News Roundup

Brothers to undergo transgender surgery together

Two Irish brothers who identify as females have revealed plans to undergo reassignment surgery together. Now calling themselves Jamie and Chloe, the siblings announced themselves transgender in 2015. They have announced that they will soon be starting a course of oestrogen towards preparing themselves for surgery. Both claim they came out as gay when 14 and 13 respectively and have since concluded that they are in fact transgender.
Read more...

Tusla removes child from ‘too old’ grandparents

The child and family agency Tusla has taken a boy into foster care, having judged his grandparents too old to care for him. The action to remove the boy came despite testimonies from both the child’s doctor and school that his grandparents are capable of looking after him adequately. The grandparents at the centre of the case are in their 60s and have cared for the boy for four years. The grandfather has since appeared on RTE television to describe the trauma he and his wife have experienced since Tusla’s move. “We’re totally and utterly distressed over it because he was our pride and joy,” he said.
Read more...

Human rights body calls for ban on child marriages in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has called for a ban on child marriages as it emerged that 68 children were married on the region in 2014. In a report to the United Nations, the commission argued for an increase in the legal age for marriage to 18. Currently, it is legal to be married in Northern Ireland at 16 with the consent of parents or legal guardians. “The marriage of under 18-year-olds is a live issue in Northern Ireland that needs to be addressed through a change to the law. This issue is a global one as well as a local one,” said chief commissioner Les Allamby.
Read more...

Christians now a minority in England and Wales

Christians in England and Wales are now a minority as those professing no religion continues to grow rapidly. According to a new analysis of census figures, those of no faith have surged from 25% to 48.5% between 2011 and 2014. Meanwhile, those defining themselves as a member of a Christian denomination stands at 43.8%. According to lead researcher Stephen Bullivant, senior lecturer in theology and ethics at St Mary’s Catholic University in Twickenham: “What we’re seeing is an acceleration in the numbers of people not only not practising their faith on a regular basis, but not even ticking the box. The reason for that is the big question in the sociology of religion.”
Read more...

Church of Scotland to allow ministers in same-sex marriages

The Church of Scotland has voted to allow ministers and deacons to enter into same-sex marriages. Commissioners at the Kirk’s General Assembly voted by 339 to 215 to extend and earlier recognition of civil partnerships to full same-sex marriage. The decision has caused deep division within the church, with some describing it as contrary to scripture. “This matter has decimated the Church. Thousands of members and adherents have left the Church, sometimes whole congregations. This has been particularly damaging in the highlands and islands,” said Revd Andrew McGown, of Inverness East Church of Scotland.
Read more...

Catholic schools top Northern Ireland league tables

Catholic schools in Northern Ireland secured the top 11 places in league tables for 2014/15, it has been revealed. The success of Catholic schools was laid out by The Belfast Telegraph which gained the tables as a result of a freedom of information request. The good results have led to a call for the Department of Education to examine what makes Catholic schools such a success story. “They should be asking what is the magic ingredient which is making all the top performing schools in Northern Ireland Catholic schools,” said Sean Rafferty, head of St Louis Grammar in Ballymena in County Antrim. Meanwhile, DUP education spokesman Peter Weir MLA said lessons could be learned from Catholic schools.

Read more...

BBC criticised for assisted suicide drama

The BBC is facing allegations that it is acting as a “cheerleader for assisted suicide” following a long-anticipated episode of the soap Eastenders portrayed a leading character dying by that means. Following the episode, which had seen weeks of publicity around the departure of character Peggy Mitchell, the Care Not Killing group described as “extremely disappointing” the programme-makers portrayal of assisted suicide. Care Not Killing pointed out that this was the seventh pro-assisted suicide programme aired by the BBC, while alternatives like palliative care were virtually ignored.
Read more...

Oklahoma moves to outlaw abortion

In a first for any US state, Oklahoma legislators have passed a bill aimed at outlawing abortion state-wide and make the performance of a termination a criminal offence. The new bill was passed at the Senate 33-12 in the wake of an earlier House vote passed it 59-9. Republican Senator Nathan Dahm, who tabled the bill, said “I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception”, and expressed the hope that the bill would go all the way to the nation’s Supreme Court to undo Roe v Wade, the landmark ruling which legalized abortion across America.
Read more...

Italy experiencing an “apocalyptic” birth decline

Italy’s government has expressed alarm at the country’s rapidly declining birth rate. Describing the decline as “apocalyptic”, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin called for an immediate doubling of child benefits to encourage Italians to have children. “If we carry on as we are and fail to reverse the trend, there will be fewer than 350,000 births a year in 10 years’ time, 40% less than in 2010—an apocalypse,” the minister said. According to one measure, Italy saw just 488,000 births in 2015, the lowest rate since the foundation of the state in 1861.
Read more...

Catholic schools urged to offer set quota of school places to non-Catholics

A new group is calling on Catholic schools to set aside 10% of places for unbaptised children and those of minority faiths in the event of overcrowding. The Faith in Our Schools group, consisting of leading Catholic educationalists and a Senior Counsel, says it fully supports the ethos of Catholic schools but also recognises that communities served by the schools have changed significantly in recent years, leading to its call. “A change to admissions policy along the lines suggested would be fair to both the faith community and those who do not belong to it,” the new body said, adding that it also supports faster and wider divestment of Catholic schools.

Read more...