‘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

The media did not always love Mary McAleese, you know. Eoghan Harris got pilloried for calling her a tribal time bomb, but he was just better at sound(...)

‘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

Some time ago, the O’Connor family, who run a small pizzeria, received a query from a reporter. “Would you provide pizza for a gay wedding?” the repor(...)

‘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

Simone George, a solicitor and researcher, chose to introduce a report on domestic abuse in Ireland with an unusual image – a box of shoes. Sitting in(...)

‘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

Political commentators are ignoring one reason for Fianna Fáil’s continuing poor performance in opinion polls. Fianna Fáil under Micheál Martin is ali(...)

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

As someone who would not recognise a Dolce & Gabbana outfit even if I found it in Martina Navratilova’s dustbin, it was interesting to watch the v(...)

‘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

Some time ago, I visited a direct provision hostel that is within walking distance of the Dáil. Although it is so centrally located, no one to whom I (...)

‘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

The current debate about the Junior Cert conceals a far deeper problem. We have not had a serious public discussion about the aims of education. It us(...)

‘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

We don’t just have a democratic deficit, but a democratic disaster as the Government legislates with indecent speed concerning the conception and r(...)

‘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

Here’s a question. Is it the job of government to reflect reality, or where it is deficient, attempt to improve on it? Let’s apply the test to child p(...)

‘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

Hospice is a beautiful word for a beautiful concept. It touches and supports families at their time of greatest need, and does so with discretion and (...)