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Children minister a lonely ray of light

WHAT sort of country are we when it appears that only the threat to jail a couple of bishops, and hopefully a cardinal, will secure full co-operation from 'mother' church over the serial rape of children by their priests?

It is a measure of the failed nature of the Irish State that our moral pastors have enjoyed the same impunity from justice as those 'reformed' terrorists who buried the disappeared. Still, at last those Catholic cardinals in their palaces who imposed oaths of secrecy on violated boys and girls in an amoral attempt to turn them into the ecclesiastical equivalent of the disappeared, are being confronted by the ghosts of their ghastly acts.

When it came to his first Cabinet, the Taoiseach came in for some criticism when he appointed a Minister for Children. Given how we have treated our children it was in fact the least he could do. And Frances Fitzgerald to her credit looks like a minister who, unlike the forelock tugging Mr Cowen, is more than willing to see a couple of bishops jailed if Mr Papal Nuncio does not learn that Irish Home Rule is not -- as Mr Carson claimed in 1912 -- Rome Rule.

The morally derelict state of our ecclesiastic equivocators is yet another example of how we as a country are set up to fail. Michael Noonan was half right last week when he compared us to a cork bobbing on a vast ocean. Ireland is certainly in stormy waters but a cork at least has buoyancy. We in contrast are clad in the cement boots bequeathed to us by FF and the ECB/EU mafia of bankers.

When it comes to our status as a state that is set up to fail, our problems are not just external. We have, for example, yet to deal with extraordinary structural difficulties such as how a workforce of 1.9 million can sustain a scenario where 2.2 million of the population receive one form or another of welfare entitlements. Only a fool secures their happiness via the misery of others but the absence of welfare reform is one more example of our failure since 2006 to adequately tackle the existential crisis that has turned a previously prosperous State into a satrap of the ECB.

Our problems are compounded by the fact that Europe too is set up to fail. A continent is indeed in trouble when the IMF and the ECB publicly squabble at the press conference dealing with our little bailout. It is easy for an Ireland, surrounded by the malodorous taint of the debt our 'elites' thoughtlessly built up, to agree with the IMF diagnosis that when it comes to this crisis "what is needed and what is lacking so far is an EU solution''. The thrifty Germans, who will be doing the giving rather than taking, are understandably rather more cautious. But the nub of the situation was captured by the Italian finance minister who, as 'contagion' gathered at the historic gates of Rome and Madrid, warned that "just like the Titanic not even the first-class passengers will be spared'' if Europe implodes.

The portrait our failed State presented to the world last week was bleak. Gone indeed were the sunshine days of the Queen's visit as mendacious priests disgusted us and disingenuous political fibbers threw paper planes of faux moral outrage at each other. Spectacles like this mean it is almost with relief that we turn to the Mary Mitchell O'Connor 'Miss Piggy' scandal. Whatever about Ms Mitchell O'Connor, no amount of apologies by the oafish Mr Wallace can disguise his evolution, in common with our apologising primates, into the perfect case-study of the truth of Obama's famous observation that "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig".

Sunday Independent