‘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

Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the coverage of the forthcoming synod on the family has focused on whether it will become easier for the divorced and (...)

‘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

The Children and Family Relationships Bill is a highly complex piece of legislation. It covers everything from education programmes designed to encour(...)

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)

Until last week, I had never been to Lourdes, which is an admission, I suppose, on a par with Fintan O’Toole letting it be known that he had only rece(...)

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

Last Wednesday, five-year-old Ashya King was reunited with his parents at a hospital in Malaga. God knows what the days without them must have been li(...)

‘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

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council: Where everybody matters. You couldn’t make it up, but that is the slogan on the download page for Prof Alexis (...)

‘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

Our concern for migrant women seems to vary greatly. Take a migrant woman in inadequate accommodation somewhere in Ireland. She doesn’t speak English (...)

‘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

A very nervous teenager opens her Leaving Cert results, aware of her parents’ high expectations and that her older sister achieved high points two yea(...)

‘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

My friends of nearly 30 years, Eddie O’Neill and Monica O’Connor, are due to be jailed (at the time of writing) because they are principled people; it(...)

‘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

Browsing Trinity News (the Trinity student newspaper) last February, I was dismayed to see how few women were running for office in the student union.(...)

 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

Tony Blair gave the inaugural Philip Gould lecture this week. Gould is credited in Blair’s speech as the inventor of New Labour and of the Third Way. (...)