News Letters

Friday 21 October 2016

Letters: Folly of making church whipping post of our times

Published 17/06/2014 | 02:30

Pope Francis. Photo: Reuters
Pope Francis. Photo: Reuters

Once again, Catholic Church bashing has become a national pastime. The appalling news from Tuam has released a plague of self-righteousness, but little by way of illumination. The Church is a very soft target and provides many with a welcome scapegoat for all our troubles.

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We all have a lot to answer for but tend to see the world's ills as the fault of others. Hypocrisy has become an art form honed to perfection, wheeled out when the opportunity arises, and conveniently amplified by the tabloid press.

The fact that what is gratuitously asserted can be gratuitously denied does not get in the way of convenient caricatures of the Catholic Church. Intellectual dishonesty has become the hallmark of some so-called liberal minds.

The notion that we are all basking in the enlightenment set against the dark ages suffered by previous times shows a remarkable ignorance of the past and of the present in which the current living conditions which many endure is an affront to human dignity.

Outrage about the present seems to be in short supply.

Of course, the leadership and management of the Church fell well below the standard required. The bishops were grossly incompetent, misguided and ill-advised but not evil.

There are two kinds of leader, the life giving and the life threatening; the Church was landed with more than its fair share of the latter. The function of leadership is to breathe life into those it serves not to demand obedient subservience.

Hierarchical structures tend to dilute accountability with the result that the leaders only hear what sustains them in their role.

The priests and religious whom I have encountered are as outraged as the rest of us about what was done in their name.

Many of our letter writers, would not have the level of literacy needed to write a letter were it not for the contribution the religious orders have made to the education of our people at the time when the State was unwilling to make that commitment.





The government's decision to effectively take control of what was to be an all-party non governmental panel to set the terms of reference for the banking inquiry is utterly indefensible. It further undermines Fine Gael's pre-election pledge to reform antiquated Oireachtas procedures to usher in a new era of transparency and above board politics.

The inquiry was supposed to transcend party politics, its sole remit being to get at the truth, however painful or embarrassing, of what caused that catastrophic event back in 2008 that almost destroyed our country and wrecked so many lives.

Instead we find that politicians are yet again grasping at the levers of power, seeking advantage and carrying on with the same old cute hoor ways that Fine Gael for years accused Fianna Fail of pursuing.

The inquiry is an extremely important one, given the implications for all of us, and for Ireland's future, of the banking collapse. To command public confidence and the credibility that is so essential to its ultimate findings the inquiry cannot afford to be mired in political controversy or perceived to be directly or indirectly influenced by the interests or biases of any one political party.

I'm disappointed in the Taoiseach for standing over the government's shambolic handling of such an incredibly sensitive issue. He should have the courage and honestly to put party politics aside on this occasion, reverse the government majority on the Inquiry Terms of Reference Panel, and allow the inquiry to then proceed in a non partisan way to do its exceptionally challenging job because, let's face it, truth and party politics don't mix!





When the decision to establish an Oireachtas Joint Committee to conduct a banking inquiry was announced in April, over 12 months after the expiry of the blanket bank guarantee, we were advised that public confidence would be inspired because the banking inquiry would demonstrate "an example of parliament at its best", as it would be the first inquiry conducted under new enabling legislation.

The scope of the banking inquiry is so complex that the actual cost of the 2008 blanket bank guarantee was €64.1bn, substantially more than the €16.4bn figure advised by the international experts, for whose advice the last Government paid over €7m in 2008.

Seven weeks have elapsed following the announcement of this inquiry and the initiative is submerged in a quagmire entirely of the Government's own making that aggravates public confidence and threatens the inquiry's credibility, perspicacity and public value.

The purpose of this inquiry is to ensure that lightning doesn't strike twice in the banking sector. Why does the Government not explain why a coalition majority on this inquiry, with or without a political whip, is in the public interest and does not create a widespread perception of bias and hidden agenda?

Given the devastating impact of the banking crisis on everybody, why does the Oireachtas not set out the detailed biographies, educational and specialised professional credentials and competencies of the committee members that defines their expertise to establish the facts behind the policy and administrative failures that caused our banking system and our citizens such appalling distress?






Prepare yourself for the biggest miracle in 2000 years. Thousands of children will be cured of lifelong conditions at the stroke of a Department of Education pen over the summer holidays. Special Needs Assistants were needed to give these children a chance of being educated with their friends in mainstream schools, but now the Government has figured that many thousands are fine, who weren't fine last year, thus removing the need for a Special Needs Assistant. A miracle of accountancy over compassion, but then again, that seems to be the current Government's motto.





The gruesome beheading of Iraqi soldiers confirms beyond doubt the viciousness of extremists. However, is it enough to sit in the West, and ponder how misbegotten the whole Iraqi folly has become and condemn the terrorists who are defaming the image of Islam?

King Abdallah of Jordan was among the first to warn that if Iraq did not settle quickly the Israeli-Palestinian issue will no longer retain its status as the recruiting sergeant for Jihadism.

Iran's clout over the Shia-led government in Iraq, its historic patronage over Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Assad's Baathist regime in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Syria, were bound to create a Shiite crescent in the Sunni heartland, and ignite the embers of religious rivalries. But most importantly, socio-economic issues remain the pressing issues for the youth who remain victims of poverty and high unemployment.

The region is plunging into the abyss. We have a moral obligation to stand up and end the enduring immoral and political turmoil Messrs Bush and Blair created in the first place.



Irish Independent

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