News Roundup

NGOs must ‘listen hard’ after crushing defeat of care referendum

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) must “listen hard” to those they represent, leading voices of the No campaign in last week’s referendum on care have said.

NGOs advocating Yes-Yes votes faced criticism following the overwhelming rejection of the family and care referendums last week. There have been suggestions Oireachtas members will review Government funding of the sector.

The Family Carers Ireland (FCI) organisation, which describes itself as representing “family and young carers across the country” is one of those who has faced a backlash.

The Equality Not Care (ENC) group, founded to campaign against the care referendum, this week called for the “immediate resignation” of the “leadership” of FCI. Michael O’Dowd, a carer and member of ENC, said the FCI statement “felt like gaslighting and that they were relighting the referendum”.

Asked if there was a future for FCI, he said: “There has to be. But the board has to look at themselves … They are voluntary and there’s no doubting their commitment but they need to listen hard to carers and not assume they know best.”


ERSI report shows sex ed makes no difference to use of porn

There is no clear distinction between young people who receive sex education at school and those who don’t when it comes to consuming pornography, new research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found.

While the authors recommend more Social Personal and Health Education (SHPE), which incorporates sex education, they report that “there is no strong relationship between the provision of sex education at school and pornography use”.

This is in stark contrast with other factors which reveal significant differences.

According to the study, 64 per cent of 20-year-old men watch porn, while only 13 per cent of women that age reported use, a ratio of five to one, with different factors being linked to pornography use between the two cohorts.

Men from more advantaged backgrounds are more likely to use pornography, the report claims, and the pattern is not explained by their greater use of the internet in general. By contrast, there is little variation on usage by social background for women.

Pornography use was also lower among those with a religious affiliation and where there was greater parental monitoring in adolescence – of internet use for men and not spending time home alone for women.

Men who access pornography are said to be less satisfied with their lives, have more depressive symptoms and a poorer self-image.

Among both women and men there are higher levels of aggression for users.

They are also likely to cope with stress by drinking alcohol or by drug-taking, or taking to their bed.


Supreme Court to decide if ‘mothers in the home’ article imposes funding obligations

A significant appeal over the refusal of the maximum carers allowance to a mother caring full-time at home for her profoundly disabled son is set to proceed before the Supreme Court next month.

The appeal raises issues described by the court as of “systemic importance”.

The issues include the State’s obligations, if any, to home-based carers under article 41.2, which endeavour to protect mothers from being obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties within the home.

The mother at the centre of the Supreme Court appeal cares full-time at home for her son.

In High Court proceedings the woman argued she is entitled to the maximum carer’s allowance despite having a spouse who earns an income.

She claimed the failure to do so breached her constitutional rights, including to equal treatment and under article 41.2 to have her work in the home recognised and supported.


Ethics watchdog has ‘no role’ to query State-funded NGO referendum spending

New questions have been raised about the referendum campaigns of State-funded NGOs, after the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) said it had “no role” in examining their spending.

The No side in the family and care referendums accused Ministers of using interest groups to fight a proxy Yes case for constitutional change.

Senator Michael McDowell and Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said the lack of independent scrutiny raised questions about the McKenna ruling of the Supreme Court, which bans the spending of public money.

The gap emerged when the Standards in Public Office Commission and the new Electoral Commission said they had no power to examine whether non-government organisations (NGOs) comply with the Supreme Court ruling.

The ethics watchdog said: “While the Standards in Public Office Commission has a role under the Electoral Act 1997 in regard to third parties receiving donations for political purposes, including for a referendum campaign, it has no role concerning the expenditure of public monies by non-governmental organisations in the circumstances to which you refer.”


New regulations endanger availability of kosher meat in Canada, say Jewish certifiers

Canadian government regulations are endangering the ability of the Jewish community to produce kosher meat, leading kosher certifiers have said in a joint letter. Kosher meat is a requirement of Jewish religious law and limiting its availability is being seen as an attack on religious freedom that also affects Muslims.

The regulations on kosher and halal slaughter, according to sources familiar with the process, require that a significant number of 18 indicators be met to be certain that the animal is in an irreversible unconscious state in which it experiences no pain.

“Since these new guidelines have gone into effect, the amount of kosher meat produced in Canada has decreased dramatically,” said various Jewish groups. The community has been trying to temporarily supplement this shortfall with imported kosher meat, but this situation is not viable over the long term.”


Mothers ‘almost completely excluded’ from post-referendum analysis

The huge support for retaining the mention of mothers in the Constitution has been almost completely excluded from the post-referendum analysis according to one prominent journalist.

Speaking on the Tonight Show, Virgin Media 1, Sarah Carey said the people who voted against the referendums, especially the one that would have deleted the mention of mothers, “were not members of the far-right, were not confused, were not misinformed”.

“So many mothers contacted me and wrote to me about that aspect which I addressed in one of my columns. It has been almost completely excluded from the analysis. And Maria Steen who took on the Tánaiste and beat him in that debate [on RTE] wasn’t interviewed by any mainstream media on Saturday, so I had to watch an interview with her on the Gript Media platform”.

She continued: “…the aspect of mothers is very important. . . . This is a text I got from a cousin of mine who sent it to me on Saturday, and she said: ‘my whole circle of friends, work colleagues, facebook friends, who are all mothers and all ends of the social structure of society were most annoyed at the mother component and I think that has been excluded far too much from the debate’”.

The Irish Independent columnist added: “I was at a business networking meeting this morning for women, and professional women were  saying to me there, ‘Of course I voted “no”’.  One woman said to me ‘if it wasn’t in the Constitution, I’d be fighting to put it in”.

She concluded: “Mothers are exhausted. They are exhausted working. They are exhausted looking after their children.  They are exhausted keeping up to a standard they can’t meet. And the National Women’s Council of Ireland does not represent them”.


HSE still open to using controversial treatment for gender dysphoria

The HSE has said its new transgender health plan will not have to follow controversial World Professional Association for Transgender Health (Wpath) guidelines even though the Programme for Government had committed to implementing these, but has not ruled out using it either. The guidelines include using puberty blockers and sex hormones which critics say can cause lasting damage. The comment comes after the NHS banned the use of puberty blockers for minors.

The HSE recently recruited Dr Karl Neff to create a new model of care for children suffering with gender dysphoria.

Asked if the new model will follow Wpath guidelines, the HSE said: “This will be informed by the best evidence-based clinical care for individuals who express gender incongruence or dysphoria and emerging and evolving international evidence will be reviewed as part of this work.

“There is no requirement for the outcome of this work to be aligned with the approach of any particular organisation.”

Last Tuesday, leaked internal ­forum messages from Wpath included a post in which one doctor appeared to describe how a colleague developed liver cancer after eight to 10 years of taking hormones. Other posts showed doctors discussing how to provide treatment to patients with serious mental health issues.

A video of an internal Wpath workshop showed clinicians admitting they struggled to get “informed consent” from patients as young as nine who wanted hormone treatments as they did not understand how this could harm their future fertility. Wpath has been accused of being over-influenced by trans-activists.


‘Help mothers who want to stay at home’, says Fianna Fail Senator

Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers has called on the Government to do more to help mothers who want to stay at home.

She was speaking after the resounding defeat of the referendum to remove the protection offered to mothers to not be forced by economic necessity to work outside the home. She had supported a Yes vote in the campaign.

A recent Amarach Research opinion poll commissioned by The Iona Institute showed that 69pc of mothers with children under the age of 18 would prefer to stay at home with their children rather than go out to work if they could afford it.

Ms Chambers said that she could never have supported the word mother being taken out of the Constitution.

“It didn’t sit right with me, my gut told me that it wasn’t the right move.”

Ms Chambers described a Yes vote in the Care referendum as meaning taking a bit out and adding in a new section, and she said that while the 1937 wording might be a bit old fashioned, “there’s something in that”.

She said that Ireland needed to do more to allow people to stay at home if they want to. “I don’t think it’s a realistic option for lots of parents, particularly Mums, to stay at home if they want to, and that’s something we need to work on.”


Sinn Féin will not re-run family or care referendums

Sinn Féin will not re-run the defeated referendums if they win the next election and form a Government despite a promise some weeks ago by Mary Lou McDonald to do exactly that.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder yesterday, Sinn Féin TD and finance spokesperson Matt Carthy denied it would be a priority for them:

“It won’t be on our priority list at all… we have very important things that require to be changed in this society, above all housing and the need to reform our health services.”

He added: “We will not be re-running this referendum in the next Government”.

When launching Sinn Féin’s Yes-Yes campaign in February, leader Mary Lou McDonald said the party would re-run the questions with the wording proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly if it was elected to the next Government.

This now appears to be definitively ruled out.

“We got it wrong, quite simply,” Deputy Carthy said.

“We’re wrong because the people are always right, and the people told us emphatically what they think of this proposition.

“We have to reflect on that, we have to listen to that and above all, we have to respect it.”


Government credibility ‘crushed’ under avalanche of No/No ballots, says Independent TD

Cork TD and leader of the Independent Ireland Party, Michael Collins, has hailed the rejection of the Government’s proposed changes to the constitution as “an event of generational and transformative significance that will echo all the way into the local and general election campaign.”

“An agenda that was inherently anti-woman, anti-carer, anti-disability rights and anti-marriage was resoundingly rejected by the vast majority of people who saw through the charlatanism of a government that has done nothing but relentlessly antagonise, infuriate and patronise people for the last number of years,” said Deputy Collins.

“The credibility gap that already existed between what this government says it wants for people and what it does in real terms has widened to become a chasm. People have had enough. They want government out and they want issues that actually impact their lives and the lives of their families brought in from the margins of political debate and returned to the centre stage where they belong.”

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