Monday 18 December 2017

Mary Kenny: Deference not reverence let McQuaid rule country

Archbishop John Charles McQuaid
Archbishop John Charles McQuaid

IN the Ireland in which I grew up, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid was an all-powerful figure. But he didn't take this power: he was given it.

Politicians across the spectrum prostrated themselves before this Prince of the Church: Sean MacBride, who thought any association with the British monarchy was a despicable form of 'fawning', nevertheless fell to his knees to kiss John Charles's Episcopal ring at every available opportunity.

Pressure from John Charles caused then health minister Noel Browne to recant on his proposal for a Mother and Child scheme (which might have opened the door to fertility control). But no-one forced Mr Browne to recant. He chose to do so, because John Charles represented power, and politicians will defer to power.

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