Religion Sexuality

Father Fitz on Same-Sex Marriage

It is many years since I was a young seminarian and an even longer time since I was a little boy, but I will never forget the happy times I spent with Father Pat Farce and Father Maurice Crumb.  (I have changed their names to protect the innocent ha ha).

Father Pat and his curate Father Maurice shared the parochial house, and they got by very well thank you without the help of a housekeeper, for both were excellent cooks and very tidy about the place.

I do not know if I ever mentioned this, but I was born in unfortunate circumstances, and in those days the priests were in charge of deciding what became of such children.  Sadly, that is no longer the case, but back then they sent many a lucky infant to a happy new home in America or Australia and they always found a job for the fallen young women, working in the laundry under the kindly eye of the holy sisters.

For some reason, Father Pat and Father Maurice chose to take me under their wing.  They brought me away from the hospital the day I was born, and took me to live with them in the priest’s house, where I grew up in a happy and prayerful atmosphere.  I could say, in many ways, that I had two Fathers (though of course I also had Our Blessed Mother in Heaven).  You might even say that I became a Father myself under the influence of my two Fathers, though of course none of us was really a father, if you see what I mean ha ha ha.

What is my reason for bringing this up?

Well, you see I was listening to the wireless this morning and I happened to hear that excellent public representative from Galway.  Roman Mullet, I think is his name.  A fine strong Catholic.

It was about that silly proposal to let two men be married and raise children.  He correctly pointed out that two men cannot possibly raise a child because it is against the natural way of things.  He also said that if we allow men to marry, they will deprive children of their natural parents, which is also true and not something I could ever condone.  Besides, they would be drunk all the time.

There is no suggestion of allowing women to marry so I could not follow what he was saying about that, but I am not so sure I agree with him about two women raising children.  Women are natural cleaners and would keep a house nice and tidy for a baby to grow up in.  I remember many of my school friends growing up with their grandmothers and their aunts and it did not seem to do them any harm, so I will have to differ with Mr Mullet on that point, I hope he will forgive me ha ha ha.  Besides, women would never wish to marry each other, since they could never be married in the fullest sense, if you’ll forgive my indelicacy.  Being women.

All in all, I am glad that Father Pat and Father Maurice are no longer alive to see what Ireland has come to.  They would be very shocked at the idea of men living together and taking children away from their mother and father.

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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.


Kafka Revisited. Time to End the Scandal of Direct Provision in Ireland.

Did I ever in my most fevered dreams imagine that I might agree with Rónán Mullen about anything?  And yet, here we are on the same side, united in our detestation for the despicable holding tanks into which we drop those who throw themselves on our mercy.

The Direct Provision system is an echo of the vile, hard-hearted attitudes that pervaded official Ireland from the foundation of the state right up to the present day.  Attitudes that in the past were used to crush and degrade Irish citizens now find new victims in the shape of desperate people fleeing war, oppression and intolerance.

It hasn’t gone away, you know.  Not too long ago, the same cold officiousness forced ninety-seven terrified women to assemble in one town before revealing to them whether or not they had breast cancer.  That was done for administrative convenience and it happened in Ireland seven years ago.

This is the same outlook that generations of public officials have displayed.  This is the attitude that gave us the industrial school scandal, the Magdalene laundry disgrace and now the Direct Provision shame.

Such a narrow, unthinking bureaucratic mindset has bedevilled Ireland since the start and it’s no accident, since in this country, we seem to promote the kind of limited, suspicious-minded unimaginative jobsworths that carry out orders and implement policy without regard to humanity, their own or that of others.  The Dog-Licence People are still in control and the Dog-Licence People care nothing for a child trapped in a soulless hostel without recourse to proper educational facilities or  social contact.  Such people care nothing for those who lose their minds in the Kafka-like netherworld that is the Irish asylum system, a place where nobody tells you anything, where you never know how long you’ll have to be in this limbo, where you can’t find out how your case is doing, how far it’s progressed or who is dealing with it.

You can’t set up a home for your children, you can’t work, you have to eat whatever slop is served up to you by the grasping sub-contractor who runs your containment tank, and if you complain you’re punished by being transferred without notice to another city, disrupting whatever tenuous relationships you might have cobbled together.  You can’t even work to supplement the miserable €19 they hand you once a week.  You have no dignity and no hope because this system is specifically designed to crush you, pour encourager les autres.

Is it any wonder that the rate of mental illness in these places is so high?

Can it really take eight, nine or ten years to assess an application for asylum?  Is that not a monument to incompetence on a spectacular scale? Alternatively, is it not evidence of a nasty, vindictive mindset, bent on deterring those who have the temerity to seek help from the most smug and self-righteous nation on earth?  How proud we are of our donations to worthy causes across the globe.  Even when our economy was in meltdown, we still donated the guts of a billion euros every year to foreign aid, but somehow we can’t find it in our hearts to accommodate those who seek shelter in a humane, decent and respectful manner while we process their applications.

We can’t manage to do the paperwork, sort out who the genuine cases are, identify the economic migrants, isolate any criminals and give comfort to those who have been genuinely oppressed and who now find a new oppression here in this Christian little country.

Instead, we throw the whole lot into a holding centre — the genuinely oppressed, the economic migrants and the criminals.  We force young children to live in the same place as people who may well be abusers, because we don’t bother to find out.   We prefer to let them rot in these disgusting conditions where nobody benefits except the owners of the buildings, who grow fat on the misery of those who must live there.

And while we’re at it, let’s not be so quick to dismiss the economic migrants as scammers, while we walk around in the cheap clothes they and their families made in Bangla Deshi sweatshops, while we enjoy the technology made possible by the minerals ruthlessly exploited in Africa for the benefit of Europeans, while we pop the question to our beloved and whip out a fancy ring with a big sparkling blood diamond.

Let’s look at ourselves before pointing fingers.

It’s always been a great Irish cop-out to blame the system, but of course, the fault lies with flesh-and-blood people who don’t care what becomes of those they treat with Kafka-like indifference.  They have names, these Dog-Licence People.  Tommy and Mike, Jim, David.  Katie, Sarah, Margaret and Sinead.  They have homes just like you and me.   They have money problems like us.  They go to the same matches as us, they wear the jerseys and they put their little ones on their shoulders for a better view just like you and me.  But somehow, when it comes to implementing public policy, they become callous automatons.

Of course, since this is Ireland, there are always people who get rich out of it.  Before the Asylum Appeals Tribunal was set up, there was a panel of assessors who were paid handsomely for their services.  One of these individuals never approved a single appeal but was more than happy to collect the substantial fee for being an impartial judge in the cases of desperate and frightened refugees.  This is also a flesh-and-blood human being who presumably has children and possibly grandchildren.

What’s lacking here?

Do I really need to tell anyone?

Of course not.  For all our vaunted generosity, what we seem to be missing is that essential organ of compassion: a heart.

Simon Coveney has spoken of the need for a conversation on the reasons why asylum seekers are protesting, as if this all comes as a huge surprise to him.  I’d imagine that Simon Coveney, well-brought-up, privileged, decent, urbane individual that he is, would never personally treat anyone the way people in Direct Provision are handled, but his shock seems a little on the faux side, unless this government minister doesn’t possess a radio, hasn’t read a single newspaper or watched a single news report on tv for a decade or more.  And if that’s the case, shouldn’t we be looking for better-informed government ministers?

It’s all guff, of course, which is why I find myself in bed with Rónán Mullen, something few if any can boast.  I’m not sure which of us is more uncomfortable but I hope he’s not a duvet-stealer.

Simon Coveney and his boss Enda Kenny – a man more than ready to shed a tear for injustice when the occasion suits – are well aware of this problem and they know full well how to fix it, so instead of having a national conversation about anything they should just go ahead and do precisely that.

Fix it.


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No Country For Young Women

It’s Back to the Future for Ireland.  The whole country has climbed into a gigantic DeLorean and zapped itself back to the Eighties, where economic depression stalks the land and religious ideologues harangue pregnant women.

Last night on the Late Late show, three women told their stories of discovering that their unborn babies could never live outside the womb.  All of them wished fervently to bear a healthy child, but the reality was that it would never happen.  They asked to have their deliveries induced and they were refused.  In this God-fearing little country, they must bring their babies to full term, in the certain knowledge that those babies will be born dead.

What would you do?  They went abroad and had abortions.

Now let’s be clear about this.  Their babies did not simply have abnormalities, deformities  or disabilities.

In the case of these three women, their bodies were acting as life-support machines for babies that would never have survived outside the womb.  The mothers and fathers of these children give them a name.  They keep photos of the little life.  They grieve for them.  They bury them.  They tell their other children about them, children who also experience the bereavement, and they spend the rest of their lives loving them.  They spend the rest of their lives in a form of mourning that their emotionally-stunted religious detractors can never understand.

Anencephaly is a condition related to Spina Bifida.  It’s a neural tube defect in which the brain does not develop.  The baby shows all the signs of a living child, but has no brain and can in no circumstances exist independently.  When doctors determine that the victim of a road accident is brain dead, they can legally remove the artificial life support apparatus and allow the patient to die naturally, but when a woman in Ireland asks to have a baby with no brain delivered so as not to spend two, three or four months enduring the torture of such a thing, she is told NO.  You will become a life-support machine until such time as that child is delivered.  It matters nothing that you may be destroyed emotionally as a consequence.

That’s how our little republic treats women in such a heartbreaking fix.

It takes us right back to the Sheila Hodgers case, where a pregnant mother with cancer was allowed to die screaming rather than receive pain-killing drugs that might damage her foetus.  That happened in the Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, where so many other women were treated as lumps of meat, attacked, humiliated and defiled by the likes of Neary and Shine.  The Northern Ireland-trained staff nurse who blew the whistle on the extreme Catholic ethos of that hospital was hounded out of a job as a result.

On the Late Late Show last night, these women were called “murderesses”, a ridiculous word, revealing the antediluvian nature of the accuser, but that wasn’t the only debasement they experienced.  They reported being sneered at by a parliamentarian, Senator Ronan Mullen, who is of course inextricably bound up with the vile Youth Defence and Cóir and all the other manifestations of the Catholic extreme right in Ireland.

Make no mistake: Catholic or not, these people have little interest in  Christianity.  This is all about control.

The current government has had to make extremely difficult decisions on the economy.  While I disagree with many of their policies I don’t envy their task, but here comes the acid test.  Since they seem resolved to impose one savage budget after another, despite the extreme public backlash, will they have the balls to face down these heartless ideologues who would impose such suffering on young mothers?

Will we finally as a nation show some maturity instead of allowing decent, heartbroken women to skulk off like thieves?

Ronan Mullen, shame on you, and all those like you.

This isn’t the Eighties, though.  This time, people have the information and the means to fight back.