Members of the Palestrina Choir and St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Girls Choir: A papal visit will give encouragement to the dwindling band of active church members. So many ordinary Catholics have stuck with the church despite all the times it has let them down.  Photograph: Alan Betson Is Irish Catholic Church worthy of a visit by Pope Francis?

Our battered priests and people deserve a papal visit. Our church leaders do not

A wounded Syrian boy  in a crowded makeshift hospital in eastern Aleppo. Photograph: Thaer Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images Entire generation missing out on childhood in war-torn world

Government must ensure systems and supports exist for refugee children entering Ireland

Brett Lockhart QC: The Belfast Feminist Network  resigned as chair  the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival  because the barrister is giving a talk on abortion law as part of a presentation by the anti-abortion Both Lives Matter campaign. Belfast’s feminists do themselves no favours with boycott

In attempting to silence an anti-abortion group, they end up looking intolerant

Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces his resignation during a press conference at the Palazzo Chigi following the results of the vote for a referendum on constitutional reforms, on December 4, 2016 in Rome. "My experience of government finishes here," Renzi told a press conference after the No campaign won what he described as an "extraordinarily clear" victory in the referendum on which he had staked his future. / AFP PHOTO / Andreas SOLAROANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images Caretaker technocrats likely to inherit Italy’s uncertainty

Political instability could be avoided, but public finances and banks will suffer

People don’t become carers by choice: they do it because the situation arises and they feel a moral responsibility. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto Rachel Fehily: No thanks for carers who save HSE €4bn a year

We have allowed yet another unpaid, exploited group to emerge in Irish society

 Leo Varadkar: Criticised by Willie O’Dea for accepting a guest slot on RTÉ’s “Late Date”, the Minister cooly tweeted: “Ah chill Willie . . . You’re most welcome to ring in a request if you like.” Photograph: Alan Betson Una Mullally: After DJ Leo, how about ‘Enda Meets’ and ‘Nooney Goes Wild’?

Varadkar radio gig could be a first step in politicians taking over the Irish airwaves

Pro-choice activists  in front of  the US Supreme Court in Washington DC. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Donald Trump should be wary of ‘let them take the boat’ approach to abortion

Leaving individual states to decide on reproductive rights could be legally problematic

Fidel Castro  in Shannon during a stopover in 1982. Castro  left a box of  Cohiba cigars for then-taoiseach Charles Haughey. Diarmaid Ferriter: Haughey and Castro, cigars but not close

Irish policy towards Cuba hardened under Lemass and did not soften until 1995

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern: “He would be skilled in dealing with Donald Trump, partly because neither would understand what the other was on about.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien Vincent Browne: Bertie’s back and so is the silly season

Bertie Ahern achieved plenty, but he has way too much baggage for a comeback

Minister for Health Simon Harris won’t meet Tanya Coonan or her group, Every Life Counts, and has never met the other groups like One Day More who represent parents of babies with life-limiting conditions. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill Harris should meet parents of babies with life-limiting conditions

More support services needed for parents who choose to continue with such pregnancies

A water meter: “Whatever happens, those who paid deserve to get their money back.” Photograph: Alan Betson Stephen Collins: Refund of water charges vital for FG and FF

Solving public sector pay issue for short-term political gain would be a mistake

Permanent TSB was fined €4.5m by the Central Bank over its Springboard subsidiary overcharging customers. Photograph: Alan Betson Cliff Taylor: Banks sail on despite overcharging scandal

Institutions will be fined and customers compensated but will anything really change?

I’ll never forget walking around Glastonbury the morning of the result and feeling so sorry for Brits with their heads in their hands (and not from hangovers). Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images Una Mullally: After 2016, there’s nothing trivial about small acts of empathy

It is a crime to wish away time, but I cannot wait for this year to be over

A Right2Water  demonstration in Dublin. Unfounded concerns about privatisation “contributed to the creation of a climate of uncertainty and mistrust”, concludes an expert group. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill Noel Whelan: Water charges tossed back to politicians

Experts were given impossible, highly politicised task, making for timid report

Fidel Castro with Che Guevara. in the early days of the Cuban Revolution. The Cuban leadership, for all its doctrinaire and embattled postures, does not reflect the corruption and greed of a Batista, a Mobutu, a Marcos, or any more contemporary tyrant. Photograph: Roberto Salas/AFP John Horgan: It is too early to pass judgment on Fidel Castro

Things went wrong but Cuba is not an unredeemed failure

Card-carrying medical marijuana patients  at the first-ever cannabis farmers’ market in Los Angeles. Photograph:  Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images No good evidence for legalising medicinal cannabis

Bill as it stands will make drug legal for recreational use for everyone over age of 16

While the diverse group of immigrants, farmers, liberals, hippies and tiny Tories might sing together, there’s little harmony. Oliver Callan: Society as it really is on the Late Late Toy Show

The public sector, left wing, emigrants, farmers and elite all play their parts

Corey Lewandowski: Donald Trump’s former campaign manager comes from a group called Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. Photograph: AP Photo/Evan Vucci Frightened by Donald Trump? Wait until you see his staff

Many of his hires and advisers come from a shadowy corporate misinformation network

Paul Krugman, field-marshal of an American left, wailed of Trump’s voters: “I don’t fully understand this resentment.” Why don’t the poor blame the conservatives? Photograph: Getty Images Simon Jenkins: How liberals paved way for populism to emerge

T-shirts  for sale in a souvenir shop in Jerusalem. Israel’s “incredible” and “generous” offers to Palestinians have been repeatedly rejected, Donald Trump has claimed. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images Lara Marlowe: Trump’s Middle East policy left to Jewish relatives and friends

President-elect sees ‘peace’ between Israel and the Palestinians as the ultimate deal

Members of Act UP Dublin LGBT activist group protest outside the Department of Health in Dublin on the eve of World Aids day to highlight the rise of new HIV cases in Ireland.  Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA How can there be such thing as guilty or innocent HIV?

The beliefs that sadly make HIV shameful are the same that suggest sex itself is shameful

Rev Ian Paisley: how strange that so many people were so recently led by a man of such antique obsessions. Pope’s visit gives pause for thought for Paisley’s children

Protestants must reassess Paisleyism and his bizarre anti-papist rhetoric

The central focus should be to ensure our courts are presided over by skilled independent judges with the specialist legal knowledge, insight and common sense required. Photograph: Getty Images Alan Shatter: How to really improve the way we appoint judges

Much of the talk about reform is hyperbole, political posturing and attention seeking

Adolf Hitler addressing a military parade at a Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. Xenophobia and nationalism are  coursing through the world’s veins. Photograph: Hulton Archive Philippe Sands: The Nazis, human rights and me

‘Genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ remain real threats with advent of Brexit and Trump

Asked why Mitt Romney was up for secretary of state, a top aide quotes Trump as saying Romney “looks the part”.  Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters The ugly truth about Trump’s fixation with looks

US president-elect’s cabinet choices appear to be more about style than substance

President Michael D Higgins signs the book of condolence for former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill Kathy Sheridan: Michael D got it wrong on Fidel Castro

Our elected leaders should be less effusive about foreign leaders – living or dead

Fly him to the moon: Michael O’Leary, “Ireland’s leading altogether decent person”. Photograph: Alan Betson An Irish Trump? He's called Michael O'Leary

The Ryanair boss could sweep to power with help from complacent establishment

Theresa May: The article 50 process that ends with the UK leaving the EU begins with the prime minister notifying the Council of Ministers of the intent to leave. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images Ireland, do the UK a favour: refer Brexit to Europe

A legal decision that article 50 is revocable would allow for change of mind about leaving

Fr Joe McVeigh: “The most urgent need in our church is not for deacons or priests but for qualified catechists who would lead the people in reflecting on the scriptures” Fundamentalist Catholics are turning people off church in Ireland

We need a new kind of church that attracts those seeking social justice and care of the earth

President Michael D Higgins, signs the book of condolence for former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro, at the Cuban Embassy in Dublin with his wife Sabina and Cuban Ambassador Dr. Hermes Herrera. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times Give me Michael D’s measured take on Fidel Castro over Trump’s vitriol any day

Irish President was nuanced and balanced whilst his US counterpart was biased and vindictive

A pause for reflection during a memorial service and vigil at Birmingham Cathedral to mark 42 years since the IRA’s Birmingham pub bombings on November 21, 2016. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Birmingham families must be represented at new inquests

Exclusion of the many victims’ families undermines attempts to deal with the Troubles

The Houses of the Oireachtas will fund an area for use by the National Museum as a public exhibition space and funds will also be made available for the construction of a lift. Photograph: Alan Betson Why the National Museum will benefit from Seanad relocation

Suggestions of a ‘grab’ are inaccurate – integrity of museum will be protected

President-elect Donald Trump has killed Trans Pacific Partnership but may have to accept a 20 per cent rate of corporate tax. Photograph: Scott Morgan/Reuters US and UK moves on corporation tax pose serious challenge for Ireland

Efforts to keep Britain ‘open for business’ will test Irish policymakers’ mettle

Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn said injecting centres would “kill communities”. File photograph: Cyril Byrne You cannot decry public drug use and object to injecting centres

All Dubliners need to be provided for – hoteliers, councillors, and heroin addicts too

Fidel Castro might have eliminated illiteracy, but he closely controlled what books his citizens had access to. Photograph: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images Fidel Castro: tragedy of a revolution that turned sour

The late leader brought great social advances to Cuba, but with these came repression

Siobhán Powell (32), who suffers from Ring Chromosome 8, with her mother Johanne at their home in Fethard-on-Sea, Co Wexford. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons Family carers are being exploited by State

Carers expected to fill gaps in underfunded regardless of the cost to their health

Judge Maureen Harding Clark  suggested that the possibility of financial payment had influenced some women. Breda O’Brien: Why did so many women say they had symphysiotomies?

Sensationalist consensus may overlook one third of applicants who never had procedure

Catríona Crowe, the former head of special projects at the National Archive, has referred to “our depressing history of archival self-destruction”. Picture: RTÉ Diarmaid Ferriter: The State’s harmful ambivalence towards record-keeping

Ireland has long history of destroying documents and understaffing institutions

“Shane Ross was politically clever enough to spot the opportunity the last election was likely to bring to put himself at the centre of national politics.” Photograph:  Barbara Lindberg Stephen Collins: Shane Ross is Government’s Achilles’ heel

Independent Minister has behaved as if he is still a controversial columnist

 EU Council president Donald Tusk: “In my opinion, the only alternative to a hard Brexit is no Brexit.” Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA Paul Gillespie: European attitudes towards Brexit are hardening

Growing realisation that the fundamental principles underlying the EU are at risk

For years motor insurance companies cut their prices in the drive to try to win market share and now we are all paying the price.  Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA Wire Motor insurance prices will not change until claims costs fall

This is the challenge the Government faces but the industry must play its part too

Only the top 20 per cent of Irish households have a disposable income in excess of €60,000 and can be said to be “living the dream”. John McManus: Only one in five is living the Irish dream

Fair rewards are elusive and this creates a breeding ground for populist solutions

St Patrick’s Day in New York. “I think Irish people feel particularly affected by Trump’s rise to power, because the US, in many ways, is only down the road.” Una Mullally: US on edge of something awful – and may take Ireland with it

What happens when someone in your family starts going out with a psychopath?

Minister for Transport Shane Ross: struggling under the intense scrutiny and weighty responsibility that go with Cabinet membership. Photograph: Cyril Byrne Noel Whelan: Ross’s fixation on judges mere political posturing

Minister’s animated spat contrasts with low-energy departmental performance

Martyn Turner

Friday November 25th, 2016

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