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Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

Life no longer so gay at Ireland’s seminary Maynooth

August 3rd, 2016 Comments off

DO you have that Trumped-out feeling? One can only be outraged, sickened, appalled, and yet entertained, for so long, right? And Trumpetisation has been ongoing for over a year. The topic of DJT has now been banned from my family dinner table. We are just putting our fingers in our ears, casting down our eyes, and hoping that we will wake up on November 9 and it will all have been a nasty dream, and a responsible human being is in the White House.

And just when there’s a need for something new to be exercised about, the Catholic Church obliges.

It’s the decision by Archbishop of Dublin and Good Egg, Diarmuid Martin, to stop sending his trainee priests to St Patrick’s College at Maynooth. Maynooth has for over 200 years been a “pontifical university” (offering courses in theology and related disciplines) and a training college for novice priests. The Archbishop referred to homosexual activity and “strange goings-on” – a rather twee and non-specific term, from such an intelligent man. The media, certain sections of it revelling in this story, have run reports that the gay dating app Grindr was being put through its paces at Maynooth.

Well: maybe you are shocked. But surely not at the idea of gay activity among priests? Perhaps the past two decades have blunted our sensibilities with regard to the sexual activity of the clergy. There have been so many shocking and disgraceful cases of sexual abuse, particularly of children in the care of the Church. But consenting sex among adult males? Is the Church still pretending that homosexuality doesn’t exist, or doesn’t exist among its staff? Read more…

Irish poll gives grist for the mill of endless political speculation

February 29th, 2016 Comments off

Unfortunately for Ireland, it’s not all over bar the shouting.

The 2016 general election was held on Friday February 26, but when and how the new government will be formed is anybody’s guess, and the guessing is going to be prolonged and probably wrong.

That other cliché, about “the people have spoken, but we don’t know what they’ve said”, has been over-ventilated in the days since the election. However Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times had a crack at decoding, and his analysis is worth reading.

Ireland, as most readers would know, was hit savagely by the Great Financial Crisis. Over-reliance on property lending and purchase, particularly by small banks who should have known better, meant that the whole economy came crashing down in 2008. This, post the failure of Goldman Sachs, could be traced back to the spread of derivatives and mortgages for people who could never pay them back, as best described by US author Michael Lewis.

So in Ireland – famously described as “the Wild West of European finance” by The New York Times – imprudent and unregulated behaviour in the banking sector eventually led to the impoverishment of the nation.

However, not all pigs are created equal, and the wealthier pigs generally got off very well. But if you were an Irish person on a small fixed income, with a disabled child, trying to make a living in third-level education or the building industry, you were in trouble. Government cuts appeared to fall mostly on the poor, and the imposition of universal water charges caused a rage and refusal that became durable.

After the crash of 2008, unemployment soared to 15 per cent – and that was only what was admitted. Many people could no longer pay their mortgages, and, seven years later, the full fallout of this was only becoming apparent as more and more families sought emergency accommodation.

So what was happening in Kildare Street, home of the Irish Lower House, the Dail?

The government which presided over the property madness, the “Celtic Tiger” boom, was turfed out at the 2011 election by a furious electorate.

Five years later, however, the party which comprised that government, Fianna Fail, has come back from its decimation and now, two days after the election, holds 43 seats in the 158-seat lower chamber, the engine of government.

The previous incumbent, Fine Gael, holds slightly more seats. The two parties are old enemies dating back to Ireland’s civil war in the 1920s, and once it would have been unthinkable that they would join forces to govern.

But that was then: this is now, with an array of small parties and independents taking a third of the seats in the new Dail – a refreshingly democratic but unworkable mixture. The two big beasts will have to bury their tusks and talk about working together. This is what the pundits have been saying on talk shows in the lead-up to the election, and what the paper of God, The Irish Times, says, not too forcefully, in its editorial on the election result.

Much has been made, almost gleefully, of Ireland possibly joining Europe in a new way, by being one of the countries (see Spain, Belgium) which in recent times have struggled for months to form a workable government following elections.

From this observer’s point of view, the thirst for power, or office, is so strong in the professional politician that, most of them, would sell their mothers to get a toe in any administration.

And that is one of the reasons why the rise of the Independents, on one hand, is a very good thing: such people know they have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being in government , or running a Ministry. But they still want to be there, representing their constituents and making short those who are in power do not ride roughshod over the rights of all.

If democracy is sought, the roots of the word have to be respected: demos, the people, and kratos, rule.

When the people speak, they don’t always do so in neat joined up sentences. That is something we all have to accept.

 


 

 

 

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Universities might stop slipping if they did what they are supposed to

October 5th, 2015 Comments off

 

Oh dear Trinity, you have slipped. The august college in the centre of Dublin is now rated only 160 in the world, according to the latest league table compiled by the Times Higher Education organisation, publisher of the famous Supplement.

UCD is improving, but still lurks at no 176, while NUI Galway lies in the 251-300 group, and University College Cork, embarrassingly, is only in the 351-400 cohort.

These league rankings obsess the managers of Irish third-level institutions, but clearly to little effect. Even though the THE emphasises teaching and transfer knowledge, that doesn’t appear to have transferred to third-level management.

So what does this mean for the much-vaunted claim that Ireland has a young, energetic and well-educated population? The first two are true, largely. But the third …

What’s wrong with Irish universities? As someone’s who’s both taught and studied at third-level institutions here in the past few years, my answer is that nobody cares much about the students.

The “student experience”, as one long-time staffer said sadly to me this week, is the last thing on management’s mind. Read more…

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The Notorious and the Voice of an Angel: ultimate odd couple

July 24th, 2015 Comments off

Weird, wonderful but weird – and maybe wrong?

Conor McGregor tattoo

The championship fight of Conor “The Notorious” McGregor in Las Vegas on July 12, spiked as it was with a heart-rending performance by Sinead O’Connor, studded as it was with Irish flags and chants of “Ole, ole ole ole”, was one of those pinch-me experiences for the witness.

Surely many Irish citizens watching, either payTV, online or subsequently on landline TV, winced at the unabashed depiction of the fighting Irish. Plucky, dangerous lot who lead with their fists, if not their knucklehead. Violence solves everything and is supreme. Don’t mess with us, boyo, ye British jackbooted … etc etc.

It’s disgusting – but also tempting, cleansing, as with any atavistic ritual that does play to feellings deep inside the person, or the collective consciousness.
So maybe that’s why tickets to the event cost €350 and yet there was an overwhelming, obvious take-up by Irish fans. An estimated 11,000 Irish fans made their presence dominant in the vast arena.

Read more…

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2015 Gallipoli evacuation was one big mess

May 12th, 2015 Comments off

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AND so to Gallipoli, for the centenary of the disastrous first World War campaign, in the company of An Uachtarain Michael D Higgins of Ireland.

That’s slightly gilding the poppy, as your correspondent wasn’t in the President’s party, but on the same plane, in steerage rather than the glamour of first-class.

Turkish Airlines are a pleasant carrier, but even the president’s presence didn’t mean we got into the air on time at Dublin.

However that was a minor transport consideration compared to what lay ahead. Read more…

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