Scully's Corner

Monday, 6 August 2012

Gay marriage

My conscience is clear and i've made my decision, whenever we are given the opportunity in referendum to vote on gay marriage i will not hesitate to put an X in the Yes box. By doing so i will feel as though i've pledged my unreserved support ,as will many, for the love two individuals have for each other by tying the knot for a very important commitment, and i do not believe i should deny them. That's what it all boils down to in my opinion, condoning love between two people whether they be hetrosexual or homosexual and wishing them, hopefully, a happy future together. Equals in the eyes of the state. Certainly my party, Fianna Fail, has done more than any other as regards pushing for various forms of gay rights legislation and the vast majority of our members are certainly proud of that achievement, as are the majority of Irish citizens. Now it's up to the present government to go one step further, and though it may pain some, i'll give them credit if they agree to a referendum during the lifetime of this government. Yet certainly and in the meantime  Ireland has come quite far since David Norris's campaign in 1988 which led to the decriminalization of homosexual activity finally in 1993, all the way to the granting civil partnerships to gay couples in 2010, opposed by only four Senators. So we've been progressive in the gay rights arena and going in the right direction. I've always felt strongly that whatever one gets up to in the privacy of his/her own bedroom is of no business of the state, and in my eyes certainly no business of individuals who are 'troubled' by their (homosexual in particular) activity. Once it's not harming anyone and once it's consensual then whatever they do or for that matter whatever anyone else does with their own bodies is of absolutely no interest to me whatsover, and shouldn't be for you.

Giving gay couples the ability to a enter a civil marriage quite simply does not bother me at all,  and i have not been convinced of why it should. That in itself is a reason that i shall vote yes. But the most pertinent question in my mind that i've asked myself was and which might have proved the biggest obstacle was, 'would allowing people of the same sex, marry, in your eyes damage the institution?'. I have to say i've answered that with a resounding no,in fact i believe allowing for a gay couples to enter a civil marriage in my mind could compliment it, ensuring that they are committed to one another for life, and surely that's a good thing for society. Yes granted that allowing for gay marriage in the eyes of the state would result in a 'redefinition of marriage' quite obviously, and that's been used by those opposing it as a bad thing, but i don't believe it necessarily is a such. Haven't we redefined things before, the world isn't going to come to end if we do, those in a traditional marriage won't be threatened by it, where's the threat?  People who already oppose gay marriage no matter if it is passed in referendum or not are not going to suddenly change what they believe marriage to be. To them marriage will always be between a man and a woman and nobody is going to force them to think otherwise, and they're perfectly entitled to believe that if that's based on the tenets of their faith, or otherwise. What they are not entitled to is to force their views upon those who do not share their biblical view, or otherwise. This is not a theocracy. The first country to allow for gay marriage was Holland in 2001, (since then over a dozen countries have recognized it), and twelve years on there has been no threat to force Churches to recognize these unions and there's no sign of that happening there or anwhere else (U.K an exception but i believe something agreed to by both sides of this debate can be arranged).I believe overall the tactic used by opponents to scare some people into believing that allowing gay marriage would inevitably lead to them having to recognise gay marriage is a rouse.The Church or any other Christian denomination or other faith, quite simply is not going to recognise gay marriage  regardless and no matter what comes down the line. This is as i see it is quite simply about offering gay couples the option to enter a civil marriage which has nothing to do with any Church. However proponents of gay marriage must not rest easy. Polls might indicate that 70%+ of the Irish public might support gay marriage but a lot of that support is soft. What they must not do is to be complacent or talk about this battle as a being as good as won, or indeed to paint all those who oppose gay marriage as angry bigots or homophobes. Not only will that hurt the cause but it's a simply lazy catergorization intent to end debate, there are genuine good  people on both sides of this debate and that must not be forgotten. What must be done is to continue to debate this issue with civility and calm, if that happens i've no doubt we'll get the right result on polling day, and as straight man i'll proudly back this particular cause. So give me the ballot paper!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

If Romney wins South Carolina it sets him up for Florida victory and the nomination.

Describing politics as sexy probably isn't appropriate. However I believe if we where to do so, American politics  fits the bill and would come out on top in that regard. What got me interested in politics at a young age in the first place, was not Irish politics, but American politics. In  my opinion there is just no comparison. Irish politics generally speaking I find quite dull, though to give it its due, it has livened up a bit in recent times. The divergance in philosophy between the GOP (Grand Old Party) more commonly known as the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in America couldn't be more stark, and I think for that reason, though there are others, American politics is quite entertaining. While the power of these two great party's might indeed be waning, with 40% of the American public describing themselves as Independent, which might indicate for the most sceptical amoung us that both party's have failed the American people, it still gives the American public a proper and clearcut choice in policy between the two. There is choice between a Republican party which wants limited government, lower taxation accompanied with social conservatism, and a Democratic Party largely not opposed to government intervention, regulation, higher taxation especially for high earners and which is accompanied with social liberalism. That in my mind is a healthy choice for the electorate. It's not wishy washy, people understand where these two different party's come from, and how one diverges from the other.

This stark choice is clear yet again this election season as the Republican primary warms up. This is certainly an election the Republican can win, and they are well aware of this. They scent blood. They are well aware of the low approval rating of the current occupant of the White House, and the fact that no President has won reelection on such a high unemployment figure. Make no mistake the GOP will  make this election a referendum on Obama and the economy. If that tactic succeeds in the General I suspect Obama will be in a weak position to counter. Yes without doubt Obama inherited an economy on its knees, replacing in my opinion one of the worst Presidents in American history, but there is only so much time in which you can blame the former administration for the current state of affairs. To blame the former administration three years into your tenure as President really does not hold water. Especially when for two years, Obama had both a Democratic majority in the House and Senate.  Yes Obama has steadied the ship, unemployment has gone down, the question is, is it by enough to satify the American public and to give him another four years. In my opinion he's done a reasonable job. I'd give him top marks on foreign policy. In fairness though I think most American's were expecting much better from him. Having said that however  i'm still of the belief that President Obama is still the favorite to win reelection, but one thing is for certain. This will turn out to be a more closly contested election than 2008.

What helps Obama too is the relatively weak Republican field. If we where to be entirely honest, the only individual who could plausibly defeat Obama in 2012, is Mitt Romney. Polls continue to support this claim. Obama would defeat every other possible candidate, whereas a Romney versus Obama matchup would practically be a statictically tie, with either one of them in with a shot of victory. While the other candidates in particular Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would rouse the Republican base, which is something Romney has very much failed to do, the Republican base won't win this election. Romney is the only Republican who could attract enough of what i'd deem centre-right Independents and even some disenchanted Reagan Democrats to vote for him, and if he could achieve that he'd win the election. The Republican base given a choice between Obama and Romney, I ultimately believe while certainly in no way comfortable with Romney as their nominee will nonetheless swallow hard and vote for him. With Iowa and New Hamshire in the bag, and a lead in South Carolina, most would have to admit that another Romney victory here will pretty much seal victory for him, even though total declared delegates would have only reached 5% of the total available at that stage. Those remaining in the field simply would struggle to be able to financially compete much longer. A South Carolina victory for Romney would guarantee a Florida win, and logically the only thing then that could really stop him is if  most of his opponents drop out of the race. Leaving either Santorum or Gingrich as the stand only candidate against Romney, would probably result in conservatives coalescing around that candidate in the hope that it would detrail Romney, which is certainly possible. In my opinion though this is Romney's to lose.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


I was born into a family with quite a strong link with the pro-life movement. Relatives of mine would have joined anti-abortion protests down throughout the years, with the intention to make sure the Irish government didn't cave into international pressure outside the Republic of Ireland trying to interfere with our  sovereign Irish constitutions protection of the unborn, thanks to article 40.3.3  passed by a referendum on the issue in 1983,  or equally give into a minority of Irish public who wanted it made legal. Since then we've had numerous other referenda, splitting families and becoming one of the most divisive issues of our time. To be honest i wish the issue would go away. I'm sick of it at this stage and as time has passed i've been more and more unwilling to even discuss the issue. (In fact the last time it was brought up in conversation among friends i ended the conversation immediately) Unfortunately the issue will never dissipate it will never fade. An election in this country is never over before the thorny issue manages to rear its head. It has already happened in the Presidential election, with Gay Mitchell, and his infamous letter defending a man who killed two individuals outside an abortion clinic. Though we must remember his reasoning behind it seems clear, he objects as I do with the death penalty, not with the act of a so-called crazed 'pro-lifer'. Though i've been increasingly unwilling to discuss the issue, my objection to abortion will never waver. I'm not a member of any pro-life organization and don't plan to be ( apart from a pro-life society in my University.) The fact is in a democracy the Irish people, and the Irish people alone should determine our laws, that includes on the issue of abortion, not foreign agents. Thankfully polls have consistently shown that between 60%-70% of the Irish public oppose abortion being made legal in Ireland. When asked in the most recent poll commissioned admittedly by the Pro-life Campaign in Ireland "Are you in favour of, or opposed to, constitutional protection for the unborn that prohibits abortion but allows the continuation of the existing practice of intervention to save a mother’s life in accordance with Irish medical ethics?" 68% of respondents said yes, while 26% opposed it. The Pro-life Campaign is among the numerous pro-life groups in Ireland ensuring that abortion remains illegal in this country. 

My objection to abortion is NOT based on religion. (Not that there is anything wrong with that) While it's welcome news that the Catholic Church and other major religions such as Muslims and Jews oppose it, honestly i don't care. My basic reason for opposing it, is based on both science and reasoning. I believe and the reality of abortion shows that it intentionally destroys a defenseless human being. It's folly for people to advocate for other 'rights' such as a right to an education and healthcare unless you realize that in order to be granted any other right whatsoever you must be afforded the most important right of all, the right to life. The right to come out of your mothers womb alive, which abortion gruesomely prevents from happening. Without the right to life, other rights are meaningless. We must start from the beginning and admit that the right to life IS first and foremost the most important right of all. I've noticed numerous pro-choice individuals try to muddy the water on this issue by claiming pro-choice is pro-life. Quite astounding to be honest and probably one of the most blatant oxymorons i've heard, when did supporting a 'choice' of terminating a separate life, with it's own unique DNA, limbs and a heartbeat which begins after three weeks, by destroying that life become 'pro-life' ? Some pro-choicer's also seem to have a habit of labeling pro-lifers as 'anti women'. Laughable, what about the high proportion of pro-life women, i suppose their anti-women, by being women? And try telling that to my mother or sister for that matter, i hate women? No i love women, i stand up and defend females in the womb before they become women in the first place, i'm defending their lives along with the lives of males before they are born. I'm glad my mother made the decision to keep me. She didn't regard my life in the womb as her's to take, she respected my right to life and brought me into this world, lavishing me with love and affection ever since. I was a gift. I was a child, and not a choice. 

Yes you'll get pro-life nuts, but you get nuts everywhere. You'll have pro-life people who are split over the contraception issue between those of us who have no problem with contraception (myself, i don't oppose preventing a pregnancy by any means, i just oppose ending one through abortion)  for example and those who aren't, but we're all united in something more important, defending life. And being pro-life isn't all about affording protection for our next generation in the womb. It should also be about opposing the death penalty, helping the poor and disabled within our society, opposing wars, genocide, crimes against children, against humanity. Being pro-life is or should be about defending ALL life, from it's earliest stages (conception) all the way through to when we are reliant on others, due to our old age, and expect compassion an care to be given to us. Abortion is not compassionate, far from it. It is wrong, it often effects women in a negative way, many having to undergo counseling to overcome it, some women even ending their own lives because of it. The abortion industry is not interested in caring for women, it's interested in making money. Organizations like Mary Stopes and Planned Parenthood would come to an end if there were no abortion, they need women to continue to come into their 'clinics', period. I cannot think of a more harrowing way for a so-called doctor to make money by ending the life of an unborn child. I thought doctors were required to save life not end it, (unless of course the women's life is at risk). It's also interesting that many self described pro-choice people, oppose conscientious objection to preforming abortions, they  don't want choice in that instance they want a doctor to be forced to do something which contradicts his/her moral philosophy. Or indeed forcing taxpayers who are pro-life from funding pro-abortion organizations, or in fact not giving the man any say in the matter even though it obviously takes a male to impregnate a women, and therefore 50% of that life developing in the womb in undeniably his, and 50%  hers. Remember it takes both a man and a women to make a child. Some pro-choice people obviously have a clear double standard. Lastly once a women becomes pregnant, we are no longer dealing with one life, but two lives. Both deserve to be respected, and both the women and her precious unborn child have a right to life. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Will they or won't they?

In less then two weeks we'll know for sure whether Fianna Fail will indeed run a candidate for the upcoming Presidential election in October. Gaybo's withdrawal from the race, while a blow to Michael Martin who had approached him about possibly running, left many Fianna Fail members and indeed many not affiliated with the party, quietly satisfied, that he decided not to contest. One might ponder if indeed the t.v chat show 'legend' was ever seriously contemplating it. Was it all just about seeking attention and more of a personal ego trip for him. Nevertheless his withdrawal likewise with Norris, again throws this race wide open. Feels like Deja vu. The same question about where will Norris's declared supporters go will similarly be asked of those who supported Gaybo, or declared they would in polls we've probably all took a glance at in the papers over recent days.

One thing seems assured, we won't get our celebrity in the Aras (well we conceivably could if Martin Sheen, or Michael O Muircheartaigh jumps in the race but that's a long shot!). Personally i think choosing a celebrity candidate is an insult to the office of President, but that's beside the point but what on earth makes them think they're a more suitable choice.

Michael D Higgins leads the pack in the polls, as a result of Gaybo's exist, leaving Gay Mitchell a distant enough second with plenty of ground to make up. Both Mary Davis and Sean Gallaher although Independents seem to be putting in a relatively strong showing. They'll be there or there abouts in the end, i'm sure both will attract a decent enough vote, but it would be a stretch to say either will win or has a credible chance.  Being an Independent these days alone can attract voters though,  many who've become disenchanted by all the parties in the state. While i do like each of the Fianna Fail candidates who have shown an interest in running, Fianna Fail will have to choose a candidate who has the best chance of winning or at least to ensure that we increase our share of the vote from the general election. Eamonn O'Cuiv has had a poor showing in all the polls i've seen, struggling to get above 11%, while Mary Hanafin likewise with O'Cuiv was a cabinet member while Fianna Fail were in government and it does not need to be explained why choosing either of those wouldn't be a good idea. The only plausible choice were left with is Brian Crowley, if Fianna Fail are to salvage any respectability from the public he has to be our choice. I'm assured too, that he'd be more then a challenge to both Higgins and Mitchell. Maybe even an upset is on the cards. We dare to hope. Unlike Gaybo who admitted he didn't have the stomach for it, we should not feel the same for Crowley. To answer the title question, i think they will. I don't believe we can afford to remain on the sidelines in the election, especially seeing as both Labour and Fine Gael have their own nominees, now is not the time to risk becoming irrelevant.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Where to go from here.

Only a few years ago, i recall sitting in the James Joyce library reading up on the History of emigration in the past. The sorrow i felt for those whom through no fault of their own had to leave, was matched by the scenes of many young students going about their day seemingly happy and believing what their ancestors went through would never be repeated. I read chapters preparing for my exams assuring myself that we would never go through a period of mass emigration again. And yet a few years later it's likely many of those students i saw, had boarded a plane or boat and had left. Much worse many young people obviously didn't see any light at the end of the tunnel, and put an end to their own lives. Many of these young adults had qualifications, were educated and will now provide the nations they now reside in with all sorts of skills. To our detriment. Many of these young people would have had bright ideas, but what good are ideas when you cannot put them into action, when there is no funded available from the government or NGO's, or  more importantly that you simply cannot find work in order to survive. We shouldn't blame those who left these shores in recent years, there simply was no hope, no opportunities nowhere else to look, they exhausted all the avenues. Ireland's hope is that once our economy rebounds (and that will happen, have faith!) we'll appeal to those same individuals to return, we'll provide them with incentives to help build a better Ireland. I had never seriously contemplated whether in future i'd have to make a similar decision. I had assumed like many others that that day would never come, to pack    up those bags, and bid farewell to their nearest and dearest, and yet a question i would have never asked myself is now been considered. Will i remain in this country in ten years time? Now that i think of it, i'm not so sure, while in the past i'd have given a two word answer 'Of course', circumstances have obviously changed. It is quite astonishing how circumstances have altered though, at such a quick pace. At one stage we seemed to be awash with money with substantial government surpluses that we didn't know know what to do with it, and now were at a stage where we've become increasingly frugal, the economy is stagnant, and our mentality seems to be cripplingly negative. It's no wonder so many have left, if they indeed needed more reasons, then not simply not being able to find work, in order to do so. If it's one thing this recession has taught us (or should have) it's that we should never make assumptions about our future, and where we plan to be. Sometimes it's beyond our control. Do i hope to remain in Ireland? Of course, i'm a proud Irishman, if opportunities present themselves where at the end of it all i'll be able to live in relative comfort, i'll remain. I would hope that when i do leave this country, it will be for a simple holiday, and nothing more.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Will the Catholic Church survive in Ireland? (And other points)

I could end this blogpost quickly by giving a quick yes or no answer to the question posed (and in my opinion it would be a yes). And i suppose if your not the greatest fan of reading, thats enough so, so long : )

I'm not going to pretend that i'm an expert on my faith, I suppose i'm not much different to many others who declare on their census forms that they are Roman Catholic, many of whom are 'Catholics' in name only and really know precious little about their faith. Neither would i describe myself as a religious person. I wouldn't find a discussion on religion all that interesting, though maybe with age that might change. However i am a practicing Catholic, and once i enter the Church on a Sunday morning, i show the greatest respect and reverence for the sacred place i've just walked into. The most important aspect of my faith is the Mass, in particular the holy Eucharist. As a Catholic i do in fact believe in transubstanciation, in laymens terms i believe in the actual presence of of Our Lord Jesus Christ, simply that the bread and wine  becomes the body and blood of Christ. Neither would i describe myself as a traditional Catholic. I question and even completely disagree with some Church teachings, one example being contraception. If i'd have voiced my opinions during the period of the Inquisition, i'd be seen as a heretic, and maybe even burnt at the stake!. But the fact remains that after all that has happened to the Catholic Church over it's short History, my home remains with the Church.

What has occurred within the Church in Ireland especially over the course of the twentieth century, in particular in relation to child abuse, has sickened me to the core. No words could best describe my contempt for those disgusting priests who violated the innocence of mere children, nor those who knew what was happening and did nothing at all,  or those who transferred priests who committed these awful crimes to other parishes in which they could then reoffend. It has become abundantly clear to me that first of all the Catholic Church in Ireland especially after we gained independence, had far too much power. I very much doubt had it not been for such power it would not have led to such widespread abuse of children by many clergymen.  The relationship between the Church and State was also troubling, the links too close, to the detriment in my opinion of both. The majority of priest in this country have been tarnished by a minority who simply abused their authority in the most evil ways imaginable. We must always remember that 97%+ of priests are good decent men, who on a daily basis work to breaking point in the service of their parishioners. (An uncle of mine is a priest, and a mighty good one might i add, who puts in superhuman work)

With the notable exceptions of Diarmaid Martin, and a number of others, most of our bishops should consider their positions. The Cloyne report would seem to make Bishop Magee's position untenable, and in my opinion he should resign. I would tend to agree with Fr Vincent Twomey's opinion that all bishops instated prior to 2003 should be removed. We need bishops who are not tainted in any way by the child sex abuse scandal, and maybe  they should be replaced by spiritual men, possibly even from abroad. Now is the time for bishops who are passionate about their faith and are capable of expressing that with vigor to the flock. For too long Irish bishops have utterly failed to coordinate between themselves, that needs to change in the future. The future outlook of the Catholic Church in Ireland, need not be as bleak as some people believe it will be. Reforms need to be made, the Church needs to learn from it's mistakes so they are never repeated, if it does not, it will never recover. One thing is for certain the Church's  influence is far weaker in society then it used to be, the simple fact is Ireland is at least a quasi-Secular country, and those of us who remain Catholic will need to adapt to that reality. While the Church is aging, there are enough young people engaged with it, that will not die out. The numbers of faithful Catholics might have fallen, but whose to say our Church won't recover albeit with a smaller flock. It's the quality of Catholics that is more important, not the quantity.  A more humble Church is what we need.

Friday, 12 August 2011

I don't want to wake up one morning in October to find out that Gaybo has won the Presidential election.

First of all I want to vote for a Fianna Fail candidate in the upcoming Presidential election. However i will simply not vote for a candidate just because he has the party crest after his/her name. I'm no party troll, the candidate and how closely aligned a person is to my political philosophy determines whether or not i'll vote for a particular individual. I've been a member of the party since i entered University College Dublin five years ago, joining the youth wing, Ogra Fianna Fail. I attended and participated in numerous meetings, and during the last general election i canvassed on behalf of two decent Fianna Fail politicians, both of whom sadly lost their seats. Now our party finds itself  with a predicament. It's whether to bypass this Presidential election altogether, not run a candidate risk becoming possibly irrelevant, possibly supporting an Independent such as Sean Gallaher, or deciding to choose our own candidate. I've been grappling with the idea of whether we should run a candidate or not, the determinate factor at least for me would be is how we'd be likely to do in the polls. If the next poll our two shows that we'd attract around 16% of the vote, i'd ask myself wouldn't we just be wasting our resources and time. However i'd be much more inclined to support a Fianna Fail candidate if were likely to attract around 19%, i think we'd be in with a shout of doing quite well.  However  what i will not do is vote for a celebrity has-been chat show host, with no links to the party at all! I'm sure his recent eurosceptic rant would surely have turned some heads within our party too. The question has to be asked, why should we not grant a hard working actual member of our party the opportunity to run instead? Brian Crowley is a determined, dedicated MEP from Cork, has cross party appeal, and i'm quite certain he'd be much easier to handle then Gay Byrne, who does not seem to like taking advice. I'm certain too in upcoming Presidential debates Crowley would do much better . Sometimes it helps to actually have political skill, and be able to debate, i'm unsure Gaybo has that in his locker. Nevertheless our leader Michael Martin  supposedly believes that in order to win this Presidential election, we might be better off looking for someone  who is not affiliated with our party at all. So he decided seemingly without contacting or seeking advice from other FF TD's and or members to to ring Gay Byrne, and ask him whether he'd be interested to stand on the FF ticket, albeit it running more like an Independent.  Can we possibly stoop any lower, that we are that desperate to win an election that we'd ignore loyal party members like Crowley, who for months has shown his willingness to throw his hat into the ring? If Fianna Fail decide to support Gaybo, it will guarantee one thing, i'll be voting for Gay Mitchell. The party hierarchy can think again if they believe many other Fianna Fail members will simply stand in lockstep, and vote for someone, who to be honest does not deserve to be considered.