Journalists

Sunday 24 March 2019

Lorraine Courtney

Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the Arbour Hill 1916 commemoration ceremony at Arbour Hill Church in Dublin. Photo: PA

I'm an atheist - but I believe the Dáil prayer is an acceptable fact of our nation's Catholic culture 

The Dáil prayer is safe, for now. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have voted to keep the prayer as well as a new 30-second period for silent reflection. The "liberals" aren't happy. The prayer, just like the sounding of the Angelus bell, so the argument goes, is slap in the face to the new multicultural, multi-faith Ireland, causing those of other faiths and none to feel marginalised and shut out.

'With public opinion surveys showing more than a quarter of us think a woman is in some way to blame for being attacked if she was drunk, flirty or wearing revealing clothes, there’s always the very real possibility that jurors in rape cases are making judgments based on discriminatory attitudes.' (stock photo)

Mini-skirts and drink are no excuse for rape 

We've come a long way since the days when a rape victim might be called a liar until she backed down. But it all may still mean precious little to many if some victims still prefer to drop the charges, fearing they only have the flimsiest chance of being believed in court. Now the Director of Public Prosecutions wants the Supreme Court to clarify the law when men accused of rape claim the woman consented to sex. Until now, rape has meant having sexual intercourse without consent, regardless of whether or not force was used. Because there is no explanation of consent in law...

Capt Peter Kelleher reads the Proclamation on Sunday Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

A century on, young people are asking - was it for this? 

Things were clearly different back in 1916. We weren't free but we had leaders with big ideas. Listening to the Proclamation being read aloud on Sunday, I came out in goosebumps: "The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally."

17/12/2015 Minister for Health, Mr Leo Varadkar TD during an announcement at Government Buildings, Dublin of a start date for a ban on smoking in cars where children are present. The announcement follows the signing of regulations by the Health Minister under the Protection of ChildrenÄôs Health (Tobacco Smoke in Mechanically Propelled Vehicles) Act 2014 to bring the law into full effect. Photo: gareth chaney Collins

Taxing fizzy drinks is not the way to burst our obesity bubble 

One in four children is overweight or obese. More startlingly, we will be the fattest country in Europe by 2030. Responses to these statistics have included a letter sent by Health Minister Leo Varadkar to Finance Minister Michael Noonan, asking him to impose a 20pc "sugar tax" on fizzy drinks. In the letter Varadkar outlined the consequences of Ireland's sugar rush, saying: "Obesity presents a major public health problem for Ireland with one in four children now overweight or obese at age three."

Surely there are other, equally effective, ways to fundraise for
charities apart from naked calendars?

By all means, raise money for charity - just keep your clothes on 

Yes, 'tis the season for naked calendars and, more specifically, for naked charity calendars. When the members of Rylstone and District Women's Institute first stripped off for their nude calendar back in 1999, they unknowingly spawned a brand new fundraising genre and collected £2m for cancer research. Sixteen years later, we have abandoned the things that made the original so great and opted for a million pale imitations. The Women's Institute has spawned a very ugly monster.