Is the Irish Catholic Church Starting to Listen?

As the Irish Catholic Church has stumbled through the aftermath of the sexual abuse scandals, one of the major complaints has been that the hierarchy has not and will not listen to the people in the pews.

In media coverage of Vatican attempts to manage the scandals, or of meetings of victims and survivors with clerics, victims/survivors say that they are not satisfied with the way the representatives of the Church have responded to them.

To take one example, after talks between the Pope and Irish Bishops in Rome last February, Andrew Madden, the first person in Ireland to publicly file a lawsuit against the church, simply said that survivors had been completely ignored. Similarly, some victims/survivors, like Colm O’Gorman, were outraged by the content of the Pope’s Pastoral Letter to the Catholic Church in Ireland.

I think that this lack of listening – whether perceived or real – has been behind the actions of people like Jennifer Sleeman, who called for a one-day boycott of mass across Ireland; or the people who organised the baby shoe protest at Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral last year. If you feel like the ‘leaders’ of your Church won’t listen to you, you have to take desperate measures.

The island of Ireland is currently experiencing an ‘Apostolic Visitation’, perceived by some as the Vatican’s genuine attempt to start seriously addressing the breakdown in the Irish Catholic Church, and seen by others as a cynical public relations exercise.

The Apostolic Visitors were in Northern Ireland late last month, and in the media coverage of that event I was struck by what was, for me at least, the first time I heard a victim/survivor comment favourably on a meeting with a high ranking cleric. As reported on Global Gateway:

The victims had initially believed the event was just for show, but as they emerged from Dromantine Retreat Centre after the meeting, they said their voices were finally being heard after all this time.

One of the victims Margaret McGuckin who experienced abuse at the Nazareth Sisters orphanage in Belfast said: “We went in a bit doubtful, but we do know that we had his ear. It’s important we are being listened to because we were never listened to all our lives. That is another abuse in our lives, it’s like being shunned, rejected all over again – made fun of and ridiculed. Now we’ve had enough of that.”
“We told him that we really needed someone that we could trust, someone that was really going to deliver for us,” she added.

I think it’s significant that some of these victims/survivors at least felt that they were listened to this time. That’s a small but significant improvement in communication, though we will have to wait and see if this ‘listening’  has a more far-reaching impact on the high-ranking clergy or even the Pope.

In addition to the Apostolic Visition, on 2 February the Diocese of Down and Connor began an official ‘Listening Process,’ with a Commissioning Service in the Good Shepherd Church, Belfast, for laypeople who have been trained to facilitate it. The initiative was launched with a letter from Bishop Noel Treanor, who said:

The purpose of this Listening Process is to give a voice to the People of God – parishioners, clergy, religious and those who live the monastic life –  in regard to the ways  in which we celebrate, pray and live the Christian faith. As we address the need to renew our response to the Word of God in the life of the Church and in society, it is vital that parishioners have an opportunity to express their views and be heard.

Though the letter doesn’t specifically mention the scandals, it includes a line that says:

I also invite all whose experience has caused them to become angry or disaffected with the Church to consider taking part in the process.

The Listening Process is intended to culminate with a Diocesan Congress at Pentecost 2013, where a ‘roadmap for the future’ and ‘pastoral priorities’ will be set out.

The Diocese of Down and Connor has published a full list of the dates and locations where the Listening Sessions will take place.

Veritas, a Catholic blogger from Co. Antrim, offers this evaluation of the Listening Process:

I believe there will be, broadly speaking, three types of response to this unprecedented invitation:

(1) Those with keen expectation and reasonable level of hope that they will be listened to and their suggestions/ criticisms/ grievances taken seriously.

(2) Those that have less hope that things will change any way quickly but who think it’s a worthwhile venture nonetheless.

(3) Those that, whether because of hurt, indifference, lack or loss of trust, or total cynicism will decide it’s not for them, with one friend viewing it as a PR exercise, a last ditch attempt by the church to slam on the brakes.

I would add a fourth response:

(4) Those that think that the exercise is slightly more than a PR exercise, but think that it is a rather meaningless ‘consultation’ exercise – somewhat akin to Northern Ireland’s seemingly now defunct Consultation on Dealing with the Past. Ideas will be taken onboard (maybe even written up in a Report!), but then ignored by the people with the real power to change something.

  • slappymcgroundout

    Please don’t ask us to believe that some are sincere. Read up on Bernard Law. Was in charge of the Boston diocese and resigned. Now he works at the Vatican. I didn’t know that promotion was the appropriate response to massive coverup of child sexual abuse, but I suppose that one learns something new everyday.

    Lastly:

    “I think it’s significant that some of these victims/survivors at least felt that they were listened to this time.”

    If some aren’t sincere then the exercise is akin to fraud. Sure, some might feel better, but it is still fraud.

    Almost forgot, but for how bad it is, some are trying to make JPII a saint. Here’s the “saintly” JPII:

    ROME, May 27 — Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who was forced to resign as leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston after a long and painful sexual abuse scandal involving clergy members, was chosen by Pope John Paul II on Thursday to head a basilica in Rome.

    A statement released in the Vatican’s daily bulletin announced that Cardinal Law, who resigned in 2002, would become the archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, a church in a downtown neighborhood of Rome that is under direct Vatican jurisdiction.

    His new job duties?

    ‘He will be in charge of the administration of the priests and anything related to the basilica…

    So, learned two new things. New definition of “saint”.

    Almost forgot, but to be clear on why he resigned:

    The resignation came after nearly a year of revelations that the cardinal and archdiocesan officials that he supervised had repeatedly allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to remain in the ministry.

    And so they made him responsible for yet more priests. Sackcloth and ashes must not be in fashion these days.

  • Greenflag

    Slappy got it right this time 😉

    ‘If you feel like the ‘leaders’ of your Church won’t listen to you, you have to take desperate measures.’

    No you don’t . All you have to do is stop attending the Church and encourage your neighbours to do likewise and above all don’t give them any money . A Bavarian priest has been charged with the eh ‘removal’ of one million euro from parishoner’s donations . So it’s not just the Irish branch of this multi national business corporation that’s grabbing any easy loot that’s going .

    Those of a spiritual and or religious persuasion will find many other line to God institutions out there who will only be too happy to welcome into their fold -or bill folds as the case may be with the ‘prosperity ‘orientated churches of American inspiration who believe that just like the business of America is business then it’s only right and nachural that the heaven magician purveyors should be likewise orientated:(

    ‘Never mind what they say just watch what they do ‘ and always remember that it’s your money that’s keeping these clerics in business .

    Like the ‘listening ‘ banks of the 1980’s in the UK the RC Church won’t take too long to become deaf mutes again 🙁

  • Gf, how does your advice assist the victims? The Hierarchy aren’t the only folks who knew what was going on. Don’t members have responsibilities too, especially those who knew or had suspicions and were in a position to come to the aid of victims?

  • pippakin

    I have seen nothing to suggest that the RCC in Ireland or the Vatican are either listening to the victims and their congregations, or doing anything positive to make sure that if abuse happen again it will be reported to the police before it is reported to the Cardinal here or the Vatican. The visitation looks like nothing more than a PR exercise.

  • Rory Carr

    While we must be heartened by the positive report of Margaret McGuckin, a survivor of Nazareth Lodge, I cannot but entertain the perhaps unworthy thought that, while it might be relatively less painful for the hierarchy to be more frank in its admissions of abuse that was largely physical and psychological where it has been perpetrated by nuns (although I understand that instances of sexual abuse have also been alleged at Nazareth House), we may find that the hierarchy will have great difficulty in exercising a similar candour in regard to sexual abuse of minors by members of the priesthood.

    Such different treatment cannot be accounted for simply as sexist, although it is certainly that (which is a great pity for the Church has not always been sexist), but rather that of the male clergy’s failure to come to terms with understanding the great potency of the human sexual urge and how to harness it appropriately both for procreation and for pleasure. God knows it is a difficult enough burden for the male laity and not all manage it well, but for the priest, sworn to celibacy and spiritually bound to chastity, it must be nigh impossible and hardly surprising that so many have failed.

    Yet, for all the difficulties that their enforced celibacy has placed upon them, it can be no excuse. Married men have to deal with the burgeoning sexuality of their own, or their partner’s, children and their unconcious attempts at different stages of their young lives at sexual precocity but most find the innate understanding of how to deal with it appropriately with quiet firmness and love. Those who do not and take advantage of a child’s innocence act against the nature of their own conscience and later blame the child for seducing them. Well it simply won’t wash for those and it won’t wash for the clergy either. Whatever distortion of impulse might have been dictated by the rigours of celibacy they cannot be deemed so strong as to deaden the internal drumbeat of conscience.

    What is called for is confession, repentance and the making of amends and these are concepts with which the priesthood are well familiar. They should be, they have been perpetually urging them upon their own congregations.

  • pippakin

    Physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children is not about love it is about power. The children had no one to turn to and no where to run for help. Confession and ‘repenting’ is something many abusive priests were doing on a regular basis.

  • Rory Carr

    Physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children is not about love it is about power.

    I do trust, Pippakin, that you were not suggesting that I had considered otherwise.

    There is no evidence that abusing priests have engaged in sincere confession and repentance, much less making amends to their victims and it is to them that it is owed. In any case you may be confusing the Catholic religious rite of Confession (or the Sacrament of Penance to give it its church name) with what I intend to be a process of proper atonement to victims.

  • granni trixie

    Where the ‘listening’ was happening was part of the Good Shephard complex where I lived in the Sacred Heart Home.
    I have long given up on the Church so did not attend but even the thought of them going through the motions makes me weary.

  • pippakin

    Rory Carr

    Its the idea of confession and repentance. I don’t believe confession and repentance is possible since in each case of sexual abuse the perpetrator was not doing something he hated or regretted. He was in every case indulging his own sexuality.

    It appears there had been the most extraordinary situation in the RCC where a heterosexual or homosexual priest would be sacked and sent off in disgrace if they were caught being heterosexual or homosexual, meanwhile the paedophile priest repented his sins and was packed off to an unsuspecting community..It may be that some victims will feel better knowing that the criminals are no longer being protected but by no means all.

    Imo the problem is not that there were paedophile priests, there are paedophiles in every profession. The Church covered up the abuse and allowed it to continue and that is the problem. As Slappy points out above there is no real sign of improvement in the Church Hierarchy .

  • Nunoftheabove

    Re. “confession and repentance” , let’s be straight here. Neither are anything to do with the victim within Catholicism, still less of any benefit to the victim. Both are entirely a matter (albeit with the role of the priest acting in persona Christi) between the clerical perpetrator and the, as they would have it, Almighty. The victim simply doesn’t come into it, canonically speaking. For all I know a number of them might genuinely be sorry for the vomit-inducing, appalling rapes they undertook; the language they speak though requires only that they apologize to ‘God’ for offending ‘Him’, the objective being a renewal of friendly terms with ‘God’. The idea of any reckoning with the victims is entirely outside the scope of their priorities and requirements as believers and is very very far down any list of priorities. How could it be on their list of priorities, once they’d cleansed themselves of their revolting deeds in accordance with their faith. The only ‘judge’ they recognize and esteem isn’t an earthly one, after all.

    In regard to the technicalities of confessional ‘policy’, the catholic church should be answering some further questions on its handling of its child rape scandal. I find it difficult to believe that they have not given guidance given to priests on the management of the revelation of very obviously criminal matters such as child rape in the confession box; indeed, I have some vague recollection that they admitted that they did so, at least in America – has this been released does anyone know ?

    My understanding is that a priest can go as far as to encourage the penitent to turn himself over to the authorities or to make a statement to the cops or whatever but obviously cannot go further in the interest of confidentiality lest he face automatic excommunication. What guidance was given to them on this and how, if at all, is this monitored within the institution ? What typical guidance is provided to priests on the penance befitting the revelation of a child rape ? Five decades of the rosary and bob’s your uncle ?

  • Greenflag

    @ Rory ,

    ‘What is called for is confession, repentance and the making of amends and these are concepts with which the priesthood are well familiar.’

    And they can have their confession and repentance and make amends but what is called for is lengthy jail sentences for those found guilty of committing these crimes against children .

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘Gf, how does your advice assist the victims?.

    It doesn’t but it’s one way to prevent future generations of children being preyed on by this religious institution .

    ‘ The Hierarchy aren’t the only folks who knew what was going on.’

    True but then as the vast majority of victims were the children of the power and those without influence and pull in Irish Society then ‘Irish society did what it has always done in the past with matters of concern to the Roman Church – it looked the other way ‘

    ‘ Don’t members have responsibilities too, especially those who knew or had suspicions and were in a position to come to the aid of victims?’

    You would be right in thinking that but in small close knit rural communities and in some of the ‘institutions’ in which these crimes were carried on -those who should have come to the aid of the victims found it better to keep silent and hold on to their jobs .

    Hopefully our new more ‘open . Ireland may be different but then when a prospective Taoiseach considers it beneath his dignity to be interviewed in debate with other party leaders then one sees that some old attitudes linger on past their sell by date 🙁

  • joeCanuck

    And they can have their confession and repentance and make amends but what is called for is lengthy jail sentences for those found guilty of committing these crimes against children .

    Absolutely, Greenflag. And that might help the healing process for some of the victims.

  • Gf, those Church members who were Ministers, TDs, Senior Civil Servants and Senior Garda Officers who knew the score and failed to act should also be severely reprimanded.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    If memory serves me right the eh delayed ‘extradition’ process re the criminal Fr Smith did lead to the end of the Reynold’s Government when Labour withdrew their support .

    I won’t argue with you re Ministers , TD,s etc -although I’d go further than severely reprimanded – careers ended at minimum and where possible legal redress for victims against the forementioned so called ‘guardians of the law ‘

  • Rory Carr

    My call for the necessity of confession, repentance and making amends was directed towards what the Church needs require the perpetrators and their facilitators to do but it does not then absolve either Church or State from the responsibility of bringing criminal charges against those same transgressors.

    It is not the victims alone who demand such a calling to account but Irish society as a whole in order that they may begin to have confidence in the willingness of both State and Church to be fully protective of the welfare of all the children of Ireland. There can be no such confidence otherwise.

  • abucs

    “The idea of any reckoning with the victims is entirely outside the scope of their priorities and requirements as believers” …… not true.

  • joeCanuck

    Is it possible for the deaf to hear, the blind to see or the dumb to speak?
    I believe that the perps are but a small minority (hopefully) but the cover up has put all of their clerics under a deep cloud of suspicion. It’s not only the perps who need to be punished but their enablers in the higher hierarchy.

  • gf, have a look at the 1916 Proclamation: “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”

    It seems to be that the Irish state delegated too often the care of its children to the Vatican state with inadequate safeguards.

  • OOPS My apologies for failing to close bold emphasis.

  • Greenflag

    @joecanuck ,

    ‘I believe that the perps are but a small minority (hopefully) but the cover up has put all of their clerics under a deep cloud of suspicion.’

    That’s exactly the situation . The only thing that travels faster than the speed of light is bad news . The RC Church probably because of it’s structure and history seems oblivious of this fact in today’s world . They are not the only ‘institution’ that seems both unable and unwilling to come to terms with a changed ‘information’ environment .

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    Fine words and ideals and who would speak out against them? But words alone are useless without deeds and in the early days of the Irish State the focus was national and economic state survival -having cut the cord of ‘imperial’ care so to speak.

    The Irish RC Church as it ‘progressed’ through the 19th century became very much a Victorian institution and took on all the ‘mores’ and ‘practices ‘ of that bygone age -not unlike some other venerated and now often excoriated institutions on this island.

    To quote Bill Bryson from his ‘History of Private Life ‘

    ‘There can be few more telling facts about life in in 19th century Britain (and Ireland ) than that the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals preceded by 60 years the founding of a similar organization for the protection of children . It’s perhaps no less notable that the first named was made ‘Royal Society for the Prevention of Creuelty to Animals ‘in 1840 -a little more than 15 years after it’s founding . The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children remains to this day ‘regally ‘ unblessed .

  • Gf, one cord of ‘imperial’ care was cut, a second remained – the Vatican – and a third was introduced – the EEC/EU.

  • anne warren

    I agree with so many of the posters.
    I see no firm resolution for amendment and restitution (to the victims and to the general community of believers) in the current attitude/practice of the RC church.
    Only an attempt to save and hold on to what they can.
    The tragedy is compounded in Ireland, North and South, by the entanglement of religion, politics and national allegiances – due to the intransigeance of both sides, particilarly in NI.
    In my view the only option open to the faithful is to walk. Donate no longer to the RC church. Pay no more for its churches and staff. Let it wither on the branch and let us all see where we can go together, politically speaking, without the perfidious input of religion into a sphere where it has no place.

    PS Before I’m flamed! The same views also apply to the Orange Order, Black Preceptory and so on

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘one cord of ‘imperial’ care was cut,’

    Had to be . Would have been better had it been cut peacefully but that was not to be .

    ‘a second remained – the Vatican –’

    The second cord reached the zenith of it’s power over the people from the late 18th century to the middle of the 20th century. During most of that time both the Imperial and Vatican cords worked together for their mutual advantage for the better governance and spiritual well being of the Irish people . Ironically it was during this same period that most Irish lives (North and South ) were lost probably double or treble the number since the ‘great slaughters’ of the 1550 -1700 period in Which Samuel Pepys estimated some 650,000 deaths occured due to war or war induced famines etc

    The third cord you mentioned was chosen by ourselves and indeed by our neighbours -by ourselves in a referendum and by the British in their Parliament .

    Despite the present ‘economic ‘ mess I’ll hold onto my optimism for the EU to eventually get it’s act together in this uncertain world -for now .

    Have to agree with Anne Warren above .

  • Gf, Vatican power is still there as has been epitomised by the deference shown by the Irish political establishment, even at the height of the relatively recent revelations.

    I met a couple from Ferns around the time the Father Fortune broke. I was told that most folks had a good idea what had been going but it seemed that everyone had been waiting for someone else to do something. When the Bishop was forced out he was I understand replaced by someone who reported directly to the Vatican.

    I wonder what would happen if the UK (or indeed Ireland) held a referendum now on continued EU membership.

  • Munsterview

    Nevin : “Gf, those Church members who were Ministers, TDs, Senior Civil Servants and Senior Garda Officers who knew the score and failed to act should also be severely reprimanded….”

    Here is proof that they did. Fr Flannigan+ Boys town + irish visit will throw up some interesting results, this is one I have on my pasteboard.

    http://www.catholic.org/prwire/headline.php?ID=6895

    I have also had several long discussions on the matter with the honorary president of the IRB as his father in his IRB capacity together with other members at home and in the States, organized that trip and the subsequent World Wide publicity to shame Devs and Fianna Fail’s Ireland into action.

  • Munsterview

    Nevin : “…..cherishing all of the children of the nation equally,………”

    Refers in metaphor to all the Irish Citizens and not in any specific way to children per se, and in much the same way as the line ‘ we are children of a Fighting Race do’ in that other National document.

    However it is a mistake commonly made !

  • Reader

    Munsterview: Refers in metaphor to all the Irish Citizens and not in any specific way to children per se
    While I am sure Nevin’s interpretation was wrong, I am not convinced yours is correct. That’s the problem with metaphors.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Nevin

    Munsterview’s quite right; it’s an expression common to nationalisms of many kinds at the time. The pseudo-religious and in some cases overtly religious implication being that the nation is metaphorically (or otherwise) matriarchal/patriarchal towards its ‘child’ citizens, which takes you down the road of the expectation of child-like obedience to ‘the nation’ in return for the gratitude of having the nation and of being privileged enough to be a citizen/subject of that nation. It’s a claim to an insistence on the deference of the nation’s children to the nation and thus, eventually I suppose in some ways, to the state – it’s a problematic formulation from the get-go in some ways in other words, deference to the state (and to the church) being twin-enablers of the child rape cover up.

    The nation is itself therefore an entity decreed by, created by, blessed by and protected by the heavenly father/mother – all popular themes within the wider nationalist project in Ireland at the time as was common with nationalisms of many different kinds elsewhere at the time (and more recently). After all, the proclaiming of the republic is, in its own terms, explicitly being undertaken ”in the name of God [and of the dead generations] from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood” and not just the republic but its ‘cause’ is placed in the protection – not of the citizens or its volunteers – but in the protection of the Most High God, presumably God The Father. Thus, fatherland, motherland etc.

    The freedom to be Irish at the time was for a great many of course almost entirely synonymous with the freedom to be truly catholic and so the imagery being invoked and the language used can’t have appeared other than appropriate to a nationalist catholic audience, or appeared uncontroversial to them at any rate. To the extent that some of the non-catholic Irish God/s appeared to be whistling their tunes in entirely different keys at the time however, one can understand why the assurances about the prospect of equal cherishing and the presumably intended-to-assure references to equal rights may not have persuaded many of the non-catholic flock and the reference to an alien government would have appeared, well, alien. A comparison with the 1803 declaration is interesting though.

  • Rory Carr

    Munsterview is indeed right on his view of the reference to” the children of the nation” in the Constitution for reasons that have already been well articulated by Nunoftheabove.

    Thus it was that the Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz, was so used to addressing his fellow citizens as, “My children” that he began to believe it himself until some of them, like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, decided it was time to grow up

    In recent days we have had Hosni Mubarak telling the Egyptian people how he thinks of them as his sons and daughters (in which case we might think he might be arraigned for child abuse).

    And of course Queen Victoria was often referred to as the Great Mother and this was not a reflection on her own considerable child-bearing abilities.

    Perhaps it might be time for all the people of Ireland to take a lesson from the “children” of Mexico in 1910 and of Egypt today and tell daddy state that they are all grown up now and won’t take any more shit.

  • Greenflag

    @ MV ,

    ‘Here is proof that they did’

    A long time ago MV and long forgotten .

    But back to 2011 where most of us have to live 😉 . Not only did they not listen in Ireland but the RC Church in the USA was not listening to Fr Flanagan either then or even now ..

    I read just now

    ‘ Three priests, a Monsignor and a Catholic school teacher are all facing criminal charges after a Philadelphia grand jury found a pattern of child sexual abuse. Edward Avery, Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero, in addition to parochial school teacher James Brennan are facing rape, indecent sexual assault and other charges in connection with the sexual abuse of boys between 1996 and 2000.

    http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/12827-philadelphia-priests-and-catholic-teacher-arrested-for-sexual-abuse

    And then the eh ‘drugs ‘ linked below

    http://www.wnep.com/wnep-lacka-local-priest-arrested-philly,0,3111648.story

    Not forgetting eh ‘financial ‘ embezzlement linked below

    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local-beat/Nachajski-Priest-Arrested-for-Theft-Forgery-115689859.html

    I used to believe sex crimes , drug running and financial crimes were the prerogatives of the various mafias , gangsters and of course latterly our bankers and politicians . But it seems in an increasingly ‘competitive’ world as we make our descent to the lowest common denominator of the ‘free market’ that even the formerly respected catholic clergy are now muscling in on the ‘drugs , money and sex with minors rackets ?

    It’s a rottten institution MV -despite the presence of many ethical ‘clergy’ .

  • Greenflag

    @ Rory ,

    ‘and tell daddy state that they are all grown up now and won’t take any more shit.’

    A fair point and a moot one and sage if late advice . Alas our ‘daddy ‘ state is so covered in ‘shit ‘ itself -most of it from sticking it’s virtually unregulated banking parts into the orifices of international bond holders, that the children of the ‘nation’ and pardon my crudity for paraphrasing a natural wood and trees metaphor – can’t at this point tell the urea from the urinators 🙁

  • Folks, I knew what the cherish phrase meant – I skimmed through adjacent paragraphs. I was merely pointing out that in the literal sense far too many children were failed by those who knew the score but sat on their hands. I didn’t think I needed to add the literal caveat but it seems I did.

    As an outsider but a critical friend, I’d suggest that there are structural failures within the Catholic Church. I’m more familiar with the Presbyterian system of governance and its limitations but it seems to a have a better check on the abuse of power.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘I wonder what would happen if the UK (or indeed Ireland) held a referendum now on continued EU membership.’

    As 80% of UK trade is with the EU I can’t imagine that the UK would vote to withdraw . But who knows ? Johnny foreigner particular if he or she is Spanish, French or German speaking has always been seen as historically the greater threats to British ‘sovereignty’ even if the latter concept is hardly applicable in today’s globalized world.

    As for Ireland – All I would say at this stage is that there would at least this time be a debate and that the margin voting for membership would probably be reduced from an 80% pro vote to a 55%/60% pro vote . Of course in 2 to three years time if the country is still being gouged out by the ‘bondholders’ and our ‘new ‘ government is perceived to be as gutless and directionless as the previous one -then all bets are off I’d say.

  • Gf, do you have a figure for Norway’s trade with the EU?

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘I’d suggest that there are structural failures within the Catholic Church.’

    Full marks for the obvious -Most see the edifice crumbling both from structural faults and the ‘disappearance ‘ of the previously faithful and much reduced revenue takings ‘

    ‘ I’m more familiar with the Presbyterian system of governance and its limitations but it seems to a have a better check on the abuse of power.’

    I don’t think anybody would disagree with you on that score . If I’m not mistaken Pippakin more generally prescribed the ‘abuse of power’ as being the common factor not only within the RC church but among even the secular institutions that are supposed to provide the eh ‘role ‘models for society – i.e the banking and political sectors to name just a few .

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘Norway is the EU’s 4th most important import partner for trade in goods with €91.85 billion in 2008, after China, USA, and Russia and the 6th export market with €43.58 billion, after the USA, Russia, Switzerland, China and Turkey. Thus, Norway’s trade with the EU shows a surplus of €48.27 billion.

    Exports from the EU to Norway are mainly manufactured products with a share of 81.3% in 2008. Norway’s exports to the EU are concentrated on primary products (share in 2008 was 71% thereof 61.1% on supply of energy), whereas the exports of manufactured products amounted to a share of 14.1% in 2008.

    Norway is not Ireland or the UK – The figures below must be seen in the context of Norway’s huge oil and gas exports and reserves although their ‘oil’ is also on it’s way out even if they made a whole lot better use of it for their people than did the UK .

    The Norway -EU trade relationship is not dissimilar from that of the Australia -China one i.e primary products exported in return for manufactured products and services . Australia exports iron ores , hardwoods , and other minerals in return for Chinese manufactures .Longer term trade and economic advantage is with the .manufacturers and service suppliers as the ‘primary ‘ producers deplete their resources , Norway’s ‘advantage is of course it’s primary exports are oil and gas – For now .

  • Thanks, Gf.

  • joeCanuck

    Agree, Rory. I found it hard to believe my ears when Mubarak called himself the father and the citizens but children. Father knows best. The Egyptians are well rid of him.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The Egyptians are well rid of him.’

    Mubarak was an ‘army ‘ appointee as no doubt will be the new interim president . Those demonstrating for a freer more democratic Egypt have only made a first step . The big question is will there be free and democratic elections and will all political parties be allowed to nominate candidates or will the ‘military ‘ dictate who can and who cannot stand ?

    Sulieman was former top dog in the Egyptian Secret Services so their should be no surprises that he will be just another Mubarak ? Which way if any will the West especially the USA try to spin the succession . The Israelis will fear a ‘democratic ‘ Egypt for they know that the 30 years of peace on the Egyptian border may come to an end and that Gaza could be the flashpoint for a new war .

    Scary times for those in the region or perhaps not given the largely peaceful demonstrations of the Egyptian people these past 3 weeks ? Amazing really that it took all of that for one dictator to finally realize he was done ?

  • granni trixie

    I know that every situation is unique. But I have been pondering over the question of why is it that nonviolent people power has succeeded in this particular case?

    Mobilising on the streets doesnt usually work. Why in this case? What features?

  • pippakin

    granni trixie

    The media has played a huge part, especially Twitter and Facebook at one end and the excellent Al Jazeera at the other.

    The US too had a part, they did not want another Iran where arguably they continued to support the Shah when they should have dumped him. This time the noises from the US, slow at the start, built to the dismissal of Mubarak

    But, it is not really over. It looks like a military coup and if the Egyptians agree with that, fine. If they don’t the trouble may be just beginning.