Catholic Ireland’s reluctant undertaker…

This piece by Malachi O’Doherty is the cover story in the latest edition of Magill magazine is well worth a read. It brings to mind Bertrand Russell’s memorable essay “On Catholic and Protestant Sceptics’, in which he notes, “…in the Protestant type departure from tradition is primarily intellectual, whereas in the Catholic type it is primarily practical. The typical Protestant freethinker has not the slightest desire to do anything of which his neighbours disapprove apart from the advocacy of heretical opinions” (ref Tim Madigan’s Madman’s Speech) . O’Doherty distrusts Catholic memories of a past life of widespread pious observance. Towards the end he notes that “…the Irish had always seen through their own charade”.By Malachi O’Doherty

Gay Byrne got a recent unwelcome reminder of his place in history. He read a letter on his Sunday afternoon Lyric FM programme from a student who was preparing a master’s thesis about him. The student said in a letter that she would like to communicate with him about the dark days in Ireland and the role of his broadcasts in signalling the changes in Irish culture.

Gay was miffed. He said that the ‘dark days’ had not been as miserable as the student assumed.

There had been bad times and good times, and he had enjoyed himself. He obviously didn’t fancy being seen as the undertaker at the funeral of Catholic Ireland.

And if history was to record that Ireland’s century of Catholicism had been a dark and awful time, well Gay didn’t wish to concur or take any credit for bringing it to an end.

Yet, what was the student to do? Practically every book on the secularising trend in modern Ireland mentions Gay Byrne and the Late Late Show as signalling important milestones along the way.

Read Mary Kenny’s Goodbye to Catholic Ireland and you see how Gay Byrne was always at hand, like the priest at the ceremony, when old Ireland and new Ireland ere chosing to go separate ways.

There was that Late Late in which a woman revealed that she may, for all she remembered, have been naked with her husband on their wedding night. The context for the woman’s revelation had been a game of Mr and Mrs. She had been asked what colour of nightie she wore. Mary Kenny recounts the furious reaction of the Bishop of Clonfert as evidence of the closer cultural climate of the time, but she is mistaken.

The incident, far from representing the more censorious culture of the time, actually demonstrates that the ordinary people were more liberal than their bishops.

The question on the show was perhaps devised by someone who naively presumed that a bride always wore a nightie, but more plausibly it was thought up by someone who knew the mischief he was making.

The audience laughed and the show proceeded without any sense of an historic fault line having been crossed. So, if anyone was to be taken as representative of the mood of Ireland then, surely it was that studio audience and not the Bishop of Clonfert?

And it had always been like that, that when Ireland exposed itself as obsessively religious and puritanical, an alternative reading of circumstances was always available to us.

When Stephen Daedalus is agonising over the state of his soul after a scalding from The Preacher in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, there are others close by who know exactly what is going on.

“I suppose he rubbed it into you well.

– You bet he did. He put us all into a blue funk.

– That’s what you fellows want.”

What if Ireland was not really as religious as we remember it. The student writing to Gay Byrne stands for those of us who have inherited the easily accepted account of our past as a transition from a censorious religious culture to a more modern and secular one, but wasn’t Gay right to say that as he remembers it, it was never just as simple as that?

The recent history of Ireland recounts how the church had a powerful influence over government. The stories retold are of Archbishop McQuade’s interference in the Mother and Child Bill, Hubert Butler losing his job for offending the Papal Nuncio, De Valera dreaming of comely maidens. And the figures for regular Mass attendance were massive. It would seem to be a difficult to make the case now, that Ireland was not really very religious at all.

John Whyte wrestled briefly with this question when he was writing Church and State in Modern Ireland back in 1971. On the one hand there was clear evidence that the Irish were devout. They exceeded in their behaviour the basic requirements the church made of them. The church asked them to go to Mass once a week; many went every day. The church asked them to go to confession and communion once a year; many went every week. On the other hand, there was also evidence that the Irish were not particularly keen on religion. When they emigrated, many give up their regular religious observance. It can’t have been important to them personally, then. If devotion was a personal support through life, you would expect the lonely emigrant to express it more ardently when more in need of that support. Instead, the emigrant tended to let committment slide, and this was such a cliche of Irish life that our teachers perpetually warned us about the danger of losing the faith in London, where people didn’t even know their next door neighbours and young women had no restraint at all..

Whyte made a simple personal choice between the two alternative versions of Irish religiosity, as committed and enthusiastic or as weak and expendable. He decided to proceed with his book on the understanding that the Irish religious conviction was widespread, deep and strong. Hr could see that there was a puzzle in front of him but he did not solve it; he merely opted for one solution over another.

If he was now assessing the depth of devotion of the Catholics of his day he would have to account for why many of them have since lightly dispensed with their sense of religious obligation.

Fall out with a lover and you pine with a broken heart and take years to recover, but falling out with God seems relatively easy to get over.

If we were as religious as we thought we were, how come we suffered no particular cultural and moral trauma when religion went into decline, when the seminaries closed, the priests aged and the Christian Brothers and nuns mostly left and got married?

Maybe we weren’t very religious at all.

Yes, we went to Mass, more often even than we needed to. That isn’t as puzzling as Whyte found it. People did not take their guidance on how often to observe the sacraments from the strict code of Canon Law; they took it from the neighbours and the parish. He was wrong to conclude that the difference between practice and the literal minimum requirement of the church demonstrated a devout culture. People were not actually doing much more than was expected of them, if that expectation is traced to the active church and not to the church commandments.

The influence of the church has been reckoned by different authorities to have been both morally enriching and morally enfeebling.

Paul Blanchard, in The Irish and Catholic Power (1954) argued that the church had turned the Irish into moral infants with no clear sense of right and wrong. He compares the behaviour of Southern Catholics and Northern Protestants by looking at what proportions returned the 3D glasses they were given in the cinema. Southerners tended to take the glasses home with them but Northerners dutifully returned them as asked.

There is a world of difference between Whyte’s vision of the devout Irish who seek to give more than their church asks of them and Blanchard’s moral infants. So there is no single agreed coherent version of the religious Irish, and some versions contradict each other.

Blanchard’s conclusion was the the Irish catholics were not meaningfully devout or moral at all but had allowed the responsibilities of conscience to be appropriated by the Catholic church.

Yet even when Blanchard describes the presumption of the church to interfere in our moral conduct, he includes that other voice in the story too, the people in the sidelines mocking, refusing to take the church seriously.

The Rev J. McCarthy of Maynooth had written in an article in 1949 claiming that tampons could ‘easily be a grave source of temptation, especially to those who have strong physical desires “.

Certainly that is as glorious an example as one could hope for of the church prying into the private intimate affairs of lay Catholics and ordinary people. But Blanchard goes on, “the priestly ruling on the subject broke down, after a great deal of subdued laughter.”

He can’t have it both ways, that the Irish were dominated by a church which stripped them of all moral responsibility by dictating absurd rules to them and also that the Irish were perfectly capable of seeing through looney bishops and making up their own minds about private sexual morality.

The church’s slender hold on the people was indicated by the huge drop out rate, even then, from the seminaries. Most orders lost a third of recruits, probably because they were recuiting them too young. They believed in ‘bending the sapling’ while it was yuoung, but their own experience showed them that this didn’t work.

There was certainly an extensive culture in Ireland of observing religious forms, but was it a culture of devotion?

In the 1960s a city parish church in Ireland could expect to be filled with men attending the Sodality. Most today wouldn’t know what a Sodality is. So something has changed. Fewer Irish people are going to church and of those that are, few are taking it as seriously as their parents did.

We lived in a society, very recently, in which practically everyone you met affirmed your own simple religious view of the world. Your workmates went to the Sodality; your boss went to Lourdes once a year and everyone had a St Christoper medal hanging from the rearview mirror if they could afford a car. But does that mean that we were devout or just that we were conformist and dull?

There were times and occasions of heady religious devotion, notably around the visit of Pope John Paul II. But what did they mean? A quarter of the population rallied to hear John Paul but considerably fewer took his message seriously. He didn’t end the IRA campaign when he pleaded on his knees for the killing to stop and he didn’t reverse the spreading acceptance of contraception.

Had he explained to us his opposition to contraception, in the terms in which he had written it down in the 1940s, we would have laughed at him too. He had said that interupting the intimacy of sex to put on a conndom broke the flow and was particularly ennervating for the woman. If he had known about the struggles men have had with hook and eye bra fasteners, he might have objected to them on the same grounds.

The Irish had been dazzled by John Paul because they thought briefly that he was a Pope appropriate to the changing times. Hell was no longer mentioned and the Pope was a sexy man. The Irish were on for that; the Pope wasn’t. He thought that contraception and masturbation were intrinsic evils and that a man should not look on his wife with lust in his heart.

The Irish would probably turn out in big numbers for Benedict because everybody loves a spectacle, but it would no more prove they were good Catholics than the turnout for the Queen’s Jubilee proved that her Church of England was thriving.

If the Irish had been a devoutly religious people, then that should have been reflected in popular art and literature. It wasn’t. Instead we have a history of church-driven assaults on culture. What does that say? It says that the cultural activities of ordinary people and of the more sophisticated reader and viewer were invariably at odds with the church’s requirements of us.

Genuinely devout cultures like those of India and Pakistan throw up artists who excel in the expression of religious devotion. The Hindu culture produced, for instance, Rabindranath Tagore, whose devotional poetry moved Yeats. Muslim culture celebrates the music of Nasrat Fateh Ali Kahn and the songs of the mystic Rumi. Can you imagine Westlife singing the songs of St John of The Cross?

The works of these artists are exultant celebrations of the love of God, incorporated into popular culture and globally acknowledged as fine art.

Where is the Irish equivalent?

One devout poet comes to mind and that is Paul Durcan. But Paul is subversive.

In his poem To Our Friends in Brazil, he eulogises Father Patrick O’Brien of Mayo as an authentically holy person, but also as a man whose religion has survived the church rather than been fostered by it.

Kavanagh?

In his poem, Lough Derg, Kavanagh counts himself among the genuinely devout and sneers at the mass of pilgrims who are not. He was a pharisee.

Whenever an Irish writer depicted a priest, it was always from the humanistic perspective which either pitied him for his misfortune( The Sisters, Joyce) or admired his uncharacteristic wisdom (My Oedipus Complex, O’Connor). It is hard to think of a single short story, novel, play which empathises with the priest as the devotee of God or treats of religious devotion as an adequate response to human circumstance.

The easy way to remember the secularisation of Ireland is to attribute it to the media and its master, Gay Byrne, or to the sex scandals.

In truth, the Irish had always seen through their own charade. We had a culture of churchgoing and we had a wry assessment of the whole thing.

So when Gay Byrne bridles at the thought that history remembers him for having officiated at the demise of a dark and oppressive religious culture in Ireland, perhaps he has a point.

The people back then were not as proccupied with God as an easy celebration of our contrasting modern ways implies. We may have been in hock to the church, but we were no more religious, at heart, then than we are now.

  • David

    Sorry, I got bored and stopped reading after a few lines.

    Even Paisley doesn’t seem to believe the priest-ridden state line any more…

  • Aislingeach

    Sometimes it it hardest to see what is closest.

    From across the ocean it has long been obvious that Ireland was culturally Catholic–it was a marker, a way of being Irish; important, but not serious and certainly not intrinsic. It fit with the conservative ways of a rural economy and traditional life, but didn’t adjust well to the changes of the late 20th century.

  • Alan

    Some are still at it.

    The most recent edition of an Irish Music magazine has an appreciation of a song about Michael Davitt. It states that Davitt was educated ( in England ) through offices of the Wesleyan church. For some reason, the author finds it necessary to put into parenthesis that “the local chapel was at that time under construction.”

    Why?

  • Henry94

    Fall out with a lover and you pine with a broken heart and take years to recover, but falling out with God seems relatively easy to get over.

    But you know God will always take you back.

  • John East Belfast

    I suppose a piece like this appeals to me because it reinforcs what I already believed but that does not make it any less correct.

    Aislingeach

    “From across the ocean it has long been obvious that Ireland was culturally Catholic–it was a marker, a way of being Irish;”

    Correct – Catholic and Galeic is how post 21 Free State defined itself.

    Anglo Irish and Northern Planter just had to fit in or get out.

    That over arching Gaelic & Catholic culture helped to cement Partition by hardening Northern Protestant attitudes towards the Republic.

  • dalek

    I often disagree with Malachi but thats a good one IMHO ! As someone who for legal purposes is percieved to be of a catholic community background and someone with my eyes open I think he hits a few nails on the head!!

    it is a provocative and thoughtful piece of writing.

    There is a lot of truth in it from where I am standing and I read it all rather than scanning it so it must have been good!!

  • Aislingeach

    John East Belfast–

    The “Catholic as Irish” was true long before partition (although that could have changed several times and improved the whole history). There was a similar “Protestant as British” mentality in the North, with a similar “fit in or get out” (or stay down) attitude.
    Both sides were short-sighted and contributed to the mess. Let’s not do a “which was worse” bit.

  • John East Belfast

    Aislingeach

    I know the point you are making with the “Catholic Ireland for a Catholic Nation” v the “Protestant Parliament for the Protestant People” and which came first or whatever.

    However although the matter does not have much bearing on the Pro Union Unionists and the Pro Independence Irish however there are solutions to be found by addressing these issues for the unioists who are more anti Irish than Pro British and for those “nationalists” who’s British discomfort lay primarily with the administration of the Northern Irish State.

    If either ‘side’ can tackle these potentially entrenched but possibly flexible voters then that is a strategy for each.

    In addition it is ‘conventional wisdom’ that NI was a cold house for unionists but everyone needs reminded that the southern state was equally chilling for Irish Protestant unionists

  • iano

    Was there a Late Late in which a woman revealed that she may, for all she remembered, have been naked with her husband on their wedding night?

    Or is it like De Valera’s Maidesn dancing at the crossroads a myth for people to have a go at those they do not like?

  • George

    It’s John Charles McQuaid not McQuade.

    This type of stuff comes up a lot. The only answer I can come up with is that the Catholic Church in Ireland was trying to exert control rather than exert moral authority.

    It was never bothered about enlightenment.

    It had total control for centuries, including under British rule as too they were more than happy to have the priests wield the conservative, anti-communist, and anti-revolutionary rod.

    The Church’s power was solely based on control and had been on the wane for over a century and by the mid-nineties it had virtually no control.

    All that was left was an empty facade, behind which all structures had been hollowed out over the previous decades by things such as the Irish Constitution (yes Dev’s constitution), the actions of the Supreme Court, state television (yes Gay, you too), the nation’s obsession with education etc.

    Almost everyone who grew up and lived in the Republic knew it was hollow and were just waiting for it crumble. The surprise is that it took so long for the reality to catch up with the impression.

  • Niall

    The Irish are probably one of the most pragmatic populations in the world – churchgoing was a practical assertion of community, for most people devoid of any sense of spirituality.

    As a teenager in the 90s I’d go to Mass, as did nearly everybody in my town, but it was a weekly occurrence for the priest to stop mass to persuade the large crowd, mostly men (of all ages), to actually step into the church and fill up the pews near the altar. There was always a large group hanging around the back and even outside when the weather was good having a chat about the week’s events. This wasn’t particularly frowned upon, except by some of the old biddies who’d go to Mass every day – once you turned up you had done what was expected of you. Churchgoing was a social rite, not a spiritual one.

    You have to remember that in communities the only place where everybody in a parish came together was under a church-roof. The very physical act of coming together in a big room was to give you a tangible sense of where you belonged.

    Even nowadays, though church attendance has plummeted, most people still get married in the church even though they haven’t been there on a Sunday since they were in school. It’s to do with ‘tradition’ and pleasing the parents, even though the parents themselves had no particular devotion other than keeping up appearances.

    It wasn’t a case of religious observance or completely due to being conformist and dull (though there was plenty of this as well), but it was the only communal coming together that was available.

  • What do you know? My darling is a dalek.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    An interesting piece by Malachi. Much of what he says feels correct.

    There is an important issue to remember when dealing with the relationship between the Catholic church and its Irish flock. The Catholics of Ireland was, until partial independence in 1921, a national majority that was quite divorced from the state in which they lived. At various points in the previous centuries, freedom of political expression and organisation, of assembly and indeed of religious choice, had been restricted, often in draconian fashion.

    It’s a bit like what’s happening in countries across the Middle East today, where it appears that a radical version of Islam is gaining ground, but that probably isn’t what’s happening at all. The reality is that Egypt, Saudi, Jordan, Iraq etc are, like Iran before them, governed by regimes as oppressive as any British regime in Ireland, and this creates great swathes of anger, resentment and desire for change among the population. However, almost all avenues towards political influence are banned – public meetings, political organisation, rival parties, meaningful elections etc. The only place left to go, where people can meet and discuss the issues of the day, and gain access to some kind of influence, is as the Mosque.

    Similarly, the Catholic church played a similar role in Ireland in the past. And just as western commentators today are wildly misreading what they see as the rise of “Islamification” of the Middle East, so too did their predecessors mistake the Irish people’s use of the Catholic church as being driven by religious fervour. It isn’t, and it wasn’t.

    In Ireland, the Catholic church provided the only meaningful social infrastructure and positions of influence to which Catholics had ready access. Wofle Tone understood this, when he argued that the surest way to destroy the power of the Catholic church in Ireland was to give the people of Ireland a sovereign state – there would then be no further need to turn to the Catholic church for any reasons other than the purely spiritual.

    If only Ireland’s Protestant population could only see that the Catholics aren’t really all that Catholic at all….

  • George

    Billy Pilgrim,
    I would agree with you in part but I think you are underestimating the extent to which much of the Irish Catholic hierarchy was actively involved in helping keep a lid on what you call the “great swathes of anger, resentment and desire for change among the population.”

    True, many Christian Brothers schools helped foment revolution as evidenced by the amount of former CBS boys involved in 1916 and the Capuchin Fathers provided religious sustenance so to speak.

    But the Church leadership condemned it outright and very vew priests spoke out in its support.

    In the Civil War, anti-treaty forces were refused the sacraments.

    The Church wanted to maintain the power it had ammassed since the Act of Union. The Free State was the best vehicle for this aim.

    The role of which you speak eroded during the 19th Century as the Church was handed control of health and education by the British and was so much part of the establishment that it was in a position to embark on a massive churchbuilding programme.

  • Aaron McDaid

    In the 80’s and early 90’s as a child in Donegal, my mum forced all our family to say a full rosary together on our knees every evening – until a rebellious atheist teenager (me) forced an end to it.

    I think it was only really in the 90’s that people realised the future was going to be secular, but that didn’t mean that Ireland was, or is now, 100% secular as a state and society.

    On another note, there is a very clear distinction between males and females throughout all my extended families, with females being more likely to be religious. Is this the norm? Is it an Irish thing?

    PS: By ‘secular’ I don’t mean anti-religious, I just mean the state and society in general respects privacy of religion and freedom of religion. Apologies if ‘secular’ is the wrong word, you know what I mean.

  • Mario el argentino

    This is a great piece. MO continues to be one of NI’s best writers/reporters.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    George

    I agree with with virtually everything you have said. When I talked about the Catholic church in Ireland as providing access to a social infrastructure or some sort of influence to Catholics alienated from the state, I didn’t mean to suggest that this means the church was some sort of outlet for radicalism. It definitely was not. But it was virtually the only organisation of any significance open to most Irish Catholics.

    What it was, was a sort of state within a state – and the only one in which Catholics had a real chance to play a meaningful role.

    “I would agree with you in part but I think you are underestimating the extent to which much of the Irish Catholic hierarchy was actively involved in helping keep a lid on what you call the “great swathes of anger, resentment and desire for change among the population.”

    I don’t underestimate it at all – perhaps I should’ve been clearer. Of course the Catholic church wasn’t a force for radicalism. If anything, it was a safety valve protecting the establishment from radicalism. You only need to look at the response of the church to things like the Parnell split, the Gaelic League, the foundation of the GAA, the Land War, the 1913 Lockout, the Easter Rising and so on to realise how ultra-conservative it was.

    Indeed the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the lifelong Home Ruler Cardinal Michael Logue, threw his weight behind partition, as soon as he was reassured that the Catholic church’s control of education was guaranteed.

    “The role of which you speak eroded during the 19th Century as the Church was handed control of health and education by the British and was so much part of the establishment that it was in a position to embark on a massive churchbuilding programme.”

    I wouldn’t necessarily agree that the role of the church was eroded as a result of its entry into the establishment. You refer to the church-building programme – my own local chapel, the National Cathedral in Armagh, was built in this period. Far from the church’s position being eroded by post-Penal Laws gentrification, thousands of impoverished peasants spent years either side of the Great Famine lugging huge slabs of granite up a steep hill – for free, and for the greater glory of the church. These were not radical people. They were people who understood issues of power only in a very basic way – and they could see that the only way “the likes of them” could face the landowners and professionals of the establishment, was by wearing the robes of the church.

  • Niall

    The early 90s was when the figures for churchgoing in the Republic began to nosedive. This coincides with the largest number of people ever in the State being in third-level education.

    Previous generations may not have been any more devout than today’s in a spiritual sense, but it wasn’t till Irish society became educated that it had the confidence to reject the social custom of going to church.

  • The Dubliner

    “A quarter of the population rallied to hear John Paul but considerably fewer took his message seriously.” – Malachi O’Doherty

    As a 14-year-old Jewish observer in The Phoenix Park in 1979, it was the Pope’s celebrity and not “his message” that drew me there. Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis didn’t extend to sharing their religion. I think you’re right to see religion as a culture for most and as a faith for a few. Most people, of course, are not Christian at all in that they do not live by biblical morality but by practicable expediency and evolutionary dynamics.

    There is a tendency toward malevolent hysteria in appraising the role of the Catholic Church in Irish society. They overlook the historical role of the church in providing basic social services such hospitals, schools, community centres, etc, that they state was unable to provide due to financial constraints. That revisionist perspective is probably a mix of anti-nationalist politics and those self-serving evolutionary dynamics.

    People don’t want to acknowledge, however, the correlation between the breakdown of that cultural morality and the dramatic increase in crime that came with it. Growing up on Dublin’s North Circular Road, I recall that people in the community (and it was a community back then) left their front door key in the door to allow their neighbours to pop in. No one locked their car doors or put chains on bicycles – and the intruder alarm business was purely for commercial users. Any serious crime (such as a murder) would hold the headlines for weeks. Now murders are so common that you’ll find them on the inner pages. The keys have long vanished from the front doors and every house has an intruder alarm, Chubb locks on the windows, and some even have CCTV and bars on the windows.

    On the other hand, we look at all the wealth in our affluent society now and we falsely assume that is the product of our media-led attacks on the Catholic church – that we are better off now so all that went before must have been some form of evil. We don’t, of course, see that the improvements in society are the result of economic forces and have nothing whatsoever to do with attacks on faith. But then again, if all that those media harlots have to show for their attacks is an increase in crime and sexual diseases, then their vitriol wasn’t a helpful contribution, was it?

    I don’t attribute all that to the demise of morality (even if it was in the form of shared cultural values such as respect for other people’s property), as much of it was a result of drugs (and the addicts stealing to get the money for them) and other influences. Still, in terms of the politics (and at the risk of whataboutery), I never saw a catholic priest giving the number of a house where a protestant lived to a loyalist mob (hello, Paisley) nor attacking other faiths in the despicable sectarian manner that the majority religion of the northern statelet engaged in. That kind of ‘religion’ we can all do without.

  • acatag

    John East belfast, i hope you now accept that the surrender today of the bigot in chief means all is finished for youse. I will happily pay your fare to stranraer if you supply me with your deatails. preffered day of travel etc. A great day for us fenians .

  • John East Belfast

    acatag

    Somehow I cant see me surrendering to an illiterate gobshite like you.

    Paisley is only completing what we embarked on 10 years ago.

    ie neutralise militant irish republicanism and make NI work by bringing political stability and economic prosperity.

    The game plan was never any more complicated than that and now the show is back on the road the decision is to be left to our children and grandchildren.

  • acatag

    so he couldnt stomach it in 74 0r since but now the numbers are changing rapido even the old get must change his tune. Get out of our country! No concessions whatever any more.

  • acatag

    BTW. This “plan” included taking no part in the negotiations for the GFA? You really are bit daft jeb.

  • John East Belfast

    acateg

    I suppose I will have to spell it out for you then.

    I am not in the DUP or a supporter thereof – indeed I am a Pro Agreement Ulster Unionist and yes this has always been the bigger picture.

    That it would have ended up with Paisley in the driving seat was not what we had in mind but the overall securing of the consent principal and the full politicising of Irish Republicanism was.

    Therefore welcome to Northern Ireland sunshine – I hope you will also be supporting your football team against Sweden on Wednesday night

  • John East Belfast

    acatag also known as JuliusCaesar & STATHEAD

    You really are a saddoe.

    Dont have the balls to come under your former name.

    Forget about buying my boat fare – why dont you put your money where your mouth is and take that wager I give you on the 300 + Demographics thread.

    You have zero credibility mate.

  • acatag

    never saw the wager. Looking it up right now DILUTED ORANGE. Mr credibility himself.

  • acatag

    OOP SVERIGE

  • Greenflag

    Billy , ??????

    Generally I can agree with your points but not sure where you are going with this quote below . I’ve added on the ‘equivalents’

    ‘If only Ireland’s Protestant population could only see that the Catholics aren’t really all that Catholic at all….’

    or perhaps

    ‘If only Ireland’s Catholic population could only see that the Protestants aren’t really all that Protestant at all….’

    If only Ireland’s Islamic population could only see that Ireland’s Jewish population are’t really all that Jewish at all .

    If only Ireland’s Jewish population could only see that Ireland’s Islamic population are’t really all that Islamic at all .

    The late Isaac Asimov wrote a marvellous book of essays entitled ‘The Roving Mind’ and in one of the essays he writes on the American fear of the Godless Soviets during the cold war and how anybody who doesn’t believe in God can’t be trusted. He then deduces logically that this should mean that Northern Irish Catholics and Northern Irish Protestants should be absolute bosom buddies just like Iraqi Muslims and Iranian Muslims not to mention Evangelical White American Baptists and African American Baptists .

    It would appear that ‘religion’ is often used as a cover for what is ultimately one particular group/tribe/nation/polity/religion striving to attain domination over others . Never mind what it says in the Bible /Talmud/Koran etc etc . Politicians on the evangelical right in the USA will be heard demanding that the 10 commandments should be ‘posted’ in public school buildings etc .

    But you never ever hear them asking for Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount being given equal poster time !