction, since this new strategy by the anti-equality lobby is completely irrelevant.


Because right now today, single people can adopt children.  No Mammy and Daddy there.  Oops, sorry.  No Mum and Dad.

That’s the law today.  Right now.

And same-sex couples right now today can legally have IVF.

Let’s assume that the Ionanists already know this.  After all, they’re not fools, or at least, not in the conventional sense.

That forces us to the inescapable conclusion that they’re liars, trying to stir up hysteria against same-sex marriages because the very idea scares the emotionally-impaired daylights out of them.

Conclusion: next time you hear some anti-equality fundamentalist talking about children, tell them it’s too late.  Tell them the dreaded  queers can already adopt and they can already conceive.  That’s done.  That’s dusted.

Tell them this: You have a dog in the wrong fight, fool.



Action needed from government



What exactly is the Iona Institute?

Same-Sex Marriage, Iona Nonsense and the Constitutional Convention

Iona Institute Does Not Qualify as A Tax-Exempt Charity

Iona Institute and Miss Panti — Analysing the Anatomy of Defamation

Same-Sex Marriage: Rónán Mullen Accidentally States The Case Against Adoption

Official: John Waters Is Not Osama Bin Laden

Same-Sex Marriage

Misinformation Techniques


2014 on Bock the Robber

It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it?  A year of three halves, you might say.

Ireland won the Six Nations in a fitting finale to BOD’s career and the women’s rugby team beat New Zealand. Katie Taylor won a fifth consecutive world boxing title while Andy Lee won his first.

Ivor Callely went to jail, which is always good for a little schadenfreude chuckle, but the country sighed a collective groan of disappointment that Seanie Fitz didn’t follow him to the slammer.

To our credit, we told Garth Brooks to fuck off, despite his cringe-inducing country ‘n’ western speech about crawling and begging , but Bono somehow crawled through the net, entering your head from your newly-bought Apple product, like an insipid, lecturing little chest-burster with less personality.  A self-righteous ear-worm sans pareil.  He surfaced again later in the year with a badly-received reprise of his 1985 shared ego-wank with Geldof, Do They Know It’s Christmas?  which went down like a bag of Ebola with Africans everywhere.  Not that I’m suggesting all this karma threw Bono off his bike in Central Park or anything like that, but sometimes it’s nice to fantasize.

We had Pantigate, in which a self-important bunch of ultra-right Catholics huffed and puffed at RTE after Rory O’Neill, aka Miss Panti, spoke the truth about how he felt.   And RTE caved in under their vacuous legal threats, handing out a huge pile of licence-payers’ cash to people who would never have sued if they had been challenged by a broadcasting company with any backbone.  Many among us speculated that there might be something rotten at the heart of our national broadcaster, but in the end, the real loser was the absurd Iona Institute which came out of the whole debacle looking even more ridiculous than when it went in, even if it was a few bob better off.

Not only did Iona provide a masterclass in bad PR, but they also exposed the fact that they don’t qualify for tax relief as a legitimate charity.

Meanwhile, Rory went on to international acclaim for his magnificent Noble Call as the entire world acknowledged his experience of homophobia.

It probably wasn’t David Quinn’s greatest triumph as a PR mastermind.

It wasn’t a great year for the Guards, or Ministers for Justice.   Surprisingly, the formerly socially-aware Alan Shatter allowed himself to be drawn into a petty row, revealing a small-minded side to his character few of us suspected when he tried to score a political point against independent TD Mick Wallace by revealing private information he could only have received from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.  It reminded the nation yet again that committed radical campaigners become embedded in the establishment when they move over to the dark side.

Unfortunately for Shatter and for Callinan, both of them would be gone in the blink of an eye.  Callinan could hardly have suspected that his gung-ho performance before a Dáil committee would provoke such a public outcry and he certainly would never have foreseen the dreadful moment when he had to decommission himself, but that’s what happened.  Likewise, Shatter could hardly have imagined, in his ultimate hubris, that he too would be dragged down.   In many ways it was unfortunate, since Shatter was the first ever justice minister prepared to take on the vested interests of the legal professions and break the monopoly that has prevented so many citizens from obtaining justice.

But one way or another, it’s still time to reform the Garda following the Guerin report and the Garda Inspectorate report on our national police force revealing deep problems.

It was the year of the CRC scandal, in which all charities were unfairly tainted   A spin-off of the Fianna Fáil Drumcondra Mafia, the Central Remedial Clinic damaged the fundraising efforts of every legitimate charity in the country.

And it was the year of Rehab, when the entire country recoiled at the snout-in-the-trough attitude of certain organisations.  As a by-product, the well-intentioned report into the CRC gave us a world-beating example of Hiberno-officialese, the local and even more impenetrable variant of a worldwide barrier to understanding.

Meanwhile, here in Limerick, things were hotting up on the cultural front, with a ludicrous confrontation in a local hotel.  A farce within a farce, wherein the usual local sectoral interests jockeyed for position in a parochial power-play.  A joke in which a local impresario tried vainly to exclude the press.  A comedy in which the same impresario vainly wandered around the crowded room with the roving microphone in search of the plant who was supposed to speak out on his behalf but who found himself on the wrong  end of a pint down in the bar and forgot to turn up.


As things worked out, the popular uprising made for a far better year in Limerick, with the apparatchiks and the opportunists talking a back seat for the time being.  It was an event that not only vindicated Karl Wallace’s vision, but provoked profound questions.  Naturally, of course, those who had sneered at the idea of Royal DeLuxe were the first to march in the public parade when the iconic Granny strode the streets of Limerick.  I thought Pat Cox looked very fetching in his t-shirt as he waved at the crowds.

In the end, we emerged stronger from it, with new connections, new entanglements and new collaborations that we’ll carry into the future thanks to our new friendships.

Louise O’Keeffe won a groundbreaking decision in the European Court of Human Rights, forcing the State to accept responsibility for abusive teachers in Irish primary schools.   It was a hugely-significant decision, since it forced the State to accept responsibility for schools that for years had been regarded as owned by the Catholic church.

Sadly, the government offered a deeply inadequate settlement to the victims of teachers in these schools, leading Louise O’Keeffe to describe the offer as discrimination of the highest order.  This case hasn’t gone away, by the look of things.

This was the year of the local elections, when candidates sought your vote to do things they had no authority over.  This was the year when anti-everything candidates asked you to vote them into office even though what they claimed they’d do had no connection whatever with the role of a councillor.   Here in Limerick, we decided to put forward a proper local candidate, John Steele.

To quote from his literature

Unlike the council candidates who fraudulently claim to have some role in education, policing, agriculture, fisheries, employment, social welfare or water supplies, John Steele admits that a councillor has no power, no authority and no influence.

Steele’s challenging campaign poster pushed a simple message.  Vote for John Steele.  He’ll do fuck-all.

It touched a chord among the public and the candidate would have swept the boards if it hadn’t been for his drunken indifference.

Next time, a decision has been taken to put forward a sober candidate with no policies who promises to do nothing.

Sadly, 2014 continued Ireland’s disgraceful treatment of women.  A young pregnant rape victim seeking asylum was prevented from travelling for abortion and instead was detained, force fed until the foetus was viable and then the girl was forcibly cut open against her will to deliver the child of her rapist.

That was because doctors were terrified of the 8th amendment to the constitution, just as they were when later they kept a decomposing dead woman on a ventilator as a human incubator.

This is the year when we discover that 800 babies were dumped into a hole in the ground by nuns at Tuam and as the year ends, Irish people are beginning to realise that the constitutional imperatives imposed on them by extreme religious ideologues have failed to serve the country well.

Internationally, the Israeli murder of Gaza citizens was as usual misrepresented as a war.  The  continued genocide was accompanied by an unrelenting propaganda assault by the Hasbara, denying what was obvious to anyone with eyes in their head: defenceless people were being killed by an overwhelming military force.  It all depended on selling the Big Lie, which Israel is quite adept at doing, but ultimately the Liar’s Manual was inadvertently released, to the disgust of the Israeli Authorities.  Taking a dispassionate view, the Global Language Dictionary was a masterpiece of doublespeak, even if it meant dismembering innocent children in the name of Israeli nationalism.  It appeared on BTR here.

On a personal level, I buried the hatchet with Freddie White and I went to Nomshtock. .

In the world of insanity, Spain awarded a medal to the Virgin Mary, Psychic Sally sacked her husband and North Korea attacked a film company for laughing at their ludicrous Dear Leader.

Lots more happened besides this, but this is a random selection from Bock the Robber and you know what?  If you think I should have written some more, why don’t you do it yourself?



Favourites Religion Society

Same-Sex Marriage: Rónán Mullen Accidentally States The Case Against Adoption

Rónán Mullen was on RTÉ radio yesterday, expressing his views on same-sex marriage.  Or to be more precise that’s why he was invited, but for some reason best known to himself, he filled  at least 40% of his slot (I hope nobody finds that wording offensive) with a rant about the biased nature of RTÉ coverage, as he perceived it.  That in itself struck me as a bit odd, considering the fact that three out of the five panellists were against same-sex marriage, but that’s Rónán for you.  Never waste the opportunity to moan about media bias when your argument is full of holes.

I didn’t pay too much attention to Rónán because I was driving, and I find his slithery lack of logic a danger to my personal safety when trying to control a motorised vehicle, but yesterday he got my attention for all the wrong reasons. the principal one of which was the utter stupidity of the point he was attempting to make.

Perhaps it was because he knows in his heart that there’s nothing wrong with two people making a lifelong commitment to each other, or perhaps it was because he knows full well that the anti-SSM position is nonsense, I don’t know which it is, but Rónán obviously had a rush of blood to the head when it dawned on him that  he’d used such a significant chunk of his slot bitching  about the media.  Either way, when his chance came round again, he lapsed into Iona-speak and began to talk about how desirable it is that children would live with their biological parents, as if that was something any of us opposes, or as if it had anything whatever to do with same-sex marriage.

What Rónán, bless him, didn’t seem to realise was that his entire rant was against adoption rather than same-sex marriage.  It’s true that adopted children, and those of separated people  don’t live with their biological parents, but what he failed to explain was how same-sex marriage was going to prevent biological parents from living together if they chose to do so.

He still hasn’t explained how that mechanism works, any more than the ludicrous Iona Institute has.  If the queers are going out there stopping people from raising their own kids, I think Rónán owes it to the Irish people to explain how they’re doing it.  I asked him on Twitter but he didn’t reply.

ronan mullen same sex marriage

Why would an educated man like Rónán not share this vital information with us?  He’s a senator, after all, elected  (well, not really – he’s an NUI nominee) to the Upper House of our national parliament.

He’s one of our leaders. All right.  Not that really, either, but still.  He’s, well he’s something, I think.

Still, though, despite his rather tenuous claim to be a public representative, wouldn’t you think Rónán would at least answer a simple question?

How does same-sex marriage prevent parents from raising their children?

It’s not a complicated question.  I imagine a man of Rónán’s considerable intellect should have no difficulty answering it, since he brought it up in the first place.