The abortion debate is heating up in Ireland and one of the most common claims made is that the unborn has a right to life. There are groups dedicated to it such as the Society For The Protection Of The Unborn (SPUC). In fact, the 8th Amendment of the constitution states the unborn child has an equal right to live as the mother. But does it really? Do the unborn really have rights? Do we have duties to them? In my next post I examine when life begins, but right now, I want to look at the question of whether or not there is a right to life. Continue reading
It is said that when Ireland received its independence from Britain in 1921 it handed it over to the Catholic Church. For the next seven decades the Church dominated Irish life and shaped it to suit its teachings. While Ireland never became a theocracy, it came pretty close. Irish politicians of all parties declared their loyalty to the Church and gave the hierarchy unquestioned influence over policy. Politicians declared themselves Catholics first and Irishmen second. And what was the result of this influence? A stagnant society dominated by narrow mindedness sectarian pettiness. A socially suffocating society where all common sense and flexibility was abandoned in place of rigid dogma. An authoritarian atmosphere where all signs of modernity were repressed. Where brutality was condoned and ignored and unimaginable cruelty was shown to women and children, the extent of which is only coming to light now. This is the legacy of the church. Continue reading
WARNING SPOILER ALERT. DON NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE FINAL EPISODE OF HOUSE OF CARDS AND WANT TO DISCUSS THE ENDING. If you haven’t seen House of Cards I recommend you stop reading and go watch it now. It’s a political drama starring Kevin Spacey and unique in that it is only available online and not on television.
The proposed abortion legislation has many flaws and even once it’s passed, Ireland will still have one of the most restrictive regimes in the world. It is probably the most limited bill that could have been passed and includes many hurdles for suicidal women. It says nothing about pregnancy through rape and will do little to stem the tide of women forced to head to England to get abortions. However, all this considered, it is still a step in the right direction. It will protect the life of the mother and hopefully ensure that a tragic death like that of Savita Halappanavar never happens again. Most important of all, it has broken the taboo on abortion and shown that the anti-abortion extremists no longer dominate the debate. Continue reading
- Robert Nielsen discusses the ongoing dispute over the Croke Park II proposals, and why cutting wages is always a bad idea.
At the moment there is a great deal of controversy over the Croke Park Deal. In essence the government is trying to cut the wages of public sector workers while the public sector unions are opposing this. Regardless of the politics of the agreement, cutting wages is bad economics.
Ireland has the most peculiar relationship with abortion in the world. You see, in Ireland we pretend it doesn’t exist. Abortion is something to be ignored at all costs and unlike in most other countries, it is almost completely absent from the political discourse. Abortion is more or less (more on that) completely illegal and in fact the constitution contains an amendment (passed in 1983) that guarantees the “right to life of the unborn” which has an “equal right to life” as the mother. This doesn’t mean abortions don’t take place, they do, but in secret or in England. However, whether we like it or not abortion has exploded onto the political stage and we are going to finally have to deal with the problem that many wish would just disappear. Continue reading
The most common and simple explanation for why communism failed is that people are greedy. This is a gross simplification but does contain some truth. Communism failed to provide incentives for workers and citizens to work hard and be productive. While there are many benefits from equality, if pushed to an extreme it robs people of an incentive to make an effort. There was little if any reward for hard work or innovation and a lack of punishment for poor or inefficient work. The lack of incentives was a major reason for the poor performance of Eastern Europe economies. Why bother working hard if the reward was the same as doing the bare minimal? Continue reading