News Roundup

Many Catholics feel excluded from main NI nationalist parties , says Toibin

A ‘new sectarianism’ in republican and nationalist politics has left people finding it difficult to admit they are committed Catholics, according to former Sinn Fein TD, Peadar Toibin.

After a public meeting in Maghera, Derry, he said he was really taken aback by the level of pain and hurt felt by Catholics with regards to the two main nationalist parties, Sinn Fein and the SDLP. “One of the key issues for sure was the feeling of a new sectarianism in the nationalist and republican community, where it is difficult to say in public that you are a practising Catholic, attend Mass and are raising your children as Catholics,” he said.

He added that three or four people at the Maghera meeting were nationalists or republicans who now vote DUP because it is the only NI party with clear pro-life stance; and some of them were even Irish language enthusiasts “who speak the language in their own homes”. It could be that this pattern of a minority of nationalists voting DUP on account of its pro-life stance might be reflected across NI, he added.


Tale of German man who survived abortion has lessons for Irish abortion regime

A man who survived a failed late-term abortion in Germany in 1997 has died aged 21 and his story paints a cautionary tale of what could very well happen in Ireland today where much the same regime is now in place.

As a baby, Tim was diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the 20th week of gestation. Germany allowed abortions only for the first 13 weeks, except in cases when the mother feels – for health or psychological reasons – unable to carry the baby to term. As his mother threatened to take her own life, the late-term abortion – legal up to 22 weeks – was scheduled. In Tim’s case, however, the doctor did not use potassium chloride to stop the heart, assuming he would not survive labour. Born weighing just 690g (1½lbs), nurses wrapped him in a towel, where he spent the first nine hours of his life alone. After that, realising he was still alive, doctors and nurses began to provide him with medical care. After surviving his extreme prematurity, doctors still gave him only one or maximum two years to live because of various health difficulties, including underdeveloped lungs, which made him susceptible to infections. However, he was adopted by a couple who loved him and cared for him and he lived up to the age of 21.

He passed away without warning after a “wonderful Christmas” at home with his family, days after contracting a lung infection.

In Germany the routine abortion of children diagnosed with downs syndrome continues with 9 out 10 babies with the diagnosis being aborted.


Belgium’s euthanasia law in the dock at European Court of Human Rights

The euthanizing of a woman in Belgium in accord with the country’s euthanasia laws is being investigated by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The court said it would consider whether Belgium had violated two parts of the European Convention on Human Rights in euthanizing Godelieva De Troyer, 64, who had struggled with depression for years. The woman’s own doctor refused to approve her euthanasia request, so she sought out other physicians who did.

Her son, Tom Mortier, who took the case said that Belgium failed to protect his mother’s life and that there was no thorough or effective investigation into her death.

Robert Clarke, one of Mortier’s lawyers, said there were some “deeply worrying” details about the case. “This was a woman who was under the care of a psychiatrist and according to medical definition was a vulnerable person,” Clarke said. “The state had a duty of care to protect her and it failed.”


Middle East’s biggest cathedral opens near Cairo, Egypt

Egypt’s largest cathedral and the biggest in the Middle East has just been inaugurated in the new administrative capital east of Cairo. The Cathedral was opened by the President of Egypt Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. The newly built Cathedral of Nativity had its first Mass under heavy security on Sunday, the eve of Coptic Christmas. Copts make up about 10% of Egypt’s Muslim-majority population.

Mr Sisi, who declares himself a defender of Christians against extremists, told worshippers the simultaneous opening of the cathedral and the major Al-Fattah Al-Aleem mosque carried a message of unity. “We are one and we will remain one,” Mr Sisi said as he opened the cathedral, referring to Egyptian Christians and Muslims.


Belgian ban on kosher slaughter impacts Jewish customs

A regional law banning methods used in ritual slaughter of animals has gone into effect in Flanders Belgium. The law has forced butchers and factories producing kosher meat for observant Jews to close. The law has also caused members of the Jewish community to worry about what other laws impacting their beliefs and way of life may be coming down the line.

Wim van den Brande has had to fire his 10 employees and close up shop, in the hope of moving his factory to Hungary. For him and hundreds of meat industry professionals, the new law is “an attack on traditions and on an entire industry,” he told JTA.

Kosher meat can still be imported from elsewhere within the European Union trading bloc. “On the ground, it makes little difference. We still have meat,” said Nechemiah Schuldiner, a leader of the Shomre Hadas Orthodox Jewish community of Antwerp. “The problem is the message it sends. It tells Jews: We don’t want you here.”

Schuldiner fears the law, which he considers a ban, is a “prelude to a ban on importing kosher meat,” and a move heralding “new restrictions, be in on milah [circumcision] or other elements of Jewish life.”


Protest over proposed named change to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

Several hundred protesters took part in a demonstration in Drogheda on Sunday, against proposals to change the name of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

Management at the facility indicated to staff last month that the name of the hospital would be changed.

Protesters vociferously objected to references to Our Lady being removed from the name of the hospital, which was founded in the 1950s by Mother Mary Martin and the Medical Missionaries of Mary.

One protestor told reporters the hospital is synonymous with Mother Mary and while he himself was not religious, he said changing the name was “ridiculous”. Others underlined that it was a matter of identity rather than religion.

Another participant in the protest said that rebranding the hospital would be costly and unnecessary and makes little sense when the HSE is refusing to fund necessary medical additions to the Hospital such as a second x-ray room.


Small silent protest of first abortion at Drogheda hospital

A group of “concerned citizens” stood in protest outside Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co Louth on Monday morning after it was claimed on social media that the first abortion at the hospital was scheduled to take place. The seven-strong group held placards saying “Let him be born”, “Warning: Killing in progress”, “Let her be born”, and “Abortion is murder”.

One of the group, Charles Byrne, said, “it is a quiet protest. We are not going to leaflet people, we had the leaflets in the referendum; this is merely to show support for that child that is losing their life today.”

The posts on social media alerting people to the first abortion in the hospital were described as “despicable” by Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Particular ire was directed at Professor Ray Kinsella who had tweeted: “1st #abortion due to take place in Our Lady of Lourdes on Monday morning. Please pray hard that the #mother will recognise the #baby as a gift from God”. Various media personalities, politicians and campaigners lambasted him for his tweet.


Hospitals squabble over provision of abortion

Some hospitals providing abortions have imposed restrictions on who can avail of the procedure as they do not wish to become a national centre for abortions nor let other hospitals ‘off the hook’ for providing terminations.

Only nine of the State’s nineteen hospitals with maternity units have pledged to provide abortions, but some of those, such as the Rotunda in Dublin and the National Maternity Hospital, have been restricting the operation to patients who live within the hospital’s ‘catchment area’. The restriction has taken the HSE by surprise who have responded by warning hospitals to immediately stop. In a letter to individual hospitals, it says there is no legal basis for catchment areas and women seeking an abortion have the right to choose the location for their termination.

Sources told the Irish Times that one reason the hospitals imposed the restriction was to avoid becoming a de facto national centre for abortion referrals. It was also felt a failure to limit referrals would let other units, which are not yet ready to provide the service, “off the hook”.


Poll shows majority oppose under-18 gender change

54% of voters think those under the age of 18 should not be allowed to change their gender according to a new Behaviour & Attitudes poll for The Sunday Times. The poll found a mere 29% thought they should while the remaining respondents either didn’t know or had no opinion. The results of the poll run counter to the law as it stands which allows 16 and 17 year olds to change their gender after undergoing a medical evaluation if they have parental consent. The poll even more strongly opposes changes to the law proposed by the recent review of the 2015 Act governing gender changes which would allow under 16s to change their gender.


Rate of new HIV infections rises by 8%

The number of people diagnosed with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Ireland rose by 8 per cent last year with 531 diagnoses in 2018, up from 492 the previous year. This comes despite an overall decline in rates of new cases across the European Union.

The latest data shows the rate of chlamydia in Ireland also increased in 2018, rising 7 per cent from 7,405 cases in 2017 to 7,942 cases last year. Rates of gonorrhoea also rose 7 per cent in 2018. The rate of syphilis rose by more than 25 per cent, from 411 diagnosed cases in 2017 to 516 cases last year.