Ireland Callingby John Spain
- Abortion reform Irish style - Women still have no rights over their own bodies, continue to travel to the UK for procedure
- We’re total abortion hypocrites - proposals for new legislation were laughable
- Catch 22 for Irish abortion law - navigating Ireland’s rigid, Catholic influence legal framework and Savita Halappanavar’s case
- The late Baroness Margaret Thatcher had her good points
- Letters from the tax man - the mounting cost of Ireland's property tax and running the country
The outline of the government's proposals for legislation on abortion were agreed by the cabinet and published last week.
It's important to remember that what we have so far is the heads of the bill rather than the full detail. There will be much discussion as all the detail emerges in the coming weeks, and the overall bill may be finessed somewhat before it becomes law.
The abortion debate in Ireland gathered pace here last week as the outlines of what the government has in mind began to emerge. The proposals are so ridiculous they are laughable.
We've always been known as the island of saints and scholars. To that should now be added the word hypocrites.
The inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar did not blame anyone for her death. Despite all we have heard over the past two weeks, no one is to be held accountable.
Even the hospital is not to be blamed, despite the admission of the consultant (senior doctor) involved in Savita's care that her death was due to a "systems failure" in her treatment in hospital (mainly due to poor communication and mistakes). Instead the main finding of the inquest is that Savita died of "medical misadventure."
There were two big stories here last week.
First, there was the seven year extension Ireland was given in the schedule for paying back its bailout loans.
One thing is sure -- it's going to be painful for everyone.
At midnight last Thursday the disastrous blanket guarantee given to the Irish banks in September 2008 by the last government reached the end of its extended term and finally came to an end.
The present government believes that the banks are strong enough now to function without the guarantee and will be able to access the funding they need without state back-up.
Here's hoping you all had a great St. Patrick's Day. In Dublin it was less ecstatic than usual, possibly because of the unseasonably cold weather that has afflicted us for the past two weeks.
I see from the TV pictures that it was the same over there, with what looked like sleet showers falling on the New York parade at some stages. That did not seem to dampen enthusiasm in the Big Apple.
In the last few weeks we have been listening to lots of positive noises being made about Ireland. For the first six months of this year Ireland holds the EU presidency, so there are important people visiting here all the time for important EU meetings and they tend to say nice things about us when they're here.
Recently it was European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso who hailed our economic recovery, saying the country is "turning the corner" and well on the road to recovery.
Viewing the sequester controversy in the U.S. from this side of the Atlantic last week was a reminder of how much we have in common with you guys over there.
The financial crisis in Europe, in the wake of the global downturn, has been caused largely by governments (like in Ireland) that can't balance their spending with their revenue and that run massive, unsustainable budget deficits. And it's the same in the U.S.
Last week Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny delivered an emotional apology in the Dail (Parliament) to the women who had spent time in the notorious Magdalene laundries in Ireland, mainly in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
The name of the Magdalene laundries -- called after Mary Magdalene, the fallen woman or prostitute who was forgiven by Jesus -- gives you a good idea of what Irish society of the time thought of the women who were locked up in these grim institutions.
Don't you love the way the Irish laugh in the face of adversity? Whatever the problem is, you can count on us to turn it into a joke. And let's face it, this horse meat scandal was just made for it ... it's all over Facebook and Twitter here.
There are the ones that give advice on ordering in an Irish restaurant: "I'll start with some horse d'oeuvres before I go on to the mane course."
What a week! You will have read about the dramatic events in Ireland last week, culminating in a deal with the European Central Bank that the government claims is a significant victory in our battle to get some of the massive debt burden we carry lifted off the nation's shoulders.
The deal means that our borrowing will be cut by €20 billion, the headlines said.
The callous, almost casual, murder of a detective Garda (police officer) here more than a week ago united the country in outrage and grief. It also made it a very uncomfortable week for the reformed IRA gunmen in Sinn Fein who now sit in the Dail (Parliament).
Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was part of one of the usual two-man security details that accompany significant cash transfers here. This involves two armed detectives in a car who accompany the cash vans as they do their rounds transferring money between bank branches and savings and loans offices, post offices, credit unions and so on.
Meanwhile, the death of rural Ireland continues.
He is young, conservative and tough, even if it's hidden behind an informal, engaging personality. It's church business as usual, then.
There will be more detailed coverage of the church's position here as the abortion debate develops in the weeks ahead.
This week there are people all over America deciding on Christmas gifts for their children. Well here's an idea -- tell your children that one of your presents to them will be a promise that next year you will campaign for or support major change on gun laws in the U.S. And explain to them why this will be the best Christmas present the children of America will ever get.
It all makes a very bleak prospect for Christmas and the New Year.
Now it's up to the government to decide what to do. It's not just a question of meeting the demands of the European Court. It's because we do not want to see another tragedy like Savita.
Thanks for nothing, Enda.
3 billion payment on bank debt back to Europe.
The bottom line is we never owed this money and we need it back. Instead of air kissing Merkel, Kenny should be threatening her with an Irish divorce from Europe.
be consigned to where it belongs -- the history books.
appears to have beguiled a lot of people outside Ireland that all will be well in the Irish garden. But the reality is very different. The truth is we're a long way from any kind of Celtic Comeback.
Action speaks louder than words. And so far there has been no action worth talking about.
You don't think we're up to it? Just wait a couple of months. The upcoming budget in December could be the turning point.
Howlin's full title, by the way, is minister for public expenditure and reform. That's right -- REFORM. Don't laugh.
Not only would it solve most of our budget problem this year, it would be the fair thing to do. Everyone would be carrying the burden. It just might prevent the ticking pensions time bomb going off.
No one here seems to find any of this a problem. I don't have the latest figures, but the number of guns per 100 population in Ireland is around five. It's an insult to the intelligence of the American people that nothing is done about gun control once and for all.
It's sad but true that we are unlikely to get real reform here until it's shoved down our throats by the EU and the IMF.
In comparison, Fifty Shades is as erotic as the Bible.
If we were irresponsible, so were they. On that basis, it's only fair that the cost of sorting out the mess in the Irish banks should involve the German taxpayer as well as the Irish taxpayer.
They're not capable of doing it by themselves. Sad, but true.
“What good is it to you? You get all that money but you have still got to sit in your house at night in L.A. and you have got to say to yourself, ‘What are you doing? What is my life about?’ Where he has gone now is a pretty empty place."
Ole! It's the Spanish solution to the Irish problem.
This week we're going to give you a break from the mind-numbing economics and politics of the euro crisis and the referendum here on the Fiscal Compact Treaty. It will be unavoidable next week in the run up to the vote in Ireland on May 31, so make the most of your time off!
So this week we will ignore all that euro stuff. There also happens to be a good reason for switching the focus this week because it gives us the chance to take a look at an important new book which was published in Dublin on Tuesday, May 22.
He was rampant -- there is no other word for it -- over four decades from the 1950s to the 1990s as he was shifted around from parish to parish and even from country to country. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of children were abused by him.
Eventually he was jailed in the north, and subsequently in the south. His case was so controversial that it led to the fall of the Fianna Fail/Labor government here in the 1990s over the attorney general's handling of Smyth's extradition.
Having brought down a taoiseach (prime minister) back then, it seems certain that Smyth, who died in prison here in 1997, will now be responsible for bringing down a cardinal as well.