Kathy Sheridan: Time to move on but some are not helping
Bishop Kevin Doran, John McGuirk and Declan Ganley just not accepting Yes vote
Declan Ganley: a chief executive and chairman of a firm which has benefited from military and defence contracts, he is demanding a “conscientious objection clause” to ensure his taxes are not paying for “the killing of the unborn”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
My captive audience pretended to listen to my apres-referendum coaching. Gracious in defeat, magnanimous in victory . . . Enough division . . .Observe what happened to the US after Trump, to the UK after the Brexit referendum; to Germany when the first World War was wrapped up by the humiliating Treaty of Versailles which left a national wound exploited by Hitler as a pretext for the second World War.
My tiny, domestic audience, hollow-eyed from turning the other cheek to “baby murderer” brickbats didn’t quite put their fingers in their ears and go la-la-la-la. But the upshot was a declaration from the coach that she at least would desist from mentioning the war in No-voting company and from things like demanding an apology from the 1983 drivers of the catastrophic Eighth Amendment – as Noel Whelan has eloquently suggested – for knowingly, deliberately, trampling over voices of reason.
That resolve lasted 24 hours. Heading home down the M4 on a cloudless day where the death-valley gauntlet of posters was already vanishing, a glance up at a maroon banner draped over a pedestrian bridge revealed something new. Flanked by a horrific abortion image, the message read: “Our taxes for abortion? No way.” Meanwhile John McGuirk, communications director for Save the 8th and master of the counter-productive taunt, was tweeting at length about “angry repealers”. “Once all the ‘oppression’ is gone, they’ll have to confront the fact that their misery is their own.”
Not even a pause for a little humble reflection before lashing the toys out of the pram. Bishop Kevin Doran decreed that Yes-voting Catholics had committed a sin and should go to Confession. A January pastoral letter from the bishop had advised those uncertain about how to vote to pray daily for the gift of wisdom. Wisdom is a combination of experience, knowledge and good judgment; some in the church are blessed with it, many decidedly are not. I thought of Ruth Bowie, a wise, soft-spoken paediatric nurse and Catholic who had come forward with her story of travelling with a fatal foetal abnormality in a much-wanted pregnancy. “I believe in a loving God and that I won’t be damned for what I did,” she said.
Wisdom is a combination of experience, knowledge and good judgment; some in the church are blessed with it, many decidedly are not
The standard response to Bishop Doran’s injunction is that he is upholding Catholic teaching and sure what else would he do. Yet Bishop Fintan Monahan was able to sound a more grounded note: “It’s a church and there are plenty of people with different attitudes within it and we have to accept that,” he told Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Another standard response is that no one cares what they say anymore. But some people do and they are our friends and neighbours. Doran and fellow travellers simply make it a lot harder. This has been a profoundly wounding, divisive campaign where “baby murderer” became a commonplace insult and eight-foot banners of graphic abortion images were hoisted outside maternity hospitals. Those barbaric insults, taunts and smears required a learned, resolute hardness of heart; the horrific images and swarms of aggressive, culturally ignorant, young Americans on a “mission” to convert Ireland required planning, organisation, numbers and hard cash.
Idiocies and ignorance
In different circumstances, the M4 tax objector might be funny (aside from the imagery). There are slews of utter dopes masquerading as public representatives whose values conflict heavily with mine and I heartily object to funding their wilful idiocies and ignorance.
This has been a wounding, divisive campaign where 'baby murderer' became a commonplace insult and eight-foot banners of graphic abortion images were hoisted outside maternity hospitals.
Interestingly, the M4 tax message chimes precisely with a Twitter torrent launched on Sunday by Declan Ganley, promoter of such democratic causes as “a Europe for the people by the people”. Ganley, chief executive and chairman of a US-based company which has benefited from military and defence contracts, is demanding a “conscientious objection clause” to ensure his taxes are not paying for “the killing of the unborn”.
He wants to live in Ireland but also wants the right to choose where his taxes go. This is not “tax evasion” he says, which “anyway would be entirely unnecessary as completely legal tax avoidance is an available path (and one I don’t want to take)”.
It’s an odd option to mention if he doesn’t want to take it (and how simply delightful for him that he has that choice), but it is fairly mundane compared to his second option if the revenue insists: “I will die first.”
To save Ganley, perhaps we could become the first country in the world to enable citizens to opt out of any non-military, tax-funded activity they dislike. How cool would that be?
There is another way, of course. It’s a longer, lonelier, more exhausting, more brutal path. It’s called vote-winning. Unless you just need to fling the toys out of the pram right now. Which is where we came in.