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After the shamrocks have wilted and the leprechaun costumes put away for another year, it seems timely to ask what it means be Irish today.
Beyond dispute, we call home the most beautiful country in the world.
Especially around St Patrick’s Day, we remember those who had to leave over the centuries to make a better life elsewhere, and mourn the fact that our young still require to leave in their thousands.
My son’s class at school couldn’t organise a ten year reunion, as there were so few of them left here.
The British knew that in executing the leaders of Éirí Amach na Casca 1916 - the visionaries, poets, thinkers, the intellectuals whose plans would have delivered a vibrant and progressive Irish nation - they had successfully subverted the revolution.
The flag flying over the administrative buildings changed, but as Connolly had predicted, the British ideology and mindset remained intact and the hopes and dreams of the dispossessed were not to be accommodated in the new nations’ plans.
Power was hence given to the Church, not from the people, but from the politicians.
This toxic bequest ensured the disrespect for people and deference to dogma which is the root and source of the scandals which have come to light over the years.
The Church and wider society, who knew that these things were happening, rightly recognise the requirement for humility and atonement for the atrocities of the past.
The emphasis on guilt and retribution is thankfully being replaced by a theology which is more concerned with mercy and forgiveness.
But there is a virulent new religion coming to the fore, of secular materialism and individualism, which I believe will not serve our people either.
It seems ironic, for example, that the sad story of the mother and baby home at Tuam is being used to advocate for further violence towards Irish mothers and their babies.
Some in the media and among the pro-abortion fraternity are using the tragedy of that sad place to argue for abortion “rights” which in a new century will cause the death, without their consent, of another generation of innocent Irish children.
While many other nations are reconsidering their anti life policies, seeing the adverse effects on individuals and society, virulent secularists are using the undoubted failures of organised religion here to push a dogma that offers no better solutions.
They espouse a new pedagogy which seeks to reduce the preborn child to a disposable inconvenience.
There is a relentless campaign to emulate our neighbours, where one in five pregnancies is aborted, the vast majority for social reasons.
Eugenics is now cool.
The right to life becomes a function of someone else’s requirements, dependant on being “wanted” or flawless.
Instead of seeking to support and protect mothers and their babies, and to change the social ad economic circumstances which take away choice, they offer only the abortion clinics with their lack of care for both patients, and their insatiable requirement for profit.
We have come full circle.
Obviously the question of the rights of the preborn child versus the mother’s autonomy and safety is complicated, but without a change in our current laws across the island, we have, I believe a balance which protects both the mother and her child.
The recent guidelines on abortion published last year in the northern state are clear that there is room for a compassionate care in difficult cases within the current laws.
Despite unscientific opinion polls to the contrary, there is no public appetite to introduce the horrors of late term killings or social abortions here.
Furthermore, demanding proper funding of our health service, the requirement that men take responsibility for their fertility as well as women, and a genuine sex and relationship education for our young should mean that unplanned pregnancies become a thing of the past.
I see the protection which both Irish states currently afford to the human child from the earliest stages of life as central to our historic sense of our identity, and an example to others.
It is a progressive and truly republican ideology which crosses any artificial line on our island’s map.
A revocation of our historic insistence on the rights of the human child from early pregnancy is central to who we are as a nation. We should resist the new colonisation.
Anne Mc Closkey.
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