The Iona Blog

Opinions contained in The Iona Blog are not necessarily those of The Iona Institute. The Iona Blog is open to anyone who broadly shares the views of The Iona Institute. If you wish to post a comment on a relevant topic please email 200 – 400 words to [email protected] and it will be considered for inclusion in the blog.


Admitting that the natural ties matter after all

By David Quinn on 11 Feb 16. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family,Other

When you can’t have a child of your own, is it better to adopt or use a surrogate? This is the question a gay couple ask of an upmarket agony aunt in the New York Times magazine. The couple’s concern (and it is a concern that could just as easily apply to a straight couple) is that they would prefer to use a surrogate so that the child has a biological connection with one of them. They wonder if this is selfish. This, and the answer given, acknowledges the importance of the natural ties.


The latest very flawed rulings of the Broadcasting Authority (part 2)

By Dr Tom Finegan on 8 Feb 16. ~ Categories: Other

The previous blog dealt with a complaint the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) rejected in relation to a RTE Ray D’Arcy Show item on the marriage referendum. This blog focuses on another complaint made in relation to the same show but this time on an item which dealt with abortion. Again, the BAI gets it badly wrong.


The latest very flawed rulings of the BAI

By Dr Tom Finegan on 3 Feb 16. ~ Categories: Other

Last week the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) released its latest batch of decisions relating to complaints made against broadcasters. Very often the complaints allege that a particular broadcast failed the test of objectivity and impartiality. The BAI upheld none of the five complaints it investigated. Two of the complaints related to RTE’s Ray D’Arcy Show: one of these objected to how the broadcaster in question handled an item on the topic of gay marriage, while the other objected to how he handled an item on abortion. The BAI’s rationale for dismissing the complaints is deeply flawed and merits criticism.


Constitution does not stop death cert being issued for unborn child in road accident case

By Dr Tom Finegan on 27 Jan 16. ~ Categories: Other

Earlier this week it emerged that an Irish family sought a death certificate for an unborn child killed along with her mother in a horrendous car accident. The coroner declined the request and instead offered to register the death as a stillbirth. The family are taking the matter to the High Court on Constitutional grounds. In public discussions of this case it has been implied that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution (the 8th Amendment) is a serious obstacle to clarity on the statutory personhood of the unborn in cases such as these. This is bizarre.


Correctly understanding so-called ‘fatal foetal abnormalities’

By Dr Tom Finegan on 21 Jan 16. ~ Categories: Other

The last couple of weeks have brought a little bit of clarity to public debate on the medical conditions at the heart of calls to permit greater access to abortion in Ireland. The medical conditions in question result in the unborn baby having a seriously curtailed life expectancy. Pro-choice campaigners categorise these conditions as “fatal foetal abnormalities”. A very significant number of parents who have given birth to a child with one of these conditions prefer the term “life-limiting conditions”.


David Bowie: patron saint of expressive individualism

By David Quinn on Jan 15 2016. ~ Categories: Other

Coverage of the death of David Bowie has been huge, bigger than the coverage of the death of Michael Jackson who sold far more albums. Why has the death of Bowie had a bigger impact? It’s because he had a bigger cultural impact and one reason he made a bigger cultural impact is because, in his early career, he epitomised one of modern liberalism’s biggest values, namely expressive individualism.


UN committee should find against egg and sperm donation

By Dr Tom Finegan on 13 Jan 16. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) recognises the right of a child to know and be cared for by her parents. Ireland goes before the Committee on the Rights of the Child today (Thursday) and the proper understanding of this right, namely that a child has a right to be raised, where practicable, by her natural parents, should be one of the issues discussed at our appearance. Unfortunately, this will not be the case.


How The Irish Times viewed the 1983 pro-life amendment

By David Quinn on 7 Jan 2016. ~ Categories: Other

With the campaign to repeal the 1983 pro-life amendment to the Constitution gathering steam it is interesting to look back at the reasons why The Irish Times opposed that amendment. What is particularly interesting is that its opposition was based not on any apparent belief in the ‘right to choose’, but on perceived inadequacies in the wording of the amendment, and on how the amendment, if passed, would affect relations between the Republic and the Protestant majority in the North of Ireland.


New survey on faith schools can be read in multiple ways

By Dr Tom Finegan on 18 Dec 15. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Often, the most interesting aspect of a survey is not the answers given but the questions asked. One of the first things the newly established lobby group Equate (Equality in Education) did was to commission a poll on people’s views on education and faith schools. But the questions were designed in such a way that it would be hard to answer No to any of them. They are also open to several interpretations.


Spun Out’s very large blind spots

By David Quinn on 15 Dec 15. ~ Categories: Other

Spun Out is a youth oriented website that is funded by, among others, the HSE and the inevitable Atlantic Philanthropies. It says its purpose is “to educate and inform our readers about the importance of holistic wellbeing and how good health can be maintained, both physically and mentally.” That’s a laudable aim, but a quick tour of its website reveals that its view of what leads to “wellbeing” suffers from some pretty big blind spots.


'We must continue to teach the truth about marriage'

By Admin on 10 Dec 15. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Ireland’s most recently ordained bishop, Alphonsus Cullinan, has said that the Church must continue to teach the truth about marriage in spite of May’s referendum result. Dr Cullinan, who is the bishop of Waterford and Lismore, was addressing a meeting of The Iona Institute last month in Dublin. His topic was, ‘Teaching the Truth about Marriage’.


Contrary to NI ruling, there is no right to abortion under Human Rights Convention

By Dr Tom Finegan on 3 Dec 15. ~ Categories: Other

A decision this week by the High Court of Northern Ireland found that the jurisdiction’s abortion law is incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights because it does not permit abortion in pregnancies involving either so-called “fatal foetal abnormalities” or sexual assault. Article 8 deals with the right to privacy and family life. However, the European Court of Human Rights itself has never found a right to abortion under the Convention.


How the new secular prudery is banishing religion from view

By David Quinn on 27 Nov 15. ~ Categories: Religion and Religious Practice

A Church of England ad has been banned from cinemas. The makers of Downton Abbey didn't want religion featured in the series. A new secular prudery seeks to ban any positive mention of religion from our screens and from public view generally for fear it will cause offense.


Twenty years on from the divorce referendum; who was right?

By David Quinn on 24 Nov 15. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

This week sees the 20th anniversary of the referendum that narrowly legalised divorce in Ireland back in 1995. Various media outlets are marking the occasion, chiefly by claiming that the Yes side was right about the effects of the referendum and the No side was wrong. Needless to say, this is too simplistic because each side was right on certain points and each side was wrong on certain points.


Proposed ethics course for primary schools is relativistic in outlook

By Dr Tom Finegan on 19 Nov 15. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

In this blog I look at the “Ethics” section of the proposed “Education about Religious Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics” curriculum which is intended for primary schools. I ask whether it is compatible with faith-based instruction in denominational schools. I argue here that the moral outlook, which very strongly emphasises autonomy and choice is relativistic in outlook.


Why ‘Education about Religion and Beliefs’ will present faith schools with a big problem

By Dr Tom Finegan on 10 Nov 2015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

The National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NCCA) recently launched a consultation paper on a proposed new curriculum for primary schools called “Education about Religion and Beliefs (ERB) and Ethics”. This short piece analyses how likely it is that ERB will be compatible with the current way of teaching religion by primary schools with a faith-based ethos. It argues that ERB will in all likelihood be incompatible with the current way of teaching religion in denominational schools because its pedagogic approach will implicitly endorse an agnostic attitude towards all faiths.


David Quinn debates admissions policy of denominational schools on Claire Byrne Live

By Admin on Nov 2, 2015. ~ Categories: Schools and Education

Iona Director David Quinn appeared on RTE's Claire Byrne Live to debate school admissions policies with barrister Paddy Monahan. The debate focused on the criteria on which school places are allotted in the event of a shortage. David Quinn argued that the State must ensure that enough school places exist for all who want them.


Why do Catholic teachers feel beleaguered by their colleagues in Catholic schools?

By David Quinn on 29 Oct 15. ~ Categories: Schools and Education,Religion and Religious Practice

A report in last week’s Irish Catholic quotes teachers who say it is very hard to talk about their faith in….Catholic schools. The teachers attended The Iona Institute seminar on denominational schools a fortnight ago and spoke during the Q and A session. This news might come as a surprise to some but it shouldn’t. The same tide of secularisation that is sweeping over much of society is sweeping over Catholic schools as well.


Justice Minister signals readiness to relax rules against some incestuous marriages

By David Quinn on 23 Oct 15. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, has signalled her willingness, in light of the passage of the Bill allowing for same-sex marriage, to alter the “prohibited degrees of relationship” that currently bar people marrying those who are considered too closely related. This raises the prospect of relationships until now considered too incestuous being permitted.


Increase in Home Carer's Credit good, but doesn't go nearly far enough

By David Quinn on 16 Oct 15. ~ Categories: Marriage and the Family

Budget 2016 will see the Home Carer’s Credit (HCC) increase by €190 per annum. The HCC was first introduced in 2000 to slightly offset the huge discrepancy tax individualisation created between one income and two income married couples. The increase is good, but doesn’t go nearly far enough.


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