Following the recent elections in Ireland, a Coalition Government deal having been agreed between the Fine Gael and the Labour Parties a programme for a ‘Government for National Recovery 2011-2016’ has been drawn up. It covers many aspects of national government, including fiscal policies, reform of government, etc. Despite the assurances given to the pro-life movement by Fine Gael many aspects of the programme have caused alarm. Although the entire programme merits reading, I would like to offer the following few extracts for particular attention:
Constitutional Reform –
‘We will … give priority to the following specific constitutional amendments: …
‘A referendum to amend the Constitution to ensure that children’s rights are strengthened, along the lines recommended by the All-Party Oireachtas committee.’
Broader constitutional review –
‘… Provision for same-sex marriage.
‘Amending the clause on women in the home and encourage greater participation of women in public life.
‘Removing blasphemy from the Constitution. …’
‘We will legislate to clarify the law surrounding assisted human reproduction including the law relating [to] parental relationships arising from assisted human reproduction.
‘We will legislate to regulate stem cell research.
‘We acknowledge the recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights subsequent to the established ruling of the Irish Supreme Court on the X-case. We will establish an expert group to address this issue, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise with a view to making recommendations to Government on how this matter should be properly addressed. …
‘We will legislate to change the [sic] organ donation to an opt-out system for organ transplantation, rather than an opt in system so as to improve the availability of organs for patients in desperate need.’
Patronage [in relation to schools] –
‘We will initiate a time-limited Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector to allow all stakeholders including parents to engage in open debate on change of patronage in communities where it is appropriate and necessary. The Forum will have concise terms of reference and will sit for a maximum of 12 months.
‘The Forum’s recommendations will be drawn up into [a] White Paper for consideration and implementation by Government to ensure that [the] education system can provide [a] sufficiently diverse number of schools, catering for all religions and none.
‘We will give parents and local communities the opportunity to have a say in the patronage of existing and future schools, for example by direct ballot.
‘We will also move towards a more pluralist system of patronage at second level, recognising a wider number of patrons.
‘People of non-faith or minority religious backgrounds and publically [sic] identified LGBT people should not be deterred from training or taking up employment as teachers in the State.’
Children, Families and Older People –
‘We will fundamentally reform the delivery of child protection services by removing child welfare and protection from the HSE [Health Service Executive] and creating a dedicated Child Welfare and Protection Agency, reforming the model of service delivery and improving accountability to the Dáil [parliament]. …
‘We will enact legislation to amend tax and social welfare law in respect of civil partnerships. We will amend the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabiting Couples Act 2010 to address any anomalies or omissions, including those relating to children.
‘Our tax, social welfare and other laws should not discourage people from getting married or cohabiting. For example, single mothers lose the One Parent Family Payment if they marry. Over time, we will transform it into a family income-based payment that does not discourage marriage or work.
‘We will modernise and reform outdated elements of family law. We will enact legislation to consolidate and reform the law on adoption.
‘We will complete and implement the National Positive Ageing Strategy so that older people are recognised, supported and enabled to live independent full lives. …’
[Note: additions to the original text are within square brackets.]
I think we should be very afraid of what is in store for Ireland now. We need to be very alert, and we need to hold Fine Gael firmly to the promises that they made to pro-life and pro-family groups prior to the election, particularly given the fact that the number of Labour Dáil deputies is less than half of the number of Fine Gael deputies. There is also reference in this Labour-driven programme to the eradification of 'homophobic bullying' in schools (all bullying is wrong), so it appears that the homosexual and secular lobbies now have a firm grip on the way in which Ireland is heading. Unless, of course, we can do something about that.'