Wednesday 28 September 2016

Government on a limb over Accord funding cut

Published 14/05/2015 | 02:30

Children’s Minister James Reilly has also found himself under fire over the decision
Children’s Minister James Reilly has also found himself under fire over the decision

Outcomes are determined by choices and even the most innocent action can have unintended consequences - that is why timing is critical, especially in dealing with delicate issues in public life. For such reasons, the revelation about cuts to the funding of Accord could not have come at a more unfortunate time.

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The Marriage Referendum looks like being a close-run thing.

Thus any action with the potential to influence the outcome must be weighed with care and sensitivity.

Tusla has strenuously denied claims that the cut in funding to Accord was part of a wider Government policy to withdraw financial support to Catholic Church agencies.

There is no reason to doubt the agency, nonetheless perception is very important. And, however unpremeditated, the result is that the State-funded body looks like it is punishing the Catholic Church for failing to toe the State line.

The organisation is adamant that the decision to reduce the funding was never intended as a slap on the wrist for the church, but it will be seen as such by some.

It therefore has the potential to be exploited for political ends and influence the debate. It has already been pointed out that Tusla's funding was increased by €26m in the last Budget.

And any cut to an agency promoting marriage during a contentious national referendum on relationships should have been approached with extreme caution.

Children's Minister James Reilly has also found himself under fire over the decision.

However one wishes to view it, the move was ill-advised at this time, and has left the Government out on a limb.

In the run-up to the referendum, Church leaders had expressed fears on how a State push to redefine marriage might impact faith-based organisations.

This decision will do nothing to allay such concerns.

Especially given that no cuts were made during the crash and now, when the economy is on an upturn, the funding is reduced.

Women lay down a marker for World Cup

They said it couldn't be done, and by and large - barring Munster's famous victory over the All Blacks - they were right.

Irish rugby teams simply came off second best whenever they were pitted against the formidable New Zealanders.

So much for the history books - a team of Irish women turned all those decades of defeat and despair on their head by sending the All Blacks home and topping their pool in last year's World Cup in Paris.

Ireland finished a credible fourth after seeing off the Kiwis, as they bowed out in the semi-finals with defeat at the hands of England.

Therefore, having succeeded where successive valiant male teams have failed, there could be no more fitting tribute than yesterday's news that the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup will be hosted in Dublin and in Belfast.

The event will give a welcome boost to tourism, as well as being a showcase for sporting excellence.

The heroic feats of captain Niamh Briggs and her teammates have already laid down a marker for the men in this World Cup year.

Irish Independent

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