What they said:                                                                                                       Updated: 6 Dec  2005: UN re Child rights
"..chock-full of material and ideas.." (FMA's Media Report, Spring 00)
"Valuable media-watching source" (Inst for Br-Ir Studies, ucd, 00)
"There's plenty of attitude here." (Online.ie Sitewatch, 22 Feb 01)
".. not a work of art" (Editor, Irish Media Review, 12 Jan 01)
Cited by Modem World  (Irish Times, 12 March 01)


An independent review of fairness and accuracy

in Irish Media

Current issue 1:
Paying for Propaganda
        - The Licence Fee

BBC found guilty of censorship

Current issue 2:
Not so Nice II ...

2004, and all that ..

Current issue 3:
The (former) High Commissioner     speaks her mind

Current issue 4:
-  Referendum on Abortion

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International Criminal Court (ICC),

Human Rights Commission Act

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(under continuous construction)

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      3. RTE found guilty of unfairness by Supreme Court 26 January 2000.
      4. New Broadcasting Bill signed by President 14 March 2001. RTE escapes again: Still no sanctions for breaches of the Act!

  • Constitution of Ireland and Legislation
  • Broadcasting:
      "Within the pale of truth, the press is a noble institution,
      equally the friend of science and civil liberty"

      (Thomas Jefferson, 1743 - 1826, former US President)

    Ní mar síltear bítear
    (Peig Sayers)
              25 March 2004

      "[Re-] Defining the Family"

      In the article of Mary Coughlan, TD, Minister for Social and Family Affairs, appearing in the Irish Catholic, 18 March, one might be forgiven for thinking that, with a bit of re-definition, we would be there.

      But is it that simple?

      Mary Coughlan speaks of the decline of the nuclear family, of the fall in the birth rate and the increase in the average age of the population.  On what she sees as the positive side, she says that there has been a veritable explosion in the growth of female employment.  She seeks to "strengthen the family", and sees the challenge now in supporting women and men to "reconcile work and family life especially when they have caring responsibilities for children, and other dependent family members".

      She believes that values are changing and that we should accommodate ourselves to that fact.  The Constitution should be changed accordingly.  Startlingly, for a Government Minister, she implied elsewhere that it could be ignored.

      What does the Irish Constitution say about the family?

      Article 41 states, inter alia that:

      "The State recognises the Family as the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society,  .."

      " .. guarantees to protect the Family .."

      "… endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity .. "

      "… guard with special care the institution of Marriage,  "

      These are very valuable provisions, and are not found in many other constitutions.

      Our Constitution is today foremost in Constitutions world-wide.  One of its major guiding principles is the protection of the real rights of children.  This is evidenced in its support for commitment and responsibility in regard to the institution of marriage, to the family and to life.

      However, while giving lip-service to the welfare of children, Mary Coughlan is mainly concerned with the effect on adults.  Mention of marriage is very largely avoided, as is the effect on children of "other forms" of the Family.

      (Neither is there any mention of "marriage" of same-sex couples, or of their "right" to "adopt" children.  The Government supports these concepts: see report  of National Economic and Social Forum (NESF), June 2003). (Irish Times, 25 July 2003).

      Equality and independence of women must indeed be achievable and be achieved.  But Mary Coughlan sees only one solution.  Women are being forced out into the workplace by economic necessity, despite the fact that a very substantial majority would prefer to choose to remain at home and be a full-time mother.  Again, the child is asked to pay the price.

      The emphasis at the Conferences, sponsored by Mary Coughlan's Department, on provision of "childcare" has more to do with getting women out of the home and into the workplace, than with the welfare of children. The terms "husband" and "wife" are not used. The emphasis on providing and "funding"  (ie providing money, partly at the expense of families who rear their own children) of "childcare" facilities is dealing with the symptoms, not with than the problem.  This (and other) Governments, are now seeking solutions to those problems which they themselves have created.

      The destructive short-term and long-term effects of the so-called 'liberal agenda' on the family is well documented: yet no references to these sources is made.

      It would indeed be a tragedy if the Irish Constitution were replaced by a document which treated the child as a chattel, and children, despite the spurious remarks to the contrary of Mary Coughlan, as second-class citizens.

      Mary Coughlan is now paving the way for the ignoring of this Constitution, and for its replacement by an anodyne European constitution, to be "interpreted" by a small coterie of lawyers, rather than by the people themselves in a referendum.

      Mary Coughlan's article is, then, a less than honest account of the real agenda of the so-called "family policy makers".

      NEART attended the (half-day) conference in Dublin to which she refers. But none of the comments made was taken into account.    This despite the fact that NEART enjoys the support of a very large number of families, organisations and individuals throughout the country.

      Towards the end of her article, Mary Coughlan invites readers of the Irish Catholic to now "forward [her] your views and comments"

      However, reports on the "consultations" have already been published by the Department of Social and Family Affairs in February 2004.

      Readers, therefore, must not imagine that anything they say is going to influence Government policy.  The invitation is no more than an afterthought, and Mary Coughlan is asking us to participate in what is an exercise in PR.

      Your views should still be sent.

      But I would suggest that they should reject in no uncertain terms, Mary Coughlan's  views on the family and on the Constitution.



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        donal o'driscoll, dublin, ireland.
        copiable, on acknowledgement of source.