Is the Catholic Church’s hard line on abortion legislation an acceptance that its influence over the Irish state is over? « The Secular Society
Here are some interesting twists in the abortion debate in the Republic. As Michael Kelly of the Irish Catholic newspaper noted yesterday Armagh’s new-boy-to-be Eamonn Martin has been clear in ways his soon-to-be predecessor Sean Brady never was. As he also added, Rome will be pleased.And as Kelly rightly observes, polls can be wrong, especially if there is a referendum coming up: Nevertheless, the latest MRBI/IPOSOS poll on whether there should be legislation as opposed to guidelines is still pretty overwhelmingly in favour…Asked if they were for or against the heads of the Bill to legislate for the Supreme Court X judgment of 1992 permitting abortion where a mother’s life is in danger, 75 per cent said Yes, 14 per cent said No and 11 per cent had no opinion.Supporters of both Coalition parties were the strongest backers of the legislation with 79 per cent of Fine Gael voters favour; 78 per cent of Labour; 77 per cent of Sinn Féin and 74 per cent of Fianna Fáil supporters.People over 65 were the least enthusiastic about the legislation with 60 per cent in favour and 26 per cent against. The 25 to 34 age group was the most strongly in favour but there were large majorities across all age cohorts.The best-off social categories were strongest in support of legislation while farmers and the poorest DE social group were the least enthusiastic. The thing is that there won’t be a referendum on this issue. The referendum will be in the chamber, and this is where the church’s rather intemperate (not to mention very general) threat of ex communication was aimed. And it has caused a lot of difficulty. Micheal Martin had intended to march his party through on a whip, but was the first to relax and for the first time in his party’s history allowed his TDs have a free vote. We’ll see later on whether there are consequences to letting ‘soldiers of destiny’ have such a free hand. Meanwhile Enda Kenny, posing as the most unlikely secular hero in the history of the state is choosing the book of statute over the book of church law and in the process denying a party a free vote that’s been accustomed to having one in times past. The world turned upside down? Political insiders argue that the church could have chosen a more conciliatory line on the X case legislation. And that in alienating the political classes they may stand in future to have fewer allies when it comes to defending the real bulwark against abortion in the constitution if the current drift towards secularism continues: Article 40. 3. 3° The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right. That, the Church may calculate, may a price worth paying in order to save its own spiritual soul. There appears to be two way commerce going on here. In taking a much harder, fundamentalist line the Church is finding more coherence in its own moral arguments, whilst accepting, perhaps that its influence on matters of state in Ireland are long since over. With Thanks to Mick Fealty, via Is the Catholic Church’s hard line on abortion legislation an acceptance that its influence over the Irish state is over? « The Secular Society.
The tactical astuteness of Fine Gael TDs opposed to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is impressive. Rather than confront Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a single, explosive challenge to his leadership, they have eked out their resistance in the hope of securing legislative amendments or, at least, the prospect of early party forgiveness. By staggering their challenge, they have sought to minimise the offence created. Any doubt has been removed by already expelled individuals who insist they are not members of a cabal and who aspire to represent Fine Gael in the future. While the Bill is being debated, the scale of eventual opposition remains uncertain. On the basis of a recent Irish Times opinion poll, which showed general Fine Gael support for legislation at 79 per cent and opposition at 16 per cent, the defecting deputies could number between six and nine. Public opinion, however, is not always reflected in the pattern of Dáil voting. The tyranny of the party whip and the prospect of expulsion and career damage are powerful conditioning factors while, on the other hand, a free vote encourages outside interests to apply pressure and for TDs to engage in vote-poaching at constituency level. How else to explain the Fianna Fáil vote? Party leader Micheál Martin showed a deal of courage when he spoke in favour of the Government Bill and said it would provide necessary protection for the lives of women and fulfil Constitutional and international requirements. Having secured a free vote, however, his colleagues opted for traditional opposition tactics and 13 out of 19 voted against the measure. If opinion within Fianna Fáil is taken as a template, no more than four TDs should have rejected the Bill on the grounds of conscience. Their actions appear to have been an attempt to target unhappy Fine Gael, Labour Party and Sinn Féin voters while, at the same time, signalling concern with Mr Martin’s style of leadership. Willie O’Dea was quick to declare his support for Mr Martin, even as he struggled to explain his position on the legislation. A Second Stage vote is normally regarded as being on the principles of a Bill. Mr O’Dea supported the principles of the Bill but voted against it, explaining that if a review clause was introduced at a later stage he might change his mind. An equally unconvincing approach was adopted by European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton and by a number of her Fine Gael colleagues. They rejected the principles underlying the Bill but voted for it on the grounds that it might be amended. Support for this legislation is remarkably uniform across all political parties. When Catholic Church pressure failed to ramp up Fine Gael defections, a majority of Fianna Fáil TDs went in search of disaffected voters. It’s what drives politics.
FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin plans to call on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reopen a module of Moriarty Tribunal for a three month period to allow it to examine new allegations concerning the Tipperary TD Michael Lowry.
Martin has said that information contained in a recording of a conversation between the former Fine Gael minister and property agent Kevin Phelan over details of a €250,000 payment “raises some very serious questions”.
“Primary among them is whether a central module of the Moriarty Tribunal was compromised by an effort to co-ordinate the evidence of key witnesses,” Martin said in a statement first printed in the Sunday Independent and provided to TheJournal.ie today.
The Taoiseach has already ruled out reopening the Tribunal and speaking in New York today he said that Justice Moriarty had reported “fully and finally” according to Newstalk.
The conversation between Lowry and Phelan is said to have taken place on 20 September 2004 and concerns a €250,000 payment to Phelan which Lowry pleaded with Phelan not to reveal as the independent TD had “never declared it”.
In a statement released following first publication of a transcript of the conversation in the Sunday Independent three weeks ago, Lowry insisted that the payment was “properly recorded and accounted for” through one of his companies.
He has since refused to confirm the authenticity of the tape recording and claimed he has been unable to obtain a copy of the tape from the Sunday Independent, which broke the story.
This contradicts claims from the paper which details attempts to get a copy of the conversation to Lowry in today’s edition.
Martin said that TV3 had been “inexplicably alone among Irish broadcasters” in broadcasting the audio recording of the conversation last Thursday night and said that the case for re-examining evidence presented to the Moriarty Tribunal had been emboldened.
In 2011, the Tribunal found that Lowry exerted an “insidious and pervasive influence” on the process of awarding a mobile telephone license to the Denis O’Brien’s company Esat Digifone.
However it made limited findings on matters concerning the sale of Doncaster Rovers Football Club, which involved Phelan, due to “suppression” of evidence. Both Lowry and O’Brien have rejected the findings of the Tribunal.
Martin said of the recording played on TV3: “The nuances which emerge, absent from the written transcript, add to the fear that the Tribunal’s work may have been compromised.”
The Fianna Fáil leader said that the reluctance of the Taoiseach to investigate the new allegations surrounding Lowry was “understandable” given “the proximity” he and other ministers have to the events which led to the Tribunal.
But he said that Labour’s silence is a “a stark reminder of that party’s weakness”.
He continued: “No political party in this country can point to an unblemished past, but those of us who want to build a better quality of politics for the future have a duty to speak out on this issue.
“Fine Gael and the Labour Party were elected with a record majority on a long list of promises. At the top of that list was a promise to change the way we practice politics.
“In that spirit, I will next week call on the Taoiseach to agree to have the specific module of the Moriarty Tribunal reopened for a period of three months to allow Judge Moriarty examine the new material that has emerged since he reported two years ago.
“If Fine Gael meant a word of what it said about the need for change, and if the Labour Party has a shred of integrity left, I expect unanimous support for this call.”
17% of people satisfied with Labour leader and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore
Support for the Labour Party has dipped below 10%, according to the latest opinion poll.
Independents and smaller parties have also lost ground, with Fianna Fáil benefitting.
The Millward Brown poll for tomorrow’s Sunday Independent also found that just one voter in five is satisfied with the Government’s performance.
The poll of 985 voters was conducted over ten days finishing last Thursday.
It will be published just two weeks since its last poll for the Sunday Independent.
There is a very high level of ‘undecideds’ – 32% – but when they are excluded, Fine Gael is up one to 25%.
While the slide in Labour support continues – the party is down two to just 9%.
Fianna Fáil is back in the lead, up six points to 29%; while Sinn Féin drops one to 20%; and Independents and others are down four points in two weeks to 17%
Just 20% – one in five – say they are satisfied with the way the Government is running the country; 74% are dissatisfied.
Among the party leaders, 26% are satisfied with the performance of the Fine Gael Taoiseach, 17% with the Labour Tánaiste, 36% with Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin, and 28% with Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin.
Following the demise of Fianna Fail in the last election Micheal Martin announces the Resurrection is at hand. He stated the country would undergo far-reaching changes. Subject to party approval, Fianna Fail would its name to the Irish Frankenstein Party. He declared he would levy special tax on all citizens to complete the transformation of what was the Republic of Ireland into the Republic of Zombie.
In his speech, Mr. Martin declared Zombies rarely suffered from ill health and that future governments would therefore be able to do away with the department of health and social security. Zombie needs were minimal and would greatly benefit the tourist trade
His new election slogan is you can’t beat the Zombies all hail Michael Frankenstein
He asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny if he was availing of it. “Who among his ministerial colleagues is availing of it?” he added. “How can he justify it to people at home who fear the introduction of the Government’s property tax on their family home when 13 of his Cabinet colleagues are writing off against their income tax bill the cost of a second home in Dublin?”
Mr Doherty said the tax break or “the dual abode allowance” was exclusively for Ministers and officeholders.
Those from outside Dublin, he added, were allowed to write off €6,500 against their income tax bill if they had a second home in the capital without having to provide a single receipt. If they did not have a second home in Dublin and stayed in a hotel, they could write off against their income tax bill €3,500 for having their laundry done and without having to give a receipt.
“When the Taoiseach was in opposition and Deputy Micheál Martin and his gang were availing of this lavish tax break, he promised to abolish it,” Mr Doherty added. “Since he has taken office, far from abolishing it, we have seen the cost increase by 30 per cent to €112,000.”
Mr Kenny said Mr Doherty claimed overnight allowances to which he was entitled. “They are a multiple of what any Minister, who does not receive overnight allowances, would claim,” he added.
He said most Ministers were in Dublin four or five nights a week, depending on their schedule or duties. “The matters mentioned by the deputy are part of what the Government is considering in respect of the budget which, as he is aware, will be presented by the Minister for Finance next week,” he added.
Mr Doherty said Ministers must write to the Revenue Commissioners to ask that their income tax bill would be written down up to €6,500 in unvouched expenses. The Minister’s solicitor’s and auctioneer’s fees would be written off against tax.
“How many Ministers have availed of the €3,500 deduction for the purposes of having their laundry done because they stay in a hotel or a guesthouse?” he added.
Mr Kenny replied: “Ministers are entitled to an allowance of €6,000 which they can claim at the 41 per cent tax rate, which works out at approximately €3,500.
As a rural member, the deputy is in a position to claim approximately €30,000 or more.”
NEUTERING DOESN’T work on every dog. Even though the undercarriage is gone, some continue to swagger around with that cock-of-the walk attitude, confident as ever.
Just like the bankers. They may have lost their “fundamentals” but that doesn’t stop them behaving like they still have them.
Right up to the bank guarantee, these blokes were strutting up before Oireachtas committees to insist: “Our fundamentals are sound.”
And we remember how people who are now in Government, but were in opposition back then, stormed away from those meetings, fuming.
They knew things were bad. They knew from their constituents that lending had dried up. They knew they were being spun a yarn.
But the bankers, oozing arrogance and condescension, insisted otherwise. We own them now, unfortunately. Right down to their shrivelled fundamentals.
Not that they seem to know it.
Yesterday, the bankers were under scrutiny again in the Dáil after senior public servants decided to tell them some home truths about their handling of the mortgage debt crisis. (Self-serving and delusional.) The Central Bank’s Fiona Muldoon was among them. Speaking at a Banking Federation conference on Tuesday, she told the pinstriped ones to stop acting like petulant teenagers and confront the issue.
Not surprisingly, the Opposition piled in behind her. If the bankers won’t face up to the consequences of their irresponsible lending, then the Government should force them to deal with people now unable to repay the loans.
He told the Dáil that, only the other week, he informed the Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner that the banks weren’t doing enough. Oh yes.
Furthermore, the Government has regular meetings with the bankers through the Economic Management Council. And they’d be “well advised to sit down on a bilateral basis” and negotiate.
But they haven’t done it, chorused the Opposition leaders. Can the Taoiseach not see that? Did he not hear what Fiona said? She wasn’t the only one. John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, also gave the bankers an earful.
But any day now, it seems, the fat cats will heed their Government masters and engage with the mortgage debt crisis.
That’s what the Taoiseach thinks. After all, he’s had harsh words with them, more than once.
One can only imagine the state of those poor bankers as they stumble across the road from Government Buildings for a hairshirt lunch in Patrick Guilbaud’s followed by an Armagnac or three for the nerves. “The regulator is barking very loudly, Taoiseach, and you are not listening to what is being said,” said the Fianna Fáil leader, a fluent canine speaker.
Shane Ross despairs for our trusting Taoiseach. Bankers can’t even lie straight in the bed. “They are involved in a policy to extend and pretend . . . denial, delay and deceit.” “Believe you me, Deputy Ross, they have been told in plain English what the requirement is,” insisted Enda.
But they don’t take advice, sighed an exasperated Ross. “You can’t treat these bankers as normal human beings.” Ate you alive, they will. Them and their phantom fundamentals.
Ms McDonald claimed that Mr Reilly clearly had a direct conflict of interest, because he has investments in private medicine and nursing homes at a time when public beds were being closed.
She described as a farce the addition by Mr Reilly of extra proposed sites for primary care centres.
Ms McDonald asked whether or not junior health minister Roisin Shortall was aware of the additional criteria, including competition, cited by the Taoiseach.
Mr Kenny insisted that extra proposed sites were added to put pressure on the medical profession to co-operate.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin criticised the addition of extra primary care sites, including two in the minister’s own constituency, saying that Ms Shortall “plays by the rules, but Minister Reilly doesn’t”.
Special Needs Assistant
Every time the government says ‘we need to pay the unsecured bondholders; A’ Special Needs Assistant dies inside.
New Movie channel
Three hundred thousand homes to face blank TVs as switchover to the digital system looms.
Solution- bring back Terry Wogans blankety blank.
Leo Varadkar estimates this will bring in €15m per annum to local business.
Funding not yet allocated, no route yet decided. How can, Mr. Varadkar, know how much money will be generated from a project that is still in its infancy and may well not even happen?
Mr. Varadkar is currently considering grants for kite flying.
The Fianna Fail Think In
Top of the agenda was the search for brains – this proved to be a fruitless exercise.
The Leader Mr. Martin said his party would oppose the proposed Government property tax. Now Micheál rattle the old brain cells if you can find them and youwill recall your lot proposed this very same tax two years ago.
Perhaps just maybe we are seeing the death throes of this shambolic lot.
Fiach Kelly: Fianna Fail won’t become Sinn Fein, but it may start to apologise less – and attack more
Mr Martin had just said his party will oppose the property tax – never mind that they first proposed one two years ago while lurching through their final months in power – and stood firmly by pensioners, now in the Coalition’s crosshairs.
This Dail term could see that change.
You could call it shameless opportunism, but certain Fianna Failers believe they would have political cover for a swift change.