Scully's Corner

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.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Could this be the year Dublin finally win Sam? (and Liam :) )

Does anyone remember 1995, the year Dublin last won the All Ireland in football? Yeah i didn't think so. It  has become a distant memory for most of us, a noose around the necks of the people from the Capital. Is this the year that we need not have to look back sixteen years to our last success and finally put pride back into the Dublin jersey? Can we dare dream that this will be our year!? It has simply amazed me that we haven't managed to win more All Ireland's, we've certainly punched well below our weight. The reason for our lack of success, is partially due to the quality of our opposition, but also that Dublin have had this annoying habit of capitulating, caught like a rabbit in the headlights, basically failing to preform, or throwing away what one would have thought were insurmountable leads! (Remember Kerry in 2009 and Mayo in 2005?) It's an interesting point that many teams which have faced and beaten Dublin, especially during the last decade has so often gone on to on to win Sam. Maybe this time a role reversal is in order, that we'll beat teams like Tyrone and go on to win that much sought after trophy many times this decade, beginning this year!. Whatever it is, possibly physiological issues which has prevented Dublin from even reaching a final since 1995, i think those issues have probably been sorted out  now.(that's if Donegal don't spring a surprise). But something positive has happened to Dublin this year and the way we are playing. I've never seen such hunger to win a ball in a long time, they run for it as if their lives depend on it, and clearly teams like Tyrone could not deal with our physical power and speed last weekend. Bernard Brogan is an incredible talent, and unplayable when at his best. Stephen Cluxton is simply the best goalkeeper in the country, scoring a few points for us in the process. Diarmaid Connelly seems to have found his form, lets hope he plays like he did against Tyrone again. Fitness certainly won't be an issue with Dublin, and neither will skill, all we need is calm heads.

 In the past we would not have been able to cope with the pressure and have blown games against both Kildare and Wexford this year. But the fact we held our nerve, kept our cool and won those games (albeit with a bit of luck and controversy!) should warn Donegal and hopefully either Kerry or Mayo next, that Dublin mean business, that this time we will pull through and win those must win matches. I was seven years of age in 95', on Hill 16, i don't recollect a thing. If we win Sam this September i'll never forget it, and if we somehow manage to beat both Tipperary and Kilkenny, in the hurling, i'll be laughing all the way back home, possible shouting like a madman outside my car window as i shout Dublin Dublin until i lose my voice. But it'll be worth it!

After the Storm - Norris

It gave me no pleasure to see David Norris depart from the Presidential race. His upbeat personality might have been just the medicine the Irish people needed to put a smile on our faces, and to believe things weren't quite so bad as we thought, or at least would not be in the future. (Even though I personally would not have contemplated voting for him). Nevertheless i'm sure those inclined to be firm supporters of Israel and homophobes were left rubbing their hands together in glee as they saw him bow out of the race, in such a way that anyone with any sense of dignity might have felt a little bit sorry for the man. Norris was a divisive figure, he seems to scare the right much like Dana frightens the left. Norris of course is an individual who has in the past done good work for various human rights initiatives, especially on behalf of minority communities, not only in Ireland but abroad  (Speaking up for the plight of Palestinians and his successful effort of decriminalizing homosexuality here in 1993) But few could argue his decision to  withdraw was not the right thing for him to do, and that his judgement to do so in that case was certainly the correct one (all the while rightfully questioning his judgement which had lead up to the probable inevitability). The Irish public should be grateful that the controversies surrounding Norris's former partner came out at the time they did, rather then during his term as President, that would have been utterly embarrassing, not only for Norris but for the Irish public. Had it not been for the controversy surrounding his former party engaging in an illegal activity with a minor, to my mind it would have been close to a guarantee that he would have strolled into the Phoenix Park and the Aras. The polls as we recall had shown he had a commanding lead.

 But if we are to be consistent in our outrage when children are abused by priests, or when bishops willingly transfer priests who have abused children to a different parish, we must also demand firm detailed answers from Senator David Norris, which at least to my mind he has yet to do, conclusively. We would rightfully demand a priest be removed from his position if he were to have written a letter in defense of someone who to put in bluntly,raped a child, regardless of whether it was consensual or not, it is illegal. (Well at least i would). Try to keep your political ideology aside, presumably some self described liberals who might still be inclined to find some way to defend the man and his actions, might be apprehensive to do so since he is regarded as not only a Gay icon but a liberal one. Plain and simple what Nawi did was wrong and Norris's actions, no matter how well intentioned he was, were also wrong. I believe it is time that Norris, once he returns from his vacation, seriously considers his position as a sitting Senator. He also needs questions put him over his support for doing away with the age of consent, and to put it mildly, his questionable opinions as regards peadophilla. If Norris asks for forgiveness and reiterates what he did was wrong, I believe any honorable person will forgive him. I honestly believe on the whole David Norris is a good man, even though certainly his judgement and possibly a semblance of his character is in question.