The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland


6:03 pm - May 19th 2012

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contribution by Evan O’Quigley

All of Ireland stood and stared in confusion last month when a backbencher MP stated that ‘fornication’ was the main cause of unwanted pregnancies, as a defence against bringing in legislation that would allow for abortion under certain circumstances.

Michelle Mulherin, A TD (MP) for Fine Gael, the mainstream centre-right party, said: “abortion as murder, therefore sin … which is no more sinful than … greed, hate and fornication. The latter, being fornication I would say, is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

Most were shocked; having not seen or heard this kind of language since Ireland was ruled by Bishops in the Catholic Church.

The last several decades have been mostly those of progress, with contraception being legalised in 1980, divorce in 1996 culminating with the passing of the Civil Partnership Act in 2010.

It is often that for this reason Irish people tend not to identify openly as politically conservative. Most parties both the right and left prefer to use words like liberal and progressive despite their actual place on the political spectrum.

While in other countries, Conservatism has prouder traditions, in Ireland is associated with reactionary Catholicism that plagued the country for too long in the twentieth-century.

This hasn’t the only incident of this nature. Irelands Minster of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton last year sparked controversy when she commented she was against same-sex marriage, due to marriage being ‘primarily about children’, and its main purpose to ‘propagate’ [sic]. This led to her party leadership having to distance themselves from Minister Creighton and comment that her views are ‘her own’ and not those of the party.

But a poll conducted in 2010 showed that 67% of Irish supported gay marriage. Despite this public support, and the support of all other party leaders including, the deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his party have not moved on the subject.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network has said that Kenny has missed a “great opportunity” in not following President Obama’s lead on this issue following the recent announcement of his support for same-sex nuptials.

It seems that the Christian-Democrat Fine Gael party, who at this time hold a majority in the Irish Parliament (Dail Eireann) are the main instrument in Irish conservatism, and despite the fact that they, as a party, hold the majority support of the country, most do not identify with their socially conservative faction.

A war has been waged on certain members of the party with the Irish media and consensus. Fine Gael TD and Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar commented in March that RTE (Ireland’s public broadcaster, the equivalent of the BBC) has a bias towards ‘liberal’ and ‘centre-left’ parties.

Largely, Ireland has secularised and liberalised, with church attendance majorly in decline for the last several decades. The ‘non-religious’ are now the largest group after Catholics according to the latest census taken last year.

Despite this an ugly Christian-right resurgence has begun to bubble, although, perhaps it will die out quickly before coming to light in a major way.

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Reader comments


What exactly is so “shocking” about the statement “fornication is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies”? If you have sex a lot, of course you’re more likely to get pregnan than somebody who has sex less oftent. Or is it just the word “fornication” (as opposed to, say, “casual sex”) which is shocking?

Technically she’s right, fornication does cause unwanted pregnancy. I’d go further and say that all non-IVF pregnancy is caused by fornication.

Because it is.

That’s how mammals reproduce.

Sexually.

“From the psychological-engineering point of view, the liberal’s idea of tolerance is a remarkable one. It encourages him to feel magnanimity in upholding his own beliefs whilst damning all others, with little or no care for the truth or reasonableness thereof, which is to say, it encourages him to feel magnanimity in bigotry. Liberal bigotry is that wonderful state of mind in which one is compelled to call a bigot anyone who stands at odds with it, which is to say, it is bigotry made sublime. Or: the typical liberal is so great a bigot that he feels magnanimous as such.”

–Deogolwulf

http://curmudgeonjoy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/intolerable-state-of-affairs.html

Fornication, which means sexual intercourse where neither party is married, is obviously the main cause of abortion. Or do you just object to the word? Nonbelievers are indeed the second-largest bloc in today’s Irish Republic, according to the last census. Catholics, however, are still 85 per cent of the total. Have you got that? Eighty-five. Funny how, in best RTE fashion, you fail to mention it.

Labour MPs defended Catholic schools, and thus all church-based state schools, over several successive decades. The House of Lords inflicted a cross-party defeat on Thatcher’s attempt to end Christian religious instruction in state schools. Early Labour activists resisted schemes to abort, contracept and sterilise the working class out of existence. Upper and upper-middle-class people joined the early Labour Party precisely because their backgrounds and involvement in the Church of England had made them familiar with the importance of State action against social evils, and they used their new party as a platform from which to defend Establishment against Liberal assaults.

Many Social Catholics in post-War Italy promoted Keynesianism and felt a strong affinity with the domestic policies of the Attlee Government, but they were also sceptical about NATO. Most of the Italian Left has now been subsumed into the Democratic Party, which has elected as its President Rosy Bindi, late of Azione Cattolica and Democrazia Cristiana. Her election, together with that of her preferred candidate for Leader, is an immensely positive sign, and she herself deserves much credit for having reached out in this way, when we consider that she lost at least one close friend to the Red Brigades. Their erstwhile supporters exist on the fringes of her major new party. But its internal electoral results leave no doubt as to what is its mainstream, as to where its centre of gravity lies.

The Italian Democrats sit with the British Labour Party in the European Parliament, in a Group which has changed its name in order to accommodate, especially, those Democrats with Christian Democratic backgrounds. Let us hope that this fraternity will have a significant impact on the party famously “owing more to Methodism than to Marx”, the historic British vehicle of Social Catholicism, and still the preferred electoral choice of the clear majority of British Catholics.

Jakob Kaiser’s vision was of a German Christian Democracy that looked to British Labour for its inspiration in giving effect to Catholic Social Teaching, and which gave such effect by emphasising co-operatives, the public ownership of key industries, extensive social insurance, and the works councils later suggested in the SDP’s founding Limehouse Declaration and advocated by David Owen, while also seeking a United Germany as a bridge between East and West, allied neither to NATO nor to the Soviet Bloc.

In huge numbers, members and supporters of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and for that matter the Irish Labour Party, have felt able to become members and supporters of the British Labour Party. The witness of Bob Santamaria in Australia is also of crucial historical importance, even if as a warning at certain points.

Cardinal Manning led the 1889 London dockers’ march serenaded by the Salvation Army band, and he played a pivotal role in settling that strike. When the Attlee Government legislated to regulate marriage, it simply presupposed that marriage could only ever be the union of one man and one woman. Catholic and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, fought tooth and nail against abortion and easier divorce, not least including both Thatcher’s introduction of abortion up to birth and Major’s introduction of divorce legally easier than release from a car hire contract, as well as Major’s abolition of adultery and desertion as faults in divorce cases, a recognition whereby the community at large declared its disapproval of those actions even though they were not criminal offences. Methodist and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, fought tooth and nail against deregulated drinking and gambling. John Smith was also among those who successfully organised, especially through the USDAW shop workers’ union, against Thatcher’s and Major’s attempts to destroy the special character of Sunday and of Christmas Day, delivering the only Commons defeat of Thatcher’s Premiership.

Mary Whitehouse voted Labour from time to time, and Lord Longford’s was a lifelong Labour allegiance, up to and including Cabinet service. The Parliamentary Labour Party voted unanimously against the Finance Bill that abolished the recognition of marriage, as such, in the taxation system. The trade unions fought numerous battles to secure paternal authority in families and communities by securing its economic base in high-waged, high-skilled, high-status male employment. Trade union banners frequently depicted Biblical scenes and characters, as well as historic landmarks geographical and chronological, including the fallen of two World Wars. The name of Margaret Thatcher is abominated in pro-life and pro-family circles, matched only by the abomination of the name of Tony Blair.

As in most European countries, and as in anywhere having the British monarch at the Head, our State is in and of itself an institutional expression of Christianity, whether or not there is an Established Church. Therefore, our Welfare State and other social democratic measures, as in those other countries, are in and of themselves expression of Christian charity and of the Biblical, Patristic, Medieval, Catholic, and classically Protestant understandings of society as an organic whole.

American or wannabe American critics of the Welfare State as secular and secularising are not only rather ahistorical in their own terms and somewhat out of touch with the profound Christianity of rural, working-class and black America. They are also captive to the theory of the constitutional separation of Church and State, which has nothing to do with Britain any more than with, say, Germany with her church taxes and her Kirchentag, or Italy with her Crucifixes in the courtroom and the classroom. The solution is not to remove the expressions of Christian charity and of the Christian concepts of organic society from the American civic order, but to remove the American civic order’s formal repudiation of their basis.

3

And of course the liberal is a man, clearly the writer wasn’t bigoted!

4

The Welfare State is not a charitable institution, it is based on equality and access of all.

5, that is a false dichotomy, and, as an answer to what I wrote, it is an historically illiterate statement.

To repeat: “As in most European countries, and as in anywhere having the British monarch at the Head, our State is in and of itself an institutional expression of Christianity, whether or not there is an Established Church. Therefore, our Welfare State and other social democratic measures, as in those other countries, are in and of themselves expressions of Christian charity and of the Biblical, Patristic, Medieval, Catholic, and classically Protestant understandings of society as an organic whole.” Marxists, on the other hand, were always against them.

Thus, in January of this year, the Lords Spiritual did not persuade the House of Lords that there should be no cap whatever on a household’s benefits entitlement, but only that it should not include Child Benefit. The universal payment of Child Benefit to mothers is a very strong argument for the restoration of the tax allowance for fathers, and with it for the whole series of measures necessary for the State to do its Christian duty of securing paternal authority, including the economic basis of that authority in high-waged, high-skilled, high-status male employment.

And Child Benefit is one of the means whereby the State acknowledges that the procreation of human life is a good in and of itself, in obedience to the first commandment of God to Man in Scripture. Our civilisation, including its social democracy, was built and can only be sustained on that very high, Biblical view of human demographic, economic and cultural expansion and development.

We must understand climate change in that light: over thousands of years, our species has demonstrated its God-given capacity to meet environmental challenges and to overcome environmental obstacles. We have to retain our full confidence in that capacity. One small way of doing so is by retaining universal Child Benefit while not counting it towards any – in itself, necessary – cap on entitlement.

This is only one among numerous examples. The defence and restoration of our social democracy is in the terms that produced it in the first place: Christian charity, and the Biblical, Patristic, Medieval, Catholic, and classically Protestant understandings of society as an organic whole.

I too am shocked to hear that extramarital sex is liable to be a cause of abortion.

6

Yep, nice expression of conservativism but I agree with @5, the welfare state, as against the original poor law, is based on equality and nothing more. All pay into it and most take from it, there’s no kudos here for Christians, they’ll have to find another way to administer their charity and their entrance into sky land.

Marxists generally believe that religion tends to give out messages about god-given social orders, and, appeals to tradition ,gives the same message. Of course, this is selective, because when tradition doesn’t suit the purpose of our elites, change is acceptable, even to the most conservative.

And how is climate change related to child benefit, if anything, it enables more spending on consumables which is likely to have a negative affect on climate change.

9. Dick the Prick

When did bigoted conservatism ever go away? Must have been stuck in a lift.

10. Shatterface

When someone uses the word fornication I’m usually laughing too hard to listen to the rest of their argument.

Then I call them a mewling quim.

@4 and 6

Why don’t you try writing an article rather than writing an essay in the comments section? Otherwise condense your point into a couple of short paragraphs.

12. Shatterface

To repeat: “As in most European countries, and as in anywhere having the British monarch at the Head, our State is in and of itself an institutional expression of Christianity, whether or not there is an Established Church. Therefore, our Welfare State and other social democratic measures, as in those other countries, are in and of themselves expressions of Christian charity and of the Biblical, Patristic, Medieval, Catholic, and classically Protestant understandings of society as an organic whole.”

By that same logic, the slavery and serfdom of previous centuries were purer expressions of Christian values since the the state was closer to its origin in Christianity.

Shatterface-

I know this is a liberal site, socially as well as fiscally, so its readers who comment on articles are likely to sometimes manifest the religio-phobic view of much modern centre-left politics as well as nearly all far-left politics.

However, it frustrates me when the “same old same old” are raised as points by the religiophobes. In this case, slavery. The most ardent anti-slavery campaigners were motivated by Christian faith. Slavery or bonded labour was always going to exist in some form while untold millions lived in abject poverty, the birth and death rates were enormous and a tiny minority hogged power. Once the industrialisation process began a couple of centuries ago it was Christians who smashed slavery, with silly misinterpretations of scripture used by those who continued to support it like Robert E.Lee. The OT “slavery” was voluntary and the alternative would have been worse; the people in it would have had NO protection, whilst once under servanthood they were under the care of their master and not all were cruel.

The NT slavery passages are in two contexts: undermining slavery by promoting equality (“receive him and treat him, not as a slave, but rather as a brother”- Paul to Philemon on his servant Onesimus; “slave-traffickers” in a list of wicked people; “if any man be bond he shall seek his freedom if possible”) and promoting obedience due to the fact that disobedience would hinder spreading of the Gospel by getting them into even more trouble than preaching Christ was doing.

14. So Much For Subtlety

Yeah, funny this guy is in the ruling party isn’t it? Might suggest that his views are not that unpopular after all.

In the end the outrage of this article is beside the point. This is not the issue. Apart from the language, pretty much everyone here is in agreement about the causes of so much abortion I’d guess. The question is whether or not you think indiscriminate sex with as many different people in as many different possible ways is a good thing or not. I am guessing a lot of Irish people don’t.

SFMS- Correct. The majority of comments here show that this is a non-story and was probably concocted by some anti-religious reverse bigot.

The two main comments supporting it are
I)radically anti-religious, referring to Heaven as “sky land”, which is a childish misinterpretation and promoting a class warfare/ “control hoi polloi” position on religion which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny
II)supporting the sort of tendentious nonsense that feminists ruminate on rather than fight genuine injustice like their first-wave foremothers a century or more ago. Using “he” to refer to an individual of sex unspecified is bigoted? As opposed to being the centuries-old convention of the English language, with easily available etymology that does not reflect any patriarchy?

Both of which attack the idea of the Welfare State as charitable. I would also deny that compulsory taxation is charity, however the principles it was built on are entirely within Christian democratic tradition and the moral value of assisting those in need. From the 19th century Christians of many denominations accepted that in a world of high social complexity and rapid industrial change, where the Church was no longer a hegemonic institution attracting near universal respect, there was no serious alternative to central government action in securing a fair deal for the poor. Of course their faith led them to reject far-left views calling for the abolition of property, the family and sexual self-restraint with religion itself often being the ultimate target for annihilation by those who thought it superfluous in their time.

No-one was claiming that Christians get “kudos” for paying taxes into the WS; we do not earn our way into Heaven, contra the pop-culture idea of Heaven as reward for those who do “good” and Hell as a roasting flame for pederasts and serial killers. We trust Jesus paid the penalty for our sin as we cannot earn anything ourselves with a thrice-holy, immaculate God. Also how can welfare be based on “equality” when it’s far less than most working people live on and it depends on so many factors?

16. the a&e charge nurse

[15] ‘radically anti-religious, referring to Heaven as “sky land”, which is a childish misinterpretation and promoting a class warfare/ “control hoi polloi” position on religion which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny’ – object to the language by all means, but which ever way you cut it atheists simply cannot take seriously the big tomes which are purported to reflect the word of, err, god.

Not only that, but from an atheists point of view there is usually an undercurrent of immediate apprehension once religious fervour becomes entwined in politics.

I do not know a great deal about individual politicos in the republic, but is Michelle anti-fornicator Mulherin a sort of irish version of mad-nad?

15

The welfare state has absolutely nothing to do with charitable intentions, it is an insurance scheme, unlike the original Poor Law, which could be argued is based on helping people. Health care and education are essential elements within complex industrial societies and the markets were unable to deliver so the state stepped in. They stepped in to fulfill a need not to ‘help the poor’

Now you may argue that in the past religious organizations did administer both health and education as a charity, but, not in sufficient quantity and certainly to educate all children, it needed the concensus of parents, and that was unlikely to happen when the wages of working children were crucial for survival.

There are so many comments @6 which are just plain wrong, you cannot take every idea and inspiration and suggest that they are drawn from Christian intentions (and I include both the negative and positive) You can also take any comment from the bible and use it to uphold one view or another.

And, re the OP, the morals of our past monarchs have been less than pure, and the Christian church had no qualms in supporting such actions with the exception of a few. And the church wasn’t very forthcoming about the many incidents of child abuse, often shielding those involved. Although I don’t believe that child abuse is a Christian value, the people who are supposedly representative of Christianity did not address the issues when the incidents came to light.

18. Limiting Factor

Quote – “Despite this an ugly Christian-right resurgence has begun to bubble, although, perhaps it will die out quickly before coming to light in a major way.”

I wouldn’t bet on that. It’s entirely likely that the christian-right resurgence will be getting various kinds of support from American fundamentalists, and man, they have money to burn.

19. Roger Mexico

#14 So Much For Subtlety

Yeah, funny this guy is in the ruling party isn’t it? Might suggest that his views are not that unpopular after all.

Hmm… So presumably everything said by any member of the Conservative Party (like FG the largest Party in a coalition) is “not that unpopular”

Oh and this guy is a she (the name Michelle’s a bit of a give-away).

#4 David Lindsay

Fornication, which means sexual intercourse where neither party is married, is obviously the main cause of abortion

I think you’ll find that for it not to be fornication both parties have to be married to each other. If I were Mrs Lindsay I’d get worried. Anyway it’s not necessarily obvious at all. Many married women have abortions because they don’t want another child at a particular time, never mind all those terminations carried out for medical reasons. Whether they outnumber unmarried women or not is a matter of statistics, but it’s not ‘obvious’.

Anyway, surely the main reason for Irish abortions is Ryanair? As the Irish export the problem to the UK so they can still feel holy but not actually have to deal with the consequences.

And yes, unlike David Lindsey, I know TD Mulherin only said “fornication I would say, is probably the single most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies in this country” which is more reasonable, though still possibly wrong. The more common reaction to her speech seems to have been mockery rather than shock (sex causes babies – who knew?) particularly of her language. But in the closed if diminishing world of conventional Irish politics saying anything unusual is treated as shocking.

What her outburst did do however is show up the thinking that still dominates that closed world while much of the rest of Ireland has moved on.

The title of this thread is completly wrong. There is no resurgence of anything in Ireland.
As people have to be told by the OP what a TD is and what RTE is, I think it’s fair to say that most people reading this won’t have a clue about Irish politics or society.

21. Abdul Abulbul Emir

when a backbencher MP stated that ‘fornication’ was the main cause of unwanted pregnancies, as a defence against bringing in legislation that would allow for abortion under certain circumstances.

Mrs A says

Abdul. back home in the village they taught us that pregnancy was something to do with a man and a woman doing what comes naturally. So how is it that it has nothing to do with fornication ? I know I am a simple peasant girl but I would have thought that fornication had everything to do with pregnancy unwanted or otherwise.

What strange people these westerners are Abdul.

Hush child I say. What this gentleman is saying is that fornication is somehow ‘ok’ and not to be challenged.

That’s how these westerners think.

It will take a long time to understand them Mrs A.

Peace

22. tigerdarwin

@ 13”However, it frustrates me when the “same old same old” are raised as points by the religiophobes”

Eh there ae socially liberal religous people you know,

23. tigerdarwin

er keyboard meltdown are and religious

24. tigerdarwin

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/rTdwvzkP

  2. Jason Brickley

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/iUXYo2X3

  3. Michael Bater

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/2xyZ6HKw via @libcon

  4. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/0QOkM0CA

  5. Newsaccess

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland | Liberal … http://t.co/m8FwPxI1

  6. Alan Casual

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/rTdwvzkP

  7. Evan O'Quigley

    Is there a new conservative movement starting in Ireland? http://t.co/SV90NcfG

  8. Evan O'Quigley

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/rTdwvzkP

  9. sunny hundal

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/rTdwvzkP

  10. Andrew Palmer

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/rTdwvzkP

  11. Fiona Bloomer

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland http://t.co/rTdwvzkP

  12. BevR

    The resurgence of bigoted conservatism in Ireland | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/UdSckOG1 via @libcon

  13. Shane

    @SplinterSunrise I just seen this idiotic article by @EvOQuigley. I really can't get over how bloody stupid it is: http://t.co/RPpX0AK7

  14. Shane

    Lads don't miss this this unbelievably idiotic article by one @EvOQuigley. The sheer fucking stupidity is hilarious: http://t.co/RPpX0AK7

  15. Shane

    Lads don't miss this unbelievably idiotic article by one @EvOQuigley. The sheer fucking stupidity is hilarious: http://t.co/RPpX0AK7

  16. Evan O'Quigley

    @SplinterSunrise I just seen this idiotic article by @EvOQuigley. I really can't get over how bloody stupid it is: http://t.co/RPpX0AK7





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