The changing character of this society is at its sharpest in the remaking of the relationship between corporate Catholicism and the State.
Where once one was almost an extension of the other, where once this was a monotheistic society in all but name, today’s Ireland wears many hats. It is far more inclusive, tolerant, and secular than before. It is no longer almost penitential in nature.
As that relationship evolves, flash points such as the control of schools and, amazingly, the unbuilt maternity hospital persist. Over recent years, the commitment of congregations to meet redress obligations stretched that relationship too.
It seems only fair, then, to acknowledge the Christian Brothers have finally discharged their obligations under the 50/50 deal brokered all those years ago. That acknowledgement must be tempered, however, by the reality that the State has borne the greater proportion of redress costs.
Taxpayers have paid around €1.5bn while religious organisations have paid €365m. The agreement may have been observed but the duty and fairness inherent in the redress deal have not.