Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Neo Liberalism Irish Style - the fight back begins?

Dan McLaughlin, Chief Economist of the Bank of Ireland, released a statement today saying that his comments made on Questions and Answers on Monday night were made in a personal capacity and he should have indicated this before making them. I can't find it online yet but it was read out on Liveline earlier today.

You can watch Dan's comments here. He supported Irish Ferries actions in outsourcing workers and said that it was the result of a capitalist economy, its the way of the world. The neo-liberalism was chilling and it seems that many in the Irish Public are starting to reject it taking hold. I doubt you would find many politicians willing to make similar comments and maybe that is the role of the pundit. But the economist pundits better watchout on the impact on those who pay their wages.

Yesterday following the comments, some customers went to the bank and cancelled their accounts. Would today's apologies have anything to do with this?

As I said earlier in the week this strike is about money and profit for Irish Ferries and as Patricia King from SIPTU said on the programme it is now about a 'threshold of decency below which we won't go.'

Eamon Delaney who also appeared on the show has not escaped comment. Christy Moore called him a pup on Today with Pat Kenny this morning. And he made comments about human rights, exploitation and union breaking and has re-introduced Connolly was there to his repetoire. (You can hear him sing it on Today with PK). (Delaney's comments on George Best will have another post from me when George is laid to rest, which is something Delaney could have thought about.)
Whatever about the Celtic Tiger and making money and buying houses and 2 holidays a year etc. I don't believe the majority of Irish people support the exploitation of Eastern European workers. Or the sacking of Irish workers and replacing them with what amounts to slave labour. This is not about the death of the Trade Union movement as many on the right would have us believe, its now about human rights, the money in peoples pockets and the precedent which is being set. Wages of €3.60 or even minimum wages will not pay the mortgages or the holidays or the education costs of Irish based workers.

Why bother?

There are reasons why I posted the text of the Vatican document on the criteria of vocational discernment regarding persons with homosexual tendencies on the blog.

I have not completely lost the plot and will expand on them later following several decades of the rosary and reciting the angelus. (ok I am off to make the dinner)


Like a few other queers I know where I was when I first heard the words used in the letter of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith authored by Cardinal Ratzinger to Bishops in the US in 1992. Entitled 'Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on Nondiscrimination of Homosexual Persons,' it said that

It is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account
when making laws concerning adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches and in military recruitment.

But the contents that further hurt many people were the words 'morally disordered' and 'intrinsically evil' when referring to homosexuals.
13 years on, the document published today after many months of leaking is more carefully written. But its clear that its still couched in hatred and homophobia.

Regarding acts, it teaches that, in Sacred Scripture, these are presented as grave sins. Tradition has constantly considered them to be intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law. These, consequently, may not be approved in any case.

Concerning profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, that one
discovers in a certain number of men and women, these are also objectively disordered and often constitute a trial, even for these men and women. These people must be received with respect and delicacy; one will avoid every mark of unjust discrimination with respect to them. These are called to realize the will of God in their lives and to unite to the Sacrifice of the Lord the difficulties that they may encounter.

...The above persons find themselves, in fact, in a situation that gravely obstructs a right way of relating with men and women.

That last sentence is most telling, nowhere in the document will you find mention of children or paedophilia. It is clear that the document feels that gay priests or priests with deep seated tendencies are not able to relate to other humans in the proper manner whatever that might be.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said on several occasions recently that this document and general church policy is egalitarian, active heterosexuals are also precluded from ordination. But this document does not talk about them. Heterosexual priests are not banned from ordination, how deep seated will the heterosexuality be before one is banned from ordination? Indeed in many parts of South America one cannot be a priest or respected by your parish if you are not an active heterosexual! It's a case if you haven't walked the walk, you can't talk the talk.

Some gay rights organisations maybe satisfied if the policy is applied equally, but that means these groups are sanctioning discrimination! We need to highlight this document as an attack on gays, ordained or not, and yet another attempt to link homosexuality with child sexual abuse and other forms of sexual abuse.

I'm off to mark my right to treatment involving 'delicacy' and give my partner a cuddle. It's all too easy to ignore the document and dismiss it. We need to name the hate and continue to call it like we see it and that includes blogging about it and not just mentioning the local bishops reaction as they are mere minions in Benny's plans for the future.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Vatican document on homosexuals and seminaries-- full text

Vatican document on homosexuals and seminaries-- full text

Nov. 27 ( - The following is an unofficial translation by CWN of the full Vatican document.

Congregation for Catholic Education

Instruction concerning the criteria of vocational discernment regarding persons with homosexual tendencies, considering their admission to seminary and to Holy Orders


Following the teaching of Vatican II and, in particular, the decree Optatam Totius on priestly formation, the Congregation for Catholic Education has published different documents to promote an adequate formation integral of future priests, offering guidance and precise norms regarding their several aspects. In the meantime also the Synod of Bishops in 1999 reflected on the formation of priests in the present circumstances, with the intent to bring to fulfillment the conciliar doctrine on the subject and to render it more explicit and incisive in the contemporary world. Following this Synod, John Paul II published the post-Synodic apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis.

In light of this rich teaching, the present Instruction does not intend to linger on all the questions by nature emotional or sexual that require careful discernment throughout the whole period of the formation. It contains norms regarding a particular question, made more urgent by the present situation, that is that of the admission or non-admission to the seminary and Holy Orders of candidates who have profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies.

I. Emotional maturity and spiritual fatherhood

According to the constant Tradition of the Church, baptized males alone may validly receive Holy Orders. By means of the sacrament of Orders, the Holy Spirit configures the candidate, to a new and specific role, Jesus Christ: the priest, in fact, sacramentally represents Christ, Head, Shepherd, and Bridegroom of the Church. Because of this configuration to Christ, the entire life of the holy priest must be animated by the gift of his whole person to the Church and with an authentic pastoral love.

The candidate for ordained ministry, therefore, must reach emotional maturity. That maturity renders him able to put himself in the proper relation with men and women, developing in him a true sense of spiritual fatherhood toward the ecclesial community entrusted to him.

II. Homosexuality and ordained ministry

From Vatican II until today, several documents of the Magisterium—and especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church— have confirmed the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. The Catechism differentiates between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.

Regarding acts, it teaches that, in Sacred Scripture, these are presented as grave sins. Tradition has constantly considered them to be intrinsically immoral and contrary to natural law. These, consequently, may not be approved in any case.

Concerning profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, that one discovers in a certain number of men and women, these are also objectively disordered and often constitute a trial, even for these men and women. These people must be received with respect and delicacy; one will avoid every mark of unjust discrimination with respect to them. These are called to realize the will of God in their lives and to unite to the Sacrifice of the Lord the difficulties that they may encounter.

In light of this teaching, this department, in agreement with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, holds it necessary clearly to affirm that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.

The above persons find themselves, in fact, in a situation that gravely obstructs a right way of relating with men and women. The negative consequences that may derive from the Ordination of persons with profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies are by no means to by ignored.

If, however, one is dealing with homosexual tendencies that may be simply the expression of a transitory problem, such as for example an adolescence not yet complete, such tendencies must be overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.

III. Discernment of qualification of the candidates on the part of the Church

There are two indissociable aspects in every priestly vocation: the free gift of God and the responsible liberty of the man. Vocation is a gift of divine grace, received through the Church, in the Church and for the service of the Church. Responding to the call of God, the man offers himself freely to Him in love. The desire alone to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive Ordination. It is the duty of the Church— in Her responsibility to define the necessary requisites for the reception of the Sacraments instituted by Christ— to discern the qualification of he who wishes to enter the seminary, to accompany him during his years of formation and to call him to Holy Orders, if he be judged to be in possession of the requisite qualities.

The formation of future priests must articulate, in an essential complimentarity, the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. In this context, it is necessary to reveal the particular importance of the human formation, the necessary foundation of all formation.

To admit a candidate to the ordination to the diaconate, the Church must
verify, among others, that he have reached emotional maturity of a candidate for the priesthood.

The call to Orders is the personal responsibility of the Bishop or the major superior. Holding present the opinion of those to whom the responsibility of the formation is entrusted, the bishop or the major superior, before admitting a candidate to ordination, must reach a morally certain judgment on their quality. In the case of a serious doubt in this respect, they must not admit him to ordination.

The discernment of the vocation and the maturity of the candidate is also a grave duty of the rector and the other teachers of the seminary. Before every ordination, the rector must express his judgment on the quality of the candidate required by the Church.

In the discernment of qualification for Ordination, there is a grave duty for the spiritual director. While being bound by secrecy, he represents the Church in the internal forum. In meetings with the candidate, the spiritual director must especially remember the demands of the Church regarding priestly celibacy and the emotional maturity specific of a priest, as well as help him to discern if he has the necessary qualities. He has the obligation to assess all the qualities of the personality and to ascertain that the candidate does not present sexual troubles incompatible with the priesthood. If a candidate practices homosexuality or present profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, his spiritual director, like his confessor, must dissuade him, in conscience, from proceeding towards Ordination.

It remains understood that the candidate himself has the first responsibility for his own formation. He must offer himself with faith to the discernment of the Church, the bishop who calls to Orders, the rector of the seminary, the spiritual director, and the other teachers of the seminary to whom the bishop or the superior general has entrusted the duty of forming future priests. It would be gravely dishonest if a candidate were to hide his own homosexuality to enter, notwithstanding everything, to Ordination. An attitude so inauthentic does not correspond to the spirit of truth, allegiance, and availability that must characterize the personality of he who believes to be called to serve Christ and His Church in the priestly ministry.


This Congregation confirms the necessity that the bishops, the superior generals, and all the responsible involved fulfill a painstaking discernment regarding the qualification of candidates for Holy Orders, from the admission to the seminary until Ordination. This discernment must be done in light of a conception of the ministerial priesthood in concordance with the teaching of the Church.

The Bishops, the Episcopal Conferences, and the Superior Generals must be vigilant that the norms of this Instruction be observed faithfully for the good of the candidates themselves and always to guarantee to the Church suitable priests, true pastors according to the Heart of Christ.

The Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI, August 31 2005, approved this Instruction and ordered its publication.

Rome, November 4, 2005, Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, Patron of Seminaries
- Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect
- Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB; Secretary

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sailing by

The situation at Irish Ferries continues and this weekend took an even more bizarre twist following the placing of security men on board two ships which were docked in the UK. The ships officers are locked into the control rooms in protest against the move having originally thought that there was a terroist attack taking place.
Claims and counter claims abound about whether the security men are armed with tear gas were made in Irish Media outlets this weekend. In fact, Ah has a good piece about the saga to date.

One of the most interesting pieces of Irish radio in many a year took place on Saturday. The Group Industrial Correspondent of the Irish independent, Gerald Flynn, got into his car, drove to RTE's studios in Montrose and ran to the studio to stand over a story he had written on the presence of tear gas amongst the weapons on hand to the Security guards. You can listen to the programme here.

On Sunday, Flynn wrote again about (registration required) the fact he was standing ver his story. Today RTE reported that Flynn is taking a break from reporting on the story. Irish Ferries are threatening legal action.
The dispute is having a severe impact on exports and imports, however the other ferry companies are growing more angry at the strategy of Irish Ferries to make Irish waged workers redundant and replace them with contract poorly paid Eastern European workers. Stena and Norse Merchant both fly UK flags and pay wages at the appropriate rates and say they have no intention to follow Irish Ferries lead.

An Irish ship flying the Irish flag (for now) sailing on European Union waters between two European Union member states is not bound by EU law or the minimum wage law of either member state. The maritime laws are as old as the hills and nothing can be done to change them.

This dispute may break the partnership agreement which has lead to Ireland's economic success (well so has Charles J Haughey, EU membership, and many other things depending on who you listen to). The Taoiseach makes noises of discontent at the tactics of management but says he is powerless to do anything else. What happened to super Bertie, the firebrigade negotiator of many a strike in the 1980's.

Sociologists will point to the impact of globalisation and this being a prime example. George Ritzer recently spoke in Dublin on outsourcing and Irish Ferries is busy trying to outsource, increase profit and it does not care how it looks it seems from the incidents in the dispute to date. The privatisation of so many industries in Ireland and Ireland's small place in the 'global economy' brings many unpleasant realities for Irish workers. This is globalisation with extra chilli on top given that instead of factories being moved to Eastern Europe or other locations, workers are being moved to a locale in or near Ireland and being paid Eastern European rates.
I don't know how many Irish waged workers (new phrase this - don't know how much I like it!) will express solidarity with Irish Ferries staff and given that we cannot see the workers barricaded into the control room on the ship it will be harder still for them to tell their story. However they seem to have mobile phones, food and power as some of the officers are on the radio from time to time.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Pierre Seel RIP

Doug Ireland writes about the life of the last known gay survivor of the Holocaust to live in France

Friday, November 25, 2005

Vote early and often - give the guy a break - he might score!

Rick O’Shea calls on us to wreck another BBC poll and vote for Peter Crouch as the BBC Sports personality of the Year. For the non-football loving reader amongst ye, Peter is the 6’7 gawky looking Liverpool Striker who can’t score a goal, god love him.

Anyway in the tradition of getting the Wolf Tones and A Nation once again voted as best song of all time, some wit has started an email campaign to get the votes in. Vote here.

A great spat not only a good spat.

I missed Dunphy on Keane on RTE on Wednesday. I thought that it might appear on a blog somewhere and thanks to Infact, ah! we have all 13 minutes of Dunphy in full flight on one of his favourite subjects and the preceeding goading by Brady and Bill O'Herlihy. Thanks lads. You trying out for Ireland's version of Crooks and Liars? We have general elections, leadership heaves, football managers spats, the possibilites are endless.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Lunching for Equality

Today’s lunch to raise funds for the KAL Case and KAL Advocacy Initiative was a very impressive affair. You can read more about the KAL Case and initiative here. A full house in Fire with a veritable who’s who in terms of lgbt glitterati and numerous others. Our table was made up from women from Sapphic Ireland who had clubbed together to buy seats and donate money and also support other women who could not afford the €100 a plate.

It was a very different take on being queer in Ireland. I fully support the KAL initiative, especially the advocacy campaign that is planned to accompany the legal challenge being initiated by Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan. However there were times at the lunch today where I wondered where many of the lunchers were during previous struggles, the Fine Gaelers, the PD’s, and other well off and powerful straight individuals in Irish society.

There is no doubt that Katherine and Ann Louise are a deeply committed and compassionate couple who are well known and highly regarded for their work in human rights, public policy, theology and community development. I would hope that commitment to supporting the campaign from supportive and well connected straight people will be more that financial.

We need more heterosexual allies to speak out and take on the issue of discrimination against lesbian and gay people in Ireland and lesbian and gay relationships. Many of us have walked the walk on divorce, abortion, and so many other issues. I’m not quite saying its payback time, but if hearts and minds and laws and human rights are to change it can’t be queers alone calling for change. This is about so much more than putting your hand in your pocket or going to the drinklink or the chequebook which I think is one of the reasons behind launching KAL in the first place.

The other point of note today were the number of lesbians in the room. Very successful, talented women who are seen at numerous gatherings and social events and operate in many levels and strata of Irish society. Very visible, intelligent and connected women. Pity some of the men have not seen that in terms of developing lgb leadership and maybe in the 21st century there will be less tokenism and more equality in lgb community development and public policy visibility in Ireland.

Roll on the next fundraising event for the KAL Advocacy Initiative in the new year which will be a more accessible and possibly more entertaining monster pub quiz!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Same Sex partnerships Post No. 1

When a political party says it believes in equality and champions itself as an egalitarian party one would think that its policies would promote equality and so would its spokespersons.

All the major political parties in the Republic have said that they believe that same sex couples should have their relationships protected under the law. There have been varying degrees of recognition in these statements. Most of this has emanated without consultation with lesbians and gay men and also in the absence of a representative lobby which consults with its community and knows what people want.

With less than two weeks to go before the first civil partnerships take place in the UK the debate this side of the border has been stultified this year while Bertie Ahern parked the issue at the All Party Committee on the Constitution. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform says that same sex couples do not want marriage and there is no sign yet of any legislation being tabled which addresses the issue.

The Deputy Leader of the Labour Party has joined what debate there is in saying the Party does not advocate marriage for same sex couples. What is the word marriage the code for? What great alarm springs to the mind of politicians when marriage is mentioned? What do politicians actually  know about the lives of lesbians and gay men in Ireland in the 21st century?

Now the Labour Party leadership has not asked anyone what they want or consulted the membership on what it believes. The LGBT section is instigating discussion to change party policy and one hopes that the party’s mind is not made up already without actually checking out what the facts are.

I don’t want to get hung up on the M word. The Civil Partnerships Act in the UK covers every thing – all this issues and is just called something else. The only flaw is that it’s only for lesbian and gay couples but people seem to be just getting on with it. Politicians have said that it is everything bar the M word – all the same rights including protection for children. If I heard that level of understanding and respect from Irish politicians I would be happy. However no Irish politician has got that far yet.

A lack of consultation and also a  lack of lobbying and research leads to a fear and ignorance about adoption and same-sex couples. The M word seems to mean children and it seems  a step too far.

The ignorance I refer to is the ignorance about same sex families in Ireland who are parenting already or trying to start families. The ignorance is about the fact that the eggs and sperm of many queers work – coming out of the closet does not make one automatically infertile or remove the desire to bring up a family. The ignorance is also about the role of non-biological parents and their lack of rights under the law.

The anti-gay brigade would have the politicians believe that same sex couples will adopt every child in the world if they are let and turn them into queers too. Now I have not heard a politician say that yet but no doubt they are being told it. They don’t seem to realise that those couples who desire protection for themselves and/or their families have many ways of having a family.  

If political parties and the queer rights lobby did some consulting they would find many queers who just want what everyone else does. Security and a future and respect and commitment from the society.  They might find a growing number of celtic tiger homos and dykes who are fed up supporting straight society and getting nothing back in return. They might find the families of these queers also fed up at their sons and daughters being ignored by the state and being told your relationships are different, too different for us.

Being told that very few same-sex couples want marriage without actually checking what the politicians mean by marriage never mind those who wish it is not going to get votes for the parties.

Ah but its not queer votes they are worried about, given Bertie’s new found position as spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Ireland its clear which audience he will be playing to for some time yet. And Liz McManus plays to the same audience too.  The negative tones about gay relationships are being set from the start, rather than celebrating them and welcoming them, these relationships are being told that they are not good enough and they will never be good enough. A change in wording and attitude is all that is needed to stop those in same sex relationships being, feeling and appearing as second class citizens. However it seems that the path of a queer to a family, a future and a right to family life will continue to be on the margins and with many potholes and pain.  

No party will take on the issue – actually there is not much to take on, but no party is really listening and few are doing the talking either.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Premature Fitzmas day mark 2 celebrations

Switching on the TV tonight I spied Patrick Fitzgerald live on CNN giving a press conference. Oh thought I! The second day of Fitzmas!!!!

Nah he was only indicting Conrad Black. (Couldn't give a hoot at the moment whatever Black was up to) So no Rove or Woodward or other Plamegate indicting today and maybe never???

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nally Case continued

I have not had the chance to blog surf much in the last few days to see if there has been much more said on the Nally case. Damien adds his kilobytes worth here. (Yeah I would use others to counter other that UI, Damien, you find them I'll chop them up, oooh where are the Freedom Institute heads on the matter? Nah don't tell me, life is too short!)

At about 2 am this morning I took to the bed and heard a rebroadcast of an interview that Mr. Nally gave to Galway Bay FM which seems to have been syndicated around the local radio stations in Ireland. (This interview was being aired on LMFM’s Loosetalk programme which is repeated at 2am)

The one thing that leaped out at me was the fact that Nally said he had not said anything to the victims family and what he would say is that they should start behaving and acting responsibly.

I know that Nally expressed some remorse in court but if this is what he was saying in the media it says a lot more to me about his state of mind. Jim Higgins MEP has been saying similar things about Travellers on LiveLine. He said that they have been given rights and need to start behaving and taking responsibility for their actions. Ahem, the rights they were 'given' are human rights and equality Jim, the same that the rest of us have had.

If Nally does accept that he deserved to be sentenced - which he alludes to in these interviews could he also express the view that Marie Ward should be left to mourn in peace and not be faced with death threats?

And as for the fact that Nally has been interviewed on radio and TV before beginning his sentence? Please name others convicted of manslaughter or murder who have received similar star treatment before incarceration and sentencing? Or is it just me who finds this very odd?

Work and stew

I know Morgan wants me to blog more about work and since I am flat out working very hard on 7 different projects at the moment I should have lots to write about! But getting the brain around the seven different projects at same time and thinking about blogging just is not happening. However there might be one or two classic phone conversations to post about at the weekend. On the cooking front – I made stew yesterday – as in mince, onion, carrot, spud, leek and stock cube stew. Throw it on for 2.5 hours and forget about it.  It is on the menu again today as we all know - stew is much better on day 2!

Monday, November 14, 2005


It's a busy day for visits but I can't figure out where they are coming from other than the IP address. Statcounter won't give me the keyword searchers or referral links. Anyone anyidea why it's not working? Or should I reinstall or is there another free meter software I can use?

Blogging sober

Fiona is blogging merry tonight, I am quite sober as I burn the midnight oil report filling.

  • I don't want to see a mobile phone shop for at least 6 months but I fear I will be in 5 more this week. Can't possibly say why but its for work and nothing else but I have earned my masochism Girl Guide badge. And as for the popcorn eating sales consultant? (evil laugh)
  • I do think some aubergines need to be sweated. The Parmigiana Melanzane tonight was a bit on the bitter side.
  • Liz McManus the deputy leader of the Labour Party said yesterday at a party seminar that the party does not advocate gay marriage. So glad I was working and not present to hear this....

'How our proposal to “recognise and respect the family not based on marriage” could open the door to gay marriage I do not understand. It seems to me that the majority on the committee were reacting to the proposal more by way of knee jerk and instinct rather than on any reasonable analysis.

I do appreciate by the way that there are sections in the gay and lesbian community who may wish to go further than Senator David Norris does in his Civil Partnership Bill and would wish for full equivalence, both as regards rights and obligations and as regards terminology, between marriages as presently
understood and gay unions.

That does not seem to me, however, to be a feasible proposition and it is not one that the Labour party advocates. We do fully support the civil partnership proposal.'

I wonder how many lesbians and gay men she has talked to? As many as Michael McDowell? Labour all about feasibility, not a lot about choice and equality. There will be more to come on this in the next while no doubt

  • Since I am not married nor really want to be I did not receive gifts of poetry, willow or leather today. But I got a kiss!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

What's in a word?

Richard Delevan has an excellent analysis on Bertie Ahern's response (Irish Independent - registration required) to Liz O'Donnell's comments. Delevan concentrates on what should make one feel 'disappointment' and he wrote the piece before Bertie's press office clarified that the word 'betrayal' was in the notes and not spoken by Bertie. (not that it makes it any different anyway - Bertie's defence of the church does not judge the mood of the nation well at all.)
Delevan also looks at the disentanglement of Church and State and some other issues from the Ferns report which have not received the coverage they should have in recent weeks.

The 'we didn't know at the time' brigade have been out in force despite the fact that the Ferns report highlighted insurance policies that were taken out by Diocese's to protect them against claims of abuse. The debate about who runs schools in Ireland and who owns them will no doubt include many who say the lay people now run schools. The future of who runs Irish education is as much about the souls of the children as it is about the ownership of the buildings and the land they are built on.
I know that not much happens in Irish Catholic Schools without the imprimatur of the Bishop or the local Parish Priest. In the last 10 years my presence in some catholic and multi-denominational schools has led to
  • crisis meetings of Boards of Governors,
  • threats by staff to resign if I was not allowed in
  • and the presence of staff and parents during the sessions I ran to protect the morals of the children.

All these incidents involved either the chair of the Board of Management (a priest), or other church appointed board member, or the local parish priest expressing concern that I and a colleague were invited to speak about being lesbian or gay in Ireland.

The Relationships and Sexual Education curriculum first launched in the mid 1990's is still not being fully implemented in Irish Schools, sexual orientation is still not discussed with all Junior Certificate or Leaving Certificate pupils. Nor is it a compulsory/enforceable part of Social and Personal Health Education. Curricula depend on the ethos of the school and the personal inclination of the teachers and the supports provided to them.

Myself and a colleague going into 4 schools a year is not going to make much difference in the long run but the teachers who invited us back in 1994 and continue to invite us to this day are breaking the mould.

The Nally Case

I am sure the Irish blogosphere will hotly debate the Nally sentence in the coming days. United Irelander has already started the Free Padraig Nally campaign. The non virtual campaign itself started on the Late Late Show last night which had a very one sided debate assisted by Tony Martin, the UK version of Nally (well not really but you get the picture.)

I won't go on and on about it all. I think Nally got off lightly, he shot John Ward twice including once in the back as Ward retreated following being beaten 20 times in the head with a stick like one would beat a badger.

And I don't care how many times I hear the phrase 'I'm not a racist but' in the next few days on the radio etc. from those who believe Nally was justified and his sentence is too harsh. If Nally had killed a settled person, I believe we would not be hearing half the rumpus about the severity of the sentence.

Vincent Brown wrote extensively in Village and the Sunday Business Post upon Nally's conviction in July about the many other disturbing features of this trial. The other half said to me that 'murder is murder' this morning when I told her of the story and the coverage - except I had to explain to her that in this case it was manslaughter according to the Mayo based jury.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Night Cat Blogging

No need for cat toys or baskets when a paper bag or two will do!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Brownie is job hunting.

Mike 'You're doing a heck of a job' Brown is finally off the FEMA payroll.
You might remember my incredulity in September to hear of his rehiring as a consultant. Well he has 'left the building'. FEMA is still in a mess.

Liz O'Donnell - laying it on the line...

Today Liz O'Donnell made a speech in the Dáil which is one of the best Oireachtas interventions I have read in a long time. There is passion, cutting analysis and challenge on the issues of the separation of church and state - it is so rare in our parliament indeed our society to hear a politician laying it on the line regarding the power of the church and the failures of the state in dealing with that power.

You might expect it from Michael D. Higgins (such a great orator) or Joe Higgins but from a PD? Well yes probably from a PD as they did start out wanting God out of our constitution. Liz has been very open of her criticisms on the back and front benches, she has said things when others would not say them about development aid, Northern Ireland and other issues.

If you click on Dail Eireann here and pick debates for 2004/5 and click in 9 November you will find her speech in the section on the Ferns Report debate.

(The direct link to the speech may not work so apologies for the maplike directions.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tom Delay is getting around the courts - well his invites are...

Interesting times in the courts in Dublin today.

Tom Delay, (he who was recently indicted) and President Bush (GWB) and their invites to an Irish judge have led to the trial of 5 anti-war activists collapsing in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today. This is the second time this trial has collapsed. The 5 are accused of criminal damage to a US Navy Plane. The judge was asked if he appeared in a photo call with then Governor Bush in the mid 1990's and received invites to the Presidential inauguration in 2000 and 2004. (Delay did the inviting!)

Defence counsel indicated that President Bush will be feature of the trial and said that the trial process must be seen to be untainted.

As for Judge McDonagh:

Judge McDonagh said that he would not "give detailed analysis" of his social history in open court and said that counsel could speak to him in the privacy of chambers."I do not intend to disclose every trip or conference: political, social or otherwise. It is not for publication to the world at large," said Judge McDonagh.

He said the information put forward by the defence was "half right, half wrong" and his social life was not "open to scrutiny".

Sunday, November 06, 2005

How a dodgy looking chicken led to a soup from heaven!

Well I trundled around Dunnes in Clondalkin searching for culinary inspiration yesterday afternoon. I soon gave up as Dunnes is not really the place for inspiration - Superquinn would be better (hears La Bamba shuddering from here) or a farmers market if I lived near such a thing. I put a chicken in my trolley, they were on special offer, quite big and I thought I could spice it up a bit, bung it in the oven and put it with some cous cous or a baked spud and a bit of spinach.

When I got to the checkout I took another look at the chicken and realised there was a reason that it was the only one left on the shelf. It was a bit 'worse for wear' so I handed it back to the woman at the checkout and decided to take a gander at the butchers in the shopping centre on the way out for a few chicken legs. The butchers is fairly ok, always clean but not really known for its value other than deals on minced beef. As I eat so little meat these days I probably have only bought something here about 10 times in the 4 years we have lived nearby.

As it was heading for 5pm the staff were beginning the clean up, and the counters were beginning to empty. One thing did jump out at me - ham hocks - the label said Great value @ €1.50. Now I have never bought a ham hock before and not sure if I had eaten it either. Ham joints yes but not a hock. However I saw it and thought 'Nigel will know what to do with a ham hock', took 1.50 out of my pocket and headed home to cook book corner.

And voila..... here it is. A main course soup for a winters day. In the recipe from Appetite, Nigel Slater suggests using the end of a parma ham or a ham hock or for semi veggies some Parmesan rinds snaffled from the generous local deli. (Nigel lives in London with a) local deli's and b) generous ones!)

With dried beans, root veggies and herbs you cook it for 2 hours. As usual he suggests alternatives such as greens, different beans, and more herbs to change the soup with the mood or the contents of the fridge.

I used a mixture of haricot and blackeyed beans and took some meat from the bone and flaked it into the soup and also added spinach leaves 1/2 minutes before eating.

It was gorgeous, much better than one of my lentil soup (sludge) creations and nicely garlicky with the beans having disintegrated a bit to thicken it. No salt needed or anything else of a chemical nature either. The ham was also very good - even better at only €1.50!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Apostrophes and other blogger vagaries

There seems to be a glitch somewhere. I type up most of my blog posts in word and use the blogger tool to upload straight from there, generally if there are no pictures in my post and if I am writing a longer muse. Now my punctuation is being scrambled during the 'beam me up' process. So please don't send me a copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves for Xmas anyone, it's not my fault. Honest!

Too quick on the draw but see the pictures now anyway!

Doonesbury was all ready to comment on the Harriet Miers Senate hearings when she went and withdrew! But  you can still see the week of cartoons that were never published here!

Vive la difference?

Thinking about the riots in Paris and now throughout France in recent days, I am struck by my lack of surprise. Years of underfunding, separated indeed segregated housing, but more importantly policies which refuse to recognise and celebrate the differences have led to my sense of being under whelmed.

There are many who believe the rioting in recent days is just thuggery. Some indicate its about general crime, even drug turf wars. The French Government does not know how to handle the situation or thinks it knows how but only to create greater divisions.

Sociologically the banlieue and migrant youth provide rich grounds for research, and might indeed be over researched by white liberal sociologists. Functionalists also have a field day citing the all the faults of the ghetto and blaming race as the problem rather than racism, and the failures of multi-culturalism. The statistics are very stark, health and housing problems, higher mortality rates, and although there are plenty of education opportunities, the life post education is another matter altogether. One in four graduates of migrant origin in areas such as Clichy-sous-Bois do not have a job compared to one in 25 graduates in the rest of the population.

As a former youth activist I have had another perspectives in terms of learning about activism in French migrant society (this term does not exist officially probably and that's half of the problem - but I could be corrected!)

I have watched and listened to non-migrant politicians and commentators over the years explain that everyone should be together, there is no difference, everyone is integrated, there are minorities disadvantaged ok but they are in the minority.

My experience working and speaking with migrant youth from France in the mid 90's indicated to me that there was no celebration of the difference then and very little now as the ban on religious symbols in schools and other policies continues this.

In 1996 whilst watching politicians in a meeting in Toulouse talk about how wonderful everything was with everyone I watched the body language of the migrant youth representatives telling me otherwise.

Indeed the migrant youth said that they could not and would not take the floor whilst the politicians were in the room. They were fed up being integrated and ignored.

There were also incidents of the good migrant. This was a young person who achieved well in education and entered politics or civil life and was held up as a model citizen. (I have heard similar terminology being used regarding Travellers, the settled Traveller as a term referring to 'good' Travellers who live like everyone else in a house and therefore 'behave'.

A friend from France emailed a list I am a member of today and summed up the situation thus today:

The Minister for the Interior called rioters 'scum', the Prime Minister cancels his trip to Canada and meets some young people from the effected areas (not a regular occurrence!) and the French 'elite' navel gaze through the crisis.

It all seems a long time since the much triumphed World Cup winning team of 2002.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A legacy

The funeral of Rosa Parks was a truly remarkable event. A white hearse is currently moving to the cemetery after a 6 hour funeral where there were more than 30 eulogies and much preaching, praise and singing.

It was a great event to honour an amazing woman. However what struck me most are the interviews I watched online with the general public in Detroit who placed the importance of Rosa Parks in context. Young people talked about their opportunities of housing and education and their rights. Older women talked about how they had to attend separate restaurants and drinking fountains. Some also mentioned the fact that they and others take equality for granted and her death and reminders of her legacy have made them realise that they should continue to strive for rights and equality.  And more still reflected an anger that discrimination continues in many ways in US society. Detroit, where Parks fled to following harassment in Alabama, is seen as the most racially divided city in the US.

It was a bit like a Democratic National Convention in terms of who was there – including Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton (both potential presidential candidates of the future?) and many others paid tribute.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Massaging figures and the news...

David Blunkett has a sign attached to his back saying kick me. Well he doesn't but he might as well have. Where are the advisors in his life or has he sacked them. Whatever about his private life, the decision to take a directorship in a DNA testing company so soon after resigning as Home Secretary and doing DNA tests to establish the parenthood of a child was extremely illjudged.

But there are other stories behind the story according to Polly Toynbee in today's Guardian. Blunkett is resisting pressure from Blair to cut Incapacity Benefit (IB) - these cuts would affect the sick and disabled and those who don't think they can work. Toynbee points out that the Pathways to Work scheme which targets long term IB claimants is highly successful - this scheme supports people with disabilities and those who have problems keeping work and are also affected by poverty traps. If the job does not work out the claimants can return to Incapacity benefit rather than unemployment payments. Rather than supporting the scheme Blair wants a cut across the board and the Tories quietened. (The same Tories who wanted people put on IB to cut numbers on the dole!)

So it might suit Blair if Blunkett goes (although Blair says Blunkett has his full support... famous last words!) - he can put a Blairite non disabled person into the job and get the cuts through. Wonder what Gordon thinks of it all.