The Irish Labour Party is certainly holding the line for secularism. Whether it is Eamonn Gilmore telling the Vatican to get lost or Pat Rabbitte blowing off Cardinal Sean Brady’s proposal that the Church would lobby the government on the abortion issue, the lines have certainly been drawn. Priestcraft has little purchase with the Labour Party and society is all the better for that, even if there are grounds to suspect that because it has failed miserably to hold the line for socialism its push against Church encroachment is solely down to the secular providing the one space where the party can wax radical.
Yet Rabbitte would appear to have got it wrong on the issue of how the Church should be treated in respect of the abortion issue.
I don’t have any objection to any of the churches stating its position and making it clear, but I think it would be a retrogressive step if we were to go back to the days of the Catholic Church dictating to elected public representatives how they should address an issue.There is little chance of that happening. With knowledge widespread of how it covered up its child rape activities, few take seriously anything the Catholic Church says these days. The Irish at best have become what Denis Faul once said of the French: hatch, match and despatch Catholics. Outside of birth marriage and death, the Church can keep its distance.
Fianna Fail is somewhat wide off the mark in its charge that Rabbitte is ‘poisoning the atmosphere over the abortion issue, showing disrespect for the Catholic Church and trying to muzzle debate’. There is no reason whatsoever for anybody to show respect to the Catholic Church. Treating it with contempt is a healthy stance for people to take. But there is a danger that debate will be muzzled. Ireland claims, like most other European states, to be a pluralist democracy. In that type of system interest groups have a right to lobby and make their voices heard. To deny the Church, one of many interest groups in Irish society, the right to lobby would be fundamentally undemocratic.
The Catholic Church or Shamrock Rovers, if the club so chooses, should have every right to express their views to government on the abortion matter or anything else that takes their fancy. It does not follow that government has to take anything either might say on board. Rabbitte could take a lead from his party chair Colm Keaveney TD who said the Catholic Church was certainly entitled to be listened to, but what it might have to say would be “in excess" to its current standing in Irish society.
When the the Macpherson Report in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder deemed the Metropolitan Police to have a culture of institutional racism it shook British policing to the core. Well, that’s what the police would like people to believe. But the recent case of a black teenage Londoner gives the lie to this.
The youth claims to have been stopped 50 times by the Met. He has been both searched and stripped searched as well as having endured detention in police cells on a number of occasions but has always been released without any charges being pressed. Recently a case against him was thrown out of court after CCTV showed that the cops were lying. In court a cop alleged that the teenager, handcuffed and face down on the ground, assaulted him and grazed his knuckles. Now what would a cop be doing with knuckles that would cause them to be grazed? It all sounds a bit like the guff erstwhile RUC chief constable Kenneth Newman would come out with, alleging that people in custody sustained injuries by beating themselves up just to get his men a bad name.
Lee Jasper, chair of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium said:
It is particularly shocking that this has been going on for such a long time and started when the boy was so young. This case exemplifies the harsh realities of being a black kid in London.That "harsh reality" has been given a quantitative dimension by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission who point out that the Metropolitan Police is 11 times more likely to stop and search black people than white people.
Currently a college student, the teenager has, since he was 14, faced a number of charges, not one of which has stood up. He is to sue the force for racism. ‘I can't think of any other reason why the police keep doing this to me apart from racism.’ Seems nobody else can either.
FULL OF IT
Not so long ago the airline refused permission to a 69 year old woman from County Louth to board her flight with a colostomy bag. How she was supposed to manage her business was not considered the business of Michael O’Leary.
After a doctor’s letter was ignored and something that sounds like a strip search took place Frances Duff was eventually allowed on to the plane although her colostomy bag and a spare were kept separate from her. Describing her ordeal the woman said of the Ryanair flight attendant:
She just pushed it out of my daughter’s hand. She didn’t want to speak to me or know me. She humiliated me so much that I started crying in front of people. I cried all the way home and I’ve been crying ever since. One day she’ll be my age and by God I hope she doesn’t go through the same ordeal.
However, the unfortunate woman was not without support. A prominent member of the Irish colostomy bag community weighed in to back her. Louth TD Gerry Adams, hitting out at the incident, called for a “full and fulsome” apology from Ryanair. He travels regularly and would not like to be banned from flights just because he is full of shit.