Wednesday, 13th February 2008
Comments made by the Taoiseach on his visit to Waterford on Friday of last week make for interesting analysis. He said, amongst other things, that the small number of outrages, referring specifically to the child sexual abuse scandals, over the last number of years, should not detract from the great and powerful work that the Catholic Church has done and continues to do in Ireland. This is a very curious statement for a number of reasons. Mainly because it reads like a defence of the church. Such a position would have been unheard of a generation ago where the head of the country has to go to the defence of one of the strongest institutions in the State. However, time moves on and things change and one of those things has been the relationship of the Irish people with the Church. The country has made huge economic strides over the last number of decades which has changed things for most people. One other thing that hasn't been as closely remarked upon is the huge social changes which have taken place in the country. This has made all the old certainties less certain than they once were. Not least of these is the position of the church in the country. A huge force for good, the church is none the less still facing challenging times. No longer are people, especially of a younger generation, as quick to agree to what the church line happens to be on any given topic. The old immediate reverence is no longer there. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your point of view but it is a given fact. People no longer accept things without first distilling it through the experience of their own lives. Power might be granted to institutions, political parties or individuals but it doesn't now come automatically as of right. Another area where this is to be seen is in the political sphere. At the moment it is most evident at the Mahon Tribunal where the Taoiseach of the day is being called on what seems like an almost weekly basis to explain his private financial affairs. Again this is something that would have been unheard of even a generation ago. But it is perhaps back to that generation that it is possible to go to understand the Irish people's falling out with politicians. Namely the graft and corruption that was so evident under the Haughey regime. The revelations of his financial dealings had a huge impact on how politicians are perceived and are continued to be perceived right up to this day. As the poem goes: "Romantic Ireland's dead and gone" and, no doubt, it is but inevitably it has meant that we are now living in a clearer and more level headed society than ever before.
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Not so GR8 G8With world attention on Fermanagh as the meeting place of the latest G8 Summit it is no wonder that locals are basking in the reflected spotlight. We have all been told, if we haven't already experienced at first hand, the beauty of the location. We know about the exclusiveness of the hotels that the various leaders are going to be staying as well as some of their security detail. We know about the menus from which they will be choosing from. There is little about summit meeting that the …
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