‘If Pope Emeritus Benedict were still alive when Pope Francis (above) retires it would no doubt trigger some epic event. Certainly if the prophecies of St Malachy and Nostradamus that my father relished telling me about are anything to go by.’  Photograph: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

‘Some people are already wondering if Francis will follow the humble example of his predecessor and retire’.

Like it or not: “This giant company [Facebook] is now the major source of news for many people.” Photograph: Getty Images

Hundreds of millions are being influenced by this hugely powerful company

Indpendent TD Katherine Zappone is now seeing her preferred model of childcare, that is, direct payments to childcare providers, being implemented.Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

It is the triump of ideology over what parents want, which is to look after children at home

Census 2016: The recent social media campaign which urged people to tick ‘No religion’, failed to understand that views on religion are not black and white.  Picture Nick Bradshaw

We may not choose to actively support something - but heaven help anyone who tries to say that we are not entitled to it.

Seán MacBride; A co-founder of Amnesty International he voted yes to the Eighth Amendment, and wrote an influential newspaper article two days before the Referendum.

Amnesty International is manipulating the right not to be tortured in order to invent a ‘right’ to end a tiny human being’s life (...)

Pope Francis: “A particular kind of parish priest, of course, one completely orthodox but utterly aware of and compassionate towards human frailty. The kind of priest who is a bit garrulous, prone to re-telling anecdotes, but is nobody’s fool.”  ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

‘The pope’s apostolic exhortation is a practical document with immense pastoral experience behind it, and decades of knowing famil(...)

Court: “I believe that little was to be gained by prosecuting the young woman [who took abortion pills]  in Northern Ireland”

Pro-choice advocates did not mention Jade Rees, although the system they wish to introduce is at the very least implicated in h(...)

Loyalist forces stand guard on a main road in the Mansoura residential district of Yemen’s second city of Aden after they pushed Al-Qaeda out of parts of the  city. Photograph:  Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP/Getty Images

The story of Fr Tom Uzhunnalil spread on social media before the details were verified

A cross which marks the place where James Connolly was executed, sitting in a chair, in  Kilmainham Gaol. Photograph: Frank Miller

This Easter, we could honour the sacrifices of the Rising by remembering religion’s role

 Aylan Kurdi’s body lies on the shores in Bodrum, southern Turkey, on September 2, 2015.  Photo  Nilufer Demir/AFP/Getty Images

Sub-contracting responsibility for refugees to Ankara sees refugees as a threat to be kept out, not human beings in need of shelte(...)

Lucinda Creighton: her defeat was largely due to Fine Gael tribalism. Photograph: Eric Luke

‘Social issues’ do count. All politics is local. People don’t want recovery for the few.

Cork University Maternity Hospital: important research has been carried out at the hospital with mothers who decided to continue their pregnancies. Image: Google Streetview

Mothers who continue their pregnancy are rarely lauded as brave – at best, they are patronised

The doughty Mattie McGrath: Voted against the Orwellian titled Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Look for someone who would defy the party whip because of personal conviction

Moyross: Primary school children do not have any access to National Educational Psychological Services, despite the fact that the Department of Education knows that many of the children  require therapeutic interventions. Picture: Don Moloney / Press 22

For many young people raised in poverty, either numbing out through drug use, or becoming a tiny cog in the criminal machine, can (...)

Minister of State  Kathleen Lynch. The proposed commission of inquiry is designed to deflect criticism before an election. Photograph: Joe Boland

Our child protection and welfare system is broken, and there is no political will to fix it

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan  unveiling measures to tackle the mortgage arrears crisis in 2013. There are about 750,000 residential mortgages in Ireland, and over 92,000 of those are in arrears – about one in eight. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

There is still a sense of shame and stigma that blocks people from accessing help

An Armenian Orthodox woman prays at the Syrian Saint Sarkis Church during Christmas celebrations on January 6, 2016 in Damascus. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA

EU should follow Lithuania’s lead rather than cowardice and expediency of US

It is a moot point as to when a foetus experiences pain, but it is not a moot point as to when someone becomes human

Päivi Räsänen of the unashamedly pro-family Christian Democratic party was Finland’s interior minister until the  election last year.

We have simply replaced one set of authorities whom we feared to challenge with another

‘Imagine if a fraction of the passion that is expended on getting re-elected was expended on creating narratives that point to the brighter future that can result from caring for the environment.’ Photograph: Clement Sabourin/AFP/Getty Images

In my view, the media have to bear a huge amount of responsibility for the lack of a compelling narrative that motivates change

Again and again, research has shown that denominational schools are far more likely to contain minorities such as travellers or immigrant children, and to welcome them. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

It is more than likely a symbolic response by Minister O’Sullivan to Fine Gael’s refusal to buy her School Admissions Bill

RAF Typhoons arrive at RAF Akrotiri to begin operations againts Isis in Syria in Akrotiri, Cyprus. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Can you really say that air strikes on fighters dispersed among a civilian population fulfil the criteria of proportionate force a(...)

Zapatero’s government introduced a one-stage ‘express’ divorce law. The incidence of divorce jumped from 51,000 divorces in 2004 to 127,000 in 2007, and eventually levelled off at roughly double the 2004 rate. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

The law is a teacher. It embodies what society considers to be worth both validating and punishing.

Fr Kevin Reynolds meeting with parishioners after Mass after he was welcomed back to his ministry in Saint Cuan’s Church in Ahascragh in 2011. It was fortunate for him that DNA testing cleared his name. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

Religious have long been subjected to similar treatment by media and the Church

Everyone in the abortion industry wants to paint Gosnell as a monster, but while he is a very strange and disturbed individual, in one respect he is identical to abortion advocates everywhere – his reasoning.

So long as the safety valve of abortion is there, we never have to take seriously the issue of providing real alternatives.

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny ...”Our Taoiseach has given us a vision for this State – the best small country in the world in which to do business.” Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘The degree to which this Taoiseach has been given free passes is quite extraordinary’

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass of the Synod on the Family. He announced a new Vatican office for Catholic laity and families. Slow, slow progress, but progress, nonetheless. Photograph: Ettore Ferrari/EPA.

Layman voting at synod shows it is possible laywomen could be next

 The cuts in Traveller education were made because it was easy to do. The masses would not be taking to the streets to protest. Photograph:  Cyril Byrne

Reinstating the Visiting Teacher Scheme and resources teachers for Travellers would be a practical, realisable way to mark watersh(...)

I am getting really tired of advocates of state-funded childcare who make claims along the lines that long-term studies show that every €1 invested in early quality care and education will deliver €7 in improved outcomes. Those studies were conducted on disadvantaged children

Pre-school intervention works best when employed to make up for a lack of adequate parenting

Sombreros: Banned at the University of East Anglia lest they cause offence. Getty

“Vindictive protectiveness” is on the rise

Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton: Like the four he chose to highlight, Francis defies easy categorisation.

All shared an intense consciousness of the centrality of God in their lives

“Children who went through Quebec’s child-care system were more likely to commit a crime, have poor health and experience lower levels of life satisfaction.”

What is good for disadvantaged children is not good for all children, research suggests

A demonstration outside the Dáil in 2013 ahead of a vote to introduce abortion in limited cases where the mother’s life is at risk. Photograph: PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images

‘You can argue about personhood before birth, but you cannot argue about humanity’

Aylan Kurdi, with his brother Galip, who both died trying to reach Europe: Aylan ‘deserves a public campaign to bring more of his fellow Syrians, and other refugees here’.

‘I feel that photographs taken after a tragic death demean a person’s dignity’

A  Syrian migrant runs after crossing under a fence as he enters Hungary, at the border with Serbia, near Roszke, August 27th, 2015.  Photograph:  Reuters/Bernadett Szabo

Images from ‘Children of Men’ are eerily similar to current television news broadcasts, down to the cages and the barbed wire

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn speaks outside the Tyne Theatre and Opera House, Newcastle, during his campaign. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

‘How viable is our democracy when despite the proliferation of new parties and old, many Irish people still have no party for whic(...)

‘The Educational Welfare Service records home-schooled children by age rather than whether they are at primary or secondary level.’ Photograph: Getty Images

There are formidable obstacles to pursuing the Leaving Certificate at home

Pope Francis at the end of  his visit to South America earlier this month. Photograph:  EPA/Andres C Benitez

The Pope should strike a blow against the ‘overwork’ culture

Anti-abortion campaigners protesting in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Taking foetal organs for profit requires obliteration of individuals’ humanity

The Scandinavian childcare system has evolved “because of a cultural consensus that simply does not exist in Ireland.”

In Sweden it is considered almost regressive to want to look after your child yourself

Pope Francis –   insists on the importance of recognising difference: “Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology.”  Photograph: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Francis builds on ‘human ecology’ to ask how to develop an ‘integral ecology’

Anti-abortion protesters outside the Dáil  as the amendments to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill were being voted on in 2013. Photograph: Dave Meehan

‘An equal right to life is a much more basic and foundational concept than Constitutional recognition of a loving relationship’ (...)

‘Communities come into their own, like schools, which continue to have deep significance long after pupils have left them behind, and parishes, which open their doors to create a safe space to gather.’  Above, flowers have been laid beside a memorial service in UCD, Dublin for the six students who died in the balcony collapse tragedy in Berkeley, California. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

‘Sometimes we worry that community is weakening in Ireland. That may be true in some respects, but it is at times of bereavement t(...)

‘Modern sexual mores are naive in a different way. The assumption is that sex can be just another recreational activity without any downside, so long as consent is present.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Consent, personal autonomy, and choice are the new holy trinity of modern mores’

 ‘Robert  Putnam believes that the “neo-traditional model” of family, that is, stable, durable marriages of biological parents, where both parents are likely to work but also invest significant time into parenting, leads to a range of positive outcomes for children.’ Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

‘Until Irish people can re-discover the sense that the poorer kids are also our kids, a crusade to end child poverty will never re(...)

 A No campaign poster  in Dublin: “This  same Government presided over the disintegration of mental health services – everything from removing guidance counsellors from school, often the first to pick up serious problems – to decimating the psychiatric services.” The hypocrisy is stunning.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

‘734,300 No voters are just as generous and inclusive as those who voted Yes’

‘Catherine  Deneuve says that in the 1960s, “high-heeled shoes were for women of ill repute. They were reserved for those who were obliged by their profession to live up to a caricature. Do women today really want to make caricatures of themselves?” Yes, apparently.’ Above, Deneuve with and actor Benoit Magimel pose as they arrive for the screening of the film “Standing Tall” (Tête Haute) during the opening ceremony of the 68th Cannes Film Festival. Photograph: CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images

‘High heels were once the exclusive province of men’

‘This Government’s only commitment to marriage is to re-defining it to make it gender-neutral and then repeating loudly that it represents no change at all.’ Above, Eileen King, Keith Mills and Tom Finegan  during the Mothers and Fathers Matter press conference  in Dublin where they unveiled their new campaign posters and put questions to the Referendum Commission this week. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

‘This Government’s only commitment to marriage is to re-defining it to make it gender-neutral’

‘Let’s not forget Marriage Equality, whose name even ended up on the referendum ballot paper.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Groupthink has been exalted to an Irish sacrament’

Retired Supreme Court justice Catherine McGuinness with community garda Kerrie Sullivan at Pearse Street station, Dublin, on Sunday. Photograph: Paul Sharp/Sharppix

‘It is just one of the deeply disturbing aspects of the debate, or should that be non-debate, in advance of the referendum’

‘There is genuine horror at the stories emerging of migrants drowning in their hundreds, and the danger, as Pope Francis put it, of the Mediterranean becoming a vast cemetery.’ Above, rescued migrants  after disembarking from the Italian Navy vessel “Bettica” in the harbour of Augusta, this week.  Photograph: AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi

‘In a landmark decision on Wednesday, the High Court ruled that gardaí­ failed to identify a victim of human trafficking, resultin(...)

‘I think I know what prompted Mary McAleese to speak out – deep compassion for a minority in Irish society who have been badly treated in virtually every country in the world.’ Above, former President Mary McAleese with her husband Dr Martin McAleese. Photograph: Frank Miller / THE IRISH TIMES

‘If the referendum is passed, there will be children born in this country who will never experience a mother’s love’

‘A somewhat silly hypothetical question from a reporter eager for a story (who serves pizza at weddings?) resulted in credible death threats, police protection, and the family being forced to close their business temporarily.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Same-sex marriage referendum is not just about saying ‘I do’

‘Being a male who experiences domestic violence is doubly stigmatising, because it is seen as emasculating, and because people are frankly sceptical that women can inflict damage on men in the same way.’ Photograph: Getty Images

We need a second report on sexual abuse and violence in Ireland – and we must act on it

‘Micheál Martin is obsessed with electoral success in Dublin, but he believes that the way to gain it is by “modernising” the party. He has surrounded himself with people who think the same way, and is doing the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and going “nah-nah-nah-nah” to anyone inside or outside the party who says anything different.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

‘There is no party that now represents those who are socially conservative but not economically right wing’

‘Pregnant models stalked down the catwalk, and instead of carrying dinky little handbags, some of the models toted beautiful babies.’  Photograph: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Elton John and Martina Navratilova criticise ‘parenting’ views of designers

‘The Government operates a system of direct provision for asylum-seekers, so that each adult gets €19.10 a week, along with accommodation and food. People languish for years in a system originally intended to be a temporary measure for six months or so.’ Above, a group of  asylum seekers, refugees and supporters which marched from the Dáil to the Department of Justice last year protesting about the system of direct provision. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

‘Kathy feels as if the State has cut her adrift after almost forcibly institutionalising her. She doesn’t want to be dependent . .(...)

‘They are the ones most affected by cutbacks in resources, or services such as guidance counselling. Yet the Government continues to deny the effects of such cutbacks.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Should education be about creating a compliant workforce or good citizens?

‘Not one major political party has the courage to represent the absolutely unexceptional view that being a biological parent is more than being a blood donor. Or that it is possible to have an inclusive and tolerant society which also respects the fact that it takes a man and woman to make a child, and that marriage should reflect that reality.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘The Government has declared that it makes no difference whether your biological parents raise you, or whether two men or two w(...)

‘The majority of people who use IVF in Ireland do not use donor eggs or sperm, but this Bill normalises and reinforces the idea that it is fine to do so, so long as you give the child some meagre information when they turn 18.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Apparently it is fine for children to be denied their genetic heritage and kinship networks through “modern means of family forma(...)

‘The news that the child you are carrying may not make it to birth, or will only live for a short time, perhaps only hours, days, weeks, months, or in rare cases, years, splinters parents’ hearts.’  Photograph: Getty Images

Parents need expert support when they hear their baby faces a life-limiting condition

 ‘The convent in Muckross Park, Donnybrook, is full of exceptional women, but none of them would begrudge praise given to Sr Barnabas Kett (Barnie), as they grieve for her just as much as her beloved family of origin do.’ Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

‘Like all the Dominican sisters who taught, Sr Barnabas Kett believed education was the key to a good life, one where you could (...)

‘In Ireland, we have a sad tendency to conform when it comes to political ideas, whether it be the rigid consensus of the 1950s, or the apparently ideologically opposite, but in fact, eerily similar 2015 version.’  Photograph: Getty Images

Twitterverse is a bubble, removed from most people’s experience

‘Lots of people won’t get to be raised by loving biological parents because of neglect, abandonment, or tragic circumstances. Children can turn out really well despite all sorts of challenges. But usually, we recognise that not being raised by your Mam or Dad constitutes a loss.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘The inconvenient truth is that we are altering Article 41 of the Constitution which has a simple heading – the Family’

Through volunteer photographers at Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, baby Liadan’s parents find comfort.  Photographer: EIleen Hyland

We don’t deal well with the death of babies with life-limiting illnesses

‘Ironically, moderate Muslims are likely to suffer most in the fallout from the Paris murders, and were also most likely to suffer in the aftermath of the publication of provocative cartoons or commentary.’  Above, Hassen Chalghoumi (left), Imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris, leaves flowers and prays near the Charlie Hebdo offices on Thursday. Photograph: Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

‘What is best in religion must now be mustered to defeat peacefully those who represent the worst of religious extremism’

‘My mother is 15 years dead this year, and I found myself thinking about the Christmas pudding that she used to steam in a gallon tin.’ Photograph: Getty Images

I still have no idea what ‘a bun baked standing’ meant

‘The capacity for wrongdoing lies within each of us. Simple things like working in a residential unit where there is a strong culture of care, versus working in one where the opposite is true, can cause us to act in ways that those closest to us would find surprising or even appalling.’ Photograph: Getty Images

What makes some people treat others badly – or well?

‘For three decades Australians on low incomes have been able to access no-interest and low-interest loans through Good Shepherd Microfinance.’  Photograph: Getty Images

‘Somehow, we think that it is acceptable and inevitable that those who are most likely need to borrow relatively small sums just t(...)

A candlelight vigil outside the Dáil in response to the death on Molesworth Street, Dublin  of Jonathan Corrie, who was homeless. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

‘A shy, gentle, wild creature in mortal terror of the people who were clumsily trying to help. He left, and we never saw him again(...)

‘Students understand that the key question is whether teachers should be the final judges of 40 per cent of the work they will do for State certification. And just like their teachers, they think that is a really bad idea.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Government should keep external assessment and develop an education system driven by educational needs, not cost-cutting

Peter Mathews: new Bill. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: Are large numbers of Irish citizens having a Howard Beale moment, prompted by the Irish Water debacle?

‘If a wife discovers that her husband is buying the “services” of a woman working in prostitution, the sense of betrayal is immense. Why is that?’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: ‘Why is it that if someone buys a vote from a councillor, it is seen as corruption, but if someone buys the use of someon(...)

 ‘Brittany Maynard, found meaning in actively promoting the “right to die”.’ Photograph: Maynard Family, File

Opinion: More and more patients request euthanasia because they are fearful of being a burden, as the ‘right to die’ becomes the ‘(...)

 ‘The Sophia housing project is an excellent intensive residential intervention, but sometimes, much more low-key and local initiatives can prevent people ever reaching an extreme stage such as homelessness or facing a care order.’ above, children playing at the Sophia housing project. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Opinion: Local women are trained to help young mothers before other services might be needed

‘I believe Gerry Adams  when he says that he prioritised the peace process so that no young person would have to kill or maim in the name of freedom. However, it is still utterly chilling that he seems to believe that violence was perfectly understandable in the absence of such a process.’ Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Opinion: ‘While many look at Gerry Adams and think of the thousands who died in an unwinnable battle, his acolytes see the man who(...)

‘Pope Francis called for discussion on family life, and we are getting discussion, but we have not been used to grown-up discussion in the Catholic Church. Instead, we have been excellent at mutual excommunication, and caricature.’ above, Pope Francis waves to members of the media as he leaves a morning session of  the synod on family issues, at the Vatican. Photograph: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Opinion: Priest helped unmarried parents to gradually build foundation for family

‘The report points out astonishing anomalies in the way that children’s cases are treated. Take the issue of care orders, where children are taken into the care of the State, usually into foster care, for their own safety.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: ‘Early intervention and support could prevent a great deal of grief later on’

  ‘Pope Francis’s decision to go to Lampedusa early in his ministry reflected that concern, and few institutions understand better the push/pull factors that underpin forced migration, particularly in the developing world.’ Above, Pope Francis  recently  met  some migrants who survived the boat sinking on  October 3rd, 2013 off the island of Lampedusa.  Photograph: L’Osservatore Romano

Opinion: Complex pastoral challenges raised by cultural norms and demographic shifts

‘It is probably wise that the revised scheme of Bill issued this week declines to deal with surrogacy, given that there is a current Supreme Court case.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Unmarried fathers are still not automatically entitled to guardianship rights

A woman touches an icon of the Virgin Mary during a pilgrimage to    Lourdes .... “inside the Domain, there is a intensely spiritual atmosphere, even when you are not taking part in a procession”. , southwestern France, on August 24,   (Photo: Remy Gabalda/AFP/Getty Images)

‘People rarely talk about how so many charities would fall apart without the fundraising done by students ’

Monica O’Connor  being taken by gardaí from her home  to prison. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

Opinion: Would better communication and a change of culture have helped both the Kings and Monica O’Connor?

‘In the early 2000s, senior social care managers and police continued to believe that the scale of the problem was exaggerated.’ Above, a protest outside Rotherham police station following the publication of the child exploitation  report. Photograph:  Lynne Cameron/PA

Opinion: It is naive to believe the Irish Child and Family Agency can overcome all the flaws of the previous regime in a short ti(...)

‘Being stigmatised for being pregnant outside of marriage was a common phenomenon until recent decades in Ireland. We routinely condemn those times.’  Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: ‘There are two very vulnerable people in this nightmare who have been let down by our selective indignation’

‘The young women’s father spoke eloquently to me about how difficult it is to demand high standards of work and commitment, all the while knowing that under current circumstances, it is impossible for them to go to third level.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Their parents are not permitted to work, and neither are they

‘Eddie and Monica’s six children, aged from six to 27, have all been educated at home, although their older children decided to enter formal education in their teens.’ Above, Eddie O’ Neill with some of the children (Eamonn, Elva, Oran  and Emmet). Photograph: Eric Luke / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: When they refused to pay the fine imposed on them, they were each sentenced to 10 days’ in prison

‘Being a politician at national level, if you are not from Dublin or nearby, means a lot of time spent away from home.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

Opinion: Ireland is among the 10 lowest-ranked EU countries when it comes to political and economic representation of women

 Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivers Progress’ inaugural annual Philip Gould Lecture on July 21st in London –   Labour “has to be progressive and base policies on reality, not a delusionary view of the world”, he sid .   Photograph: John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images

New Labour’s legacy is not progressive – it is narcissistic. And has affected our politics too

Opinion: Tumblr presents a virtually parodic version of allegedly liberal values

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as Watson and Holmes: sharing a flat but not a bed

Opinion: Reporting the Christian bakery sends the message that it is not okay to disagree

‘Leah Libresco’s unusual qualities may be indicated by the fact that it was livestreamed by iCatholic.ie, but she was also extensively interviewed by Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland.’

Opinion: Personalised abuse indicates if someone says “I hate you!” they may really be in pain, she suggests

‘Rather than discussing how technology could ease the endurance test, we could just have shorter but deeper courses, and have exams where it is normal to pause, gaze at the ceiling and really think, rather than just frantically scribble.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Could the keyboard be mightier than the pen when it comes to exams?

‘The point of investigating the past is not just avoiding the mistakes that were made then, because times have changed so utterly that we are very unlikely to bury poor children in unmarked graves.’ Above, the site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Opinion: If you are small and powerless, even the most basic respect of having a marked grave may be denied you

‘All Hallows was once a seminary. It always had a lovely atmosphere, but once vocations declined, it became a warm, humane college of higher education primarily for lay people.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: A significant number of its students came from families where there was no tradition of higher education

‘All Hallows was once a seminary. It always had a lovely atmosphere, but once vocations declined, it became a warm, humane college of higher education primarily for lay people.’  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Opinion: A significant number of its students came from families where there was no tradition of higher education

Photograph: Sunday Alamba/AP

Opinion: Simple slogans can’t replace dialogue and hard bargaining

‘These letters provide significant background to an important era in US history.’  An  undated  image  of Jacqueline Kennedy with Fr Joseph Leonard. Photograph courtesy of  Sheppard’s Irish Auction House

Opinion: Such an exchange between an elderly priest and a famous woman is hard to imagine today

‘For decades, people have been warning about the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU.’ Above,  counting European election votes at the RDS Count Centre in 2009. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Many Irish voters are socially conservative, but are not particularly right-wing economically. Where is the party that represents (...)

‘What about justice for children who are short-changed in education, or social services? If they fall foul of the law, will they receive the same understanding?’ Photograph: Getty Images

Opinion: Schools at breaking point over cuts in provision for special educational needs

‘This weekend as two popes are canonised, there will be a number of predictable media narratives. It has been declared that the canonisation of Good Pope John is overdue (true), while the canonisation of Pope John Paul is a disaster, because of his lack of action over sexual abuse, and his innate conservatism.’ Photograph: Michael Kappeler/EPA

Opinion: Media does not reflect complexity of papal story

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