Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Iona Institute on the Citizen's Assembly

The Iona Institute is an Irish think tank which lobbies for family values, religious freedom, and social conservatism in Ireland. It's often the only organisation batting on the opposite side to the million and one socially 'progressive' quangos and pressure groups in Ireland, not to mention the entire Irish media and political establishment. The sight of one Iona Institute representative arguing against three, four or five people (plus the presenter) on an Irish current affairs show is a regular one.

As we all know, the bishops in Ireland have very little stomach for resisting the liberal agenda, releasing a pastoral letter now and again but otherwise backing away from controversy. Perhaps the most lamentable instance of this was Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's craven behaviour during the same-sex marriage referendum, essentially apologising for the Church's participation in public life.

I have such a high regard for the Iona Institute that the only job that I've applied for outside UCD library, ever since I started there in 2001, was the job of researcher with the Iona Institute. I didn't get it, though.

The Citizen's Assembly is a group of citizens "randomly" chosen in order to examine Ireland's constitutional and propose changes to it. It's a ridiculous entity. In a democracy, the people can lobby their government directly-- why on earth should we need this body?

The answer, of course, is that the Citizen's Assembly exists to suggest socially progressive changes to our Constitution, and to give an aura of "officialdom" and democracy to these suggestions.

The Iona Institute has some very interesting articles on the Citizen's Assembly, here, here, here, and further down the blog archive. Check them out!


  1. Séamus(Australia)March 13, 2017 at 2:42 AM

    People here are often surprised that Irish bishops don't say a bit more on these issues. Often the hierarchy here will. Of course things are a bit different, the Catholic Church is deemed one opinion among a million others, the Anglican Church for one will often bring out a watered down statement about the same issue(s). No doubt people would consider it a return to theocracy if the Irish bishops had an opinion. There was one furore here many years ago but that was totally the journalists' fault: ONE newspaper writer who thought they knew something about excommunication put it to our Arch."will Catholic politicians be excommunicated if they vote for xxxx?" What he literally answered was "that is officially the penalty but I should hope we're not using such a blunt weapon as excommunication". The headlines the next day: CHURCH THREATENS EXCOMMUNION!

    1. Ha. Well, you have the magnificent Cardinal Pell over there. We have no similar figure. A lot of bishops were replaced recently and, given that it was in the wake of an apostolic visitation from a papal nuncio who was quite conservative, the hope was that these would be bishops with fire in their bellies. But that doesn't seem to have worked out.

  2. Pell has actually been in Rome full time for several years now. His successor is a Dominican, who is also quite strong on bioethics, but has actually, despite relative youth, been rather unwell since his succession. After the parliamentary debate I mentioned in our state parliament New South Wales had a similar bill, which if I can remember was about creating embryos for stem cells, the press in Sydney asked Pell the same question, got a similar reply, made similar headlines. Catholic politicians were pushing to get him charged, it's a jailable offence to threaten members of any Parliament in Australia to get them to vote any particular way. It was a fizzer in the end