Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Letter in the Irish Times Today

Sir, – Donald Clarke’s latest column (“If you don’t approve of the church then don’t take part in its rituals”, Opinion & Analysis, June 7th), takes the guise of an appeal to his fellow unbelievers not to take part in the rituals of the Catholic Church if they don’t believe in them.

He does, however, manage to get in the usual sideswipes against the church, such as a passing mention of its “sex-hating doctrines”.

The Irish Times now has Fintan O’Toole, Donald Clarke and Eamon McCann serving up regular dollops of anti-Catholic and anti-Christian invective. All of this is “balanced” by the lone voice of Breda O’Brien.

Your newspaper has the right to take whatever editorial line it chooses, and your columnists have the right to express their opinions as they see fit.

However, if The Irish Times has any serious commitment to fairness, it must make more of an effort to represent the huge proportion of the Irish people who are not convinced by the rather hysterical polemics of Messrs O’Toole, Clarke and McCann. – Yours, etc,



Woodford Drive,


Dublin 22.

Here is the link.

It seems to me that that Irish anti-Catholicism is getting coarser and more stupid all the time. Fintan O'Toole is an old-school Irish anti-Catholic, perhaps in the style of a Sean O'Faolain-- cultured, educated, occasionally gracious, appreciative of the existential mysteries that organised religion seeks to address. At the bottom of the scale there's Donald Clarke, whose writing never shows the least flicker of originality or open-mindedness, or the slightest awareness that there are depths to the human condition that can't be captured in a slogan. I don't know where I'd put Eamon McCann.


  1. Hi M,

    Read the letter this morning online. Knew before I had finished scrolling down that it had to be from your pen! Well done. There might even have been one or two more on the staff at the IT you could have included in your list ... ;-)

    If they do take your advice and decide take on another non-liberal voice, do you think they might offer the post to you or me? :-)

  2. Ha, I'm not holding my breath!

    I see the irony of complaining that they don't give a voice to Catholics when they often print my letters, and your own, but the correspondence column is very different from an opinion piece. I can't believe they replaced John Waters, who left because of the anti-Catholic bias, with Eamon McCann. That seems perverse.

  3. Good letter Maolsheachlann! I have spent years becoming increasingly more annoyed with the Irish Times - not just with the invective from columnists, but the predictable selectivity in story choice (which also involves suppressing many stories of importance, which are not consonant with the paper's 'values') and the heavy bias in the treatment of stories that they decide to run with. At this stage, I have more or less given up on that paper - I haven't bought a copy in many months. Their angles are so predictable that I have ceased to care. In short, I am a survivor of IT prejudice. Best wishes, Paul
    p.s. now don't get me started on RTE!

  4. Thanks, Paul! Oh, what about RTE, by the way? Kidding.

    I bought my father a subscription to The Irish Times for his birthday a couple of years back and he asked me to cancel it after a while, because he didn't want to be giving them money, for the very reasons you mention. It doesn't really seem to make commercial sense, because how many Catholics and social conservatives must make the same decision?

  5. Thanks, Paul! Now, what do you think about RTE? Kidding.

    I bought my father a subscription to The Irish Times a few years ago, and he eventually asked me to cancel it for this very reason. So this bias must be costing them money if other readers think like that-- which I imagine they do.