‘Schools briefly experienced what it was like to have adequate funding during the pandemic, as the Government frantically threw money at the problem of keeping schools open. That funding is expected to dry up in the near future.’ Photograph: Andrej Cukic/EPA

Chronic underlying systemic problems a consequence of threadbare funding

Anti-abortion demonstrators outside the US supreme court, on Thursday. A draft ruling overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 case that guaranteed the right to abortion, was leaked this week. Photograph: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

Pregnant women need real choices so that abortion becomes unthinkable

 ‘It is equally important to hear the experience of people conceived through reproductive technology who are now adults, who believe passionately that no government anywhere in the world provides sufficient safeguards, and that therefore there is currently no such thing as ethical surrogacy. ’ Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

People conceived through surrogacy have something important to say about its ethics

Pope Francis launched a synodal process in May 2021 but the church hierarchy has in many cases failed to explain its purpose or engage the faithful in it. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Hope is springing from the grassroots through dialogue of small parish groups

Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys at Scoil Treasa Naofa primary school, Donore Avenue, Dublin 8, with newly arrived Ukrainian pupils Matvii Tishchenko and Mariia Nosenko. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Teachers from that war-torn country continue to teach, many online from around the world

No truly meaningful reform to the Leaving Cert will be possible until the stranglehold that the CAO and the points system have on Irish education is addressed. Photograph: Getty Images

Overhaul of senior cycle is long overdue but the devil will be in the details

McElhinney’s in  Donegal celebrated with an exhibition called ‘See Me’ in their Ballybofey shop windows. The tagline was ‘One More Chromosome to Love’.

Two cases before ECHR challenge idea of fast progress embracing genetic diversity

A man grieves over the body of a victim in Kyiv, Ukraine,  hours after pieces of a Russian cruise missile fell onto a high-rise building. Photograph: Lynsey Addario/The New York Times

Non-violent resistance is more successful than violence

If something is not trending on a social media platform, does it make a sound? File photograph: Getty

Younger people receive their information via social media – and that is deeply troubling

Making mask-wearing optional feels like a welcome step, but Covid-19 has triggered a relapsing syndrome, generally termed long Covid. Photograph: Alan Betson

For those with invisible illnesses such as fibromyalgia, the pain and worry continue

None of SVP’s work can  happen without lots of people giving freely of their time and expertise. Photograph: iStock

A heart in a heartless world is an apt description of St Vincent de Paul’s work

A  National Women’s Council event in St Stephen’s Green. “There is only one reason that a fuss has been raised about its exclusion of women politicians from Government parties from its rally (renamed as a protest) on March 5th. This time, they excluded powerful women.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Women’s council has no time for anyone unwilling to march in ideological lockstep

Third years were scarcely mentioned in 2021. But  in 2022, the assumption is that business as usual can be resumed.  Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Junior Cycle reform was under way and far from complete when pandemic hit

Appointing barrister Marie O’Shea without an e-tender process undermines and corrodes the democratic process. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Appointment of chair of abortion legislation review receives almost no scrutiny

Leaving Cert students start their first exam at Sutton Park School, Co Dublin, last year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Six-hundred points should be rewarded with more than a ticket to a lottery

Floral tributes and candles are left after a vigil outside the London Irish Centre in Camden in memory of Ashling Murphy. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Righteous anger should spur us to bring about change but also needs careful handling

The unrelenting stress endured by teachers over the course of the pandemic has frequently been ignored or dismissed. Photograph: EPA

Politicians take for granted gargantuan pandemic efforts teachers are making

When we incorporate the insight that we do not have bodies, but we are our bodies, our way of looking at the world changes.

Dignity and soul are innate to physicality be that frail, healthy, desirable or otherwise

‘You do not have to have emigrated to experience missing home. All you have to do is to move forward a sufficient distance through time.’ Photograph: David Sleator

Journey home can be painful for emigrants but also for those who never left

Jeff Bezos saw his personal wealth increase so much during the pandemic that he could have given all 876,000 Amazon employees a bonus of $105,000 and be as wealthy as he was pre-pandemic. Photograph: Paul Ellis/Pool/AFP via Getty

Oireachtas time is given to a lottery while our rotten system of inequality is ignored

Most of us recognise that decisions made in situations of high stress are often rushed and regretted.

Vital decisions need time yet many want to remove any delay impeding abortion

 ‘However big or small a threat that Omicron turns out to be, it appears vaccine hesitancy is a problem everywhere.’ Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Von der Leyen’s suggestion of mandatory vaccine will further alienate the wary

Ten thousand positive cases among those aged five to 12 were reported in the last fortnight. This translates to some 15,000 children self-isolating if you allow for siblings. Significant numbers of teachers are also either sick or self-isolating.

Society needs schools but we must not bury health risks in constructive ambiguity

Invisibility and neglect are the rewards for managing so well during the pandemic. Photograph: iStock

Education, including teacher supply, has been neglected in Ireland for years

A small boat of migrants makes it  ashore near the village of Skala on Lesbos in November 2015: The EU is guilty of cowardice and criminal neglect.  Photograph: Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times

Seán Binder faces trial for helping migrants survive dangerous sea crossing to Lesbos

COP26: ‘We could despair and say nothing we do has any relevance until the behemoths who are driving the climate catastrophe choose to change. Yet all successful social change begins small.’ Photograph: Emily Macinnes/Bloomberg

Spirituality and religion provide a kind of sustenance that allows people to change, even in halting, imperfect ways

Thomas Pringle TD outside the HSE-run disability services centre at Ard Gréine Court, Stranorlar, Co Donegal. Photograph:  Joe Dunne

Unless new behaviours are championed we will still be asking that question in 20 years

President Michael D Higgins declined an invite to attend the Northern Ireland Service of Reflection and Hope.

President’s refusal to attend NI service may have focused more attention on work for reconciliation carried out by the Church Lead(...)

Dublin’s Stella cinema: The success of the latest Bond film is a much-needed boost, showing that people are willing to return to cinemas. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Is the tentative recovery of movie theatres thanks to blockbusters or a more nuanced audience desire?

It should be possible to acknowledge that when faced with a challenge like a global pandemic for the first time in a century, no one had a script. It was impossible to get everything right.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

We must measure our real Covid-19 record without defensiveness or demonisation

An ex-policeman working for Facebook revealed that a brutal Mexican drug cartel was using Facebook and Instagram to recruit, train and pay hitmen

Breda O’Brien: Facebook does very little about the cartels and traffickers it hosts

Creating an offence of causing death or serious injury through dangerous sexual activity would demonstrate that strangulation is not just some private kink. Photograph: Alan Betson

Violence towards women during sex is just good old-fashioned misogyny

Well over half of primary school principals are teaching principals who teach a class all day and then do everything else. Photograph: iStock

Responsible for everything from drains to contact tracing, why would anyone want to be a principal?

Afghan evacuees arrive at Pristina International Airport in Kosovo last month: these families and individuals are refugees, not illegal migrants. Photograph: Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA

We must learn the lessons of history and show generosity to Afghans

Pregnant women who contract Covid-19 are 66 per cent more likely to need admission to intensive care, according to a British Medical Journal analysis. Photograph: iStock

Going to school has potentially catastrophic consequences that could easily be avoided

Gretchen Rubin’s world trots along on a predictable track, where life can be improved by one incremental strategy after another. Photograph: Marla Aufmuth/Getty

Being human is not a project with one self-improvement experiment at a time

Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Co Tipperary. Photograph: Alan Betson

Irish meitheal tradition has potential to help solve the crisis – with State support

Most people who attend or celebrate the Latin Mass are Catholics who are striving to be faithful not just to bits and pieces of Church teaching but to all of it. File photograph: Getty

Breda O'Brien: Pope's presumption of bad faith on part of those who attend the Mass is worrying

The woman with real influence in the White House is the first lady, Jill Biden. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Many of the US president’s signature proposals have long been priorities of his wife

The Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) (Foetal Pain Relief) Bill was sponsored by a group of 11 TDs proposing that the unborn child be given pain relief during late-term abortions. Photograph: John Mc Elroy

BAI upheld some complaints about radio coverage but there is a systemic problem

Byelections are platforms that increase a candidate’s  visibility, particularly when it comes to new parties. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Coverage of important democratic moments must reflect diversity

 Rebecca Price  and Patrick Kiely: The couple is calling for an independent inquiry to establish the full facts of what happened to them, how many other times this tragedy has happened, and for consistent implementation of standards to prevent it ever happening again.   Photograph: Collins Courts

Systemic failures at clinic leading to catastrophe must be fully examined

Leaving Cert students prepare for their first exam, English, at Sutton Park School in Dublin on June 9th. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

To reform the exams, let’s start with the Covid-19 concessions given this year

“China is at the forefront of academic research in many disciplines and the second-biggest economy in the world. The possibilities for collaboration would be exciting if the price tag were not selective blindness to human-rights abuses.” Photograph: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

Business-led utilitarianism and closer China links resulting from underfunding

‘The Leaving Cert always looms large in students’ minds but this year it filled the entire field of vision.’ File photograph: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Teachers fear exam results will be used to adjust accredited grades

It now appears “that pain can be supported by structures less advanced than the cortex, such as the brainstem, midbrain, and subplate that show clear evidence of maturity by 18 weeks’ gestation”.

People of goodwill must agree to relieving foetal pain with anaesthesia

Feminism’s ultimate objective  will remain incomplete until simply being a woman is not seen as abnormal. File photograph: Getty

Women are shamed for being women not only when it comes to menopause

Churches are beginning to think in terms of using online events in ways that foster real connections and community rather than passive consumption. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Loss of religion as lip service has opened opportunities to do things differently

‘Ireland has always had a propensity to institutionalise people who present difficulties or do not fit neatly into categories. That propensity is just applied to different categories of people today.’  Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

One example is older people being inappropriately placed in nursing homes

Removing any mention of parents actually weakens the Constitution’s challenge to corporate control of the shape of our working and childbearing lives.

Citizens’ Assembly rightly values carers but is letting economics edit out parental role

Online Mass: Now that virtually all older churchgoers are vaccinated, what is the excuse for the ongoing prohibition on church and other religious services?

State ban on public worship is unjust and labyrinthine regulations fool no one

The student  received a phone call from the medical school telling him that he had two options: take the AstraZeneca vaccine or be suspended from further training for a year. Photograph: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Despite having legitimate concerns, they were mocked and painted as anti-vaxxers

In The Chosen, Jesus is played by Jonathan Roumie, a Catholic who says his portrayal has been inspired by Pope Francis’s vision of mercy.

The Chosen bypasses entertainment industry with fresh dramatisation of Jesus

“Teachers seem to be regarded as education partners only in the sense of being relied upon to save politicians from angry parents who want the schools open and staying open.”  Photograph: PA

Time to treat pupils and teachers better if schools are essential to society

Large spaces between members of the congregation at the 10am Mass on Thursday at the Church of Our Lady of Consolation in Donnycarney, Dublin. Photograph: John McElroy

Access to worship should be restored long before Level 2

No one believes that robotics, automation and machine learning will not take human jobs. Photograph: iStock/Getty Images

Human greed for profit is more to be feared than artificial intelligence itself

Covid-19 has given us an increased realisation that there is no certainty when it comes to predicting death. Photograph: Marie Hickman

Conference hears providing for euthanasia inevitably leads to problems for vulnerable

The issue of paying student nurses and midwives (and indeed, student radiographers) has been driven to the forefront of our consciousness by coronavirus. Photograph:  Alan Betson

Paying student nurses and midwives would help solve recruitment and retention issues

DCU’s Anti-Bullying Centre  research found more girls (29.3 per cent) than boys (15.2 per cent) were asked to send a sexually explicit image.  Photograph: Getty Images

How to have a much-needed conversation about sexting with your children

A farsighted, imaginative government would have given Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance  room to breathe in a site like the Central Mental Hospital. Photograph: Alan Betson

Central Mental Hospital site should have been given to a body like Ó Cualann

The unelected, unaccountable Bill and Melinda Gates have power on a level without precedent in human history. Photograph:  Matthew Knight / AFP

Moronic conspiracy theories about Bill Gates wanting to microchip the world only detract attention from the vast, unaccountable po(...)

The new archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell, does not believe in the model of the lone ranger. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Problems are enormous but new archbishop has track record of being undaunted

US president Joe Biden leaves St Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

We have not advanced as far as we like to think in terms of religious tolerance

A health worker prepares to administer a Covid-19 vaccine to staff at a state hospital in Hyderabad, India, on Friday. Photograph: Mahesh Kumar/AP

Low-income countries are being sacrificed to secure vaccines for richer countries

The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary ran the Bessborough Home in Cork city for almost 80 years, during which time 923 infants died there. File photograph: Provision.

An inspector between 1922 to 1957, there are 447 references to her in the mother and baby homes report

The government needs to develop the ability to plan for best and worst-case scenarios. File photograph: Getty

The debacle this week in education shows a dangerous weakness in governmental planning for education

Beginning to plan  rituals now would be an acknowledgement of hope and resilience. Photograph: iStock

Planning rituals to acknowledge loss would be a sign of hope and resilience

One school of thought says that throwing a few bob into a collection box is more about salving people’s conscience than it is about meaningful change. Photograph: iStock

Without radical societal change, charity will always be inadequate

The business model of sites such as OnlyFans, which is essentially young women making and selling videos for men to masturbate to, is creepy and wrong. Photograph: iStock

Vlogger posting a video of her naked three-year-old self demonstrates the limits of this approach

Popw Francis. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty

Austen Ivereigh has produced an unusual collaboration with Pope Francis

Deputy Carol Nolan: Her parliamentary question revealed there is no national reporting service to record significant adverse outcomes, including hospitalisation, for women who are prescribed abortion medication. Photograph: Tom Honan.

Analysis of complications in women and trauma of foeticide specialists vital

Teaching and learning are based on communication and our brains are exhausted by trying to make up for the absence of more than half of our facial cues. File photograph: Getty

High time for a slightly longer break over the festive period as it would give everyone a lift

If Joe Biden wanted to make a real difference, he could call the bluff of both Republicans and Democrats, both of which claim to represent the working and middle classes and neither of which really do. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster

Democrats did badly in congressional elections as they are perceived as elitists in thrall to woke values

Amy Coney Barrett  is sworn in as a US supreme court judge as her husband Jesse Barrett looks on on the south lawn of the White House on October 26th. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

New US supreme court judge subjected to personalised attacks over family duties

The scene at the site of the fire that claimed 11 Traveller lives in Carrickmines in 2015. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Travellers and their concerns only seem to rise to surface of Irish consciousness when there is a controversy or tragedy

Why is despair in an older person treated so differently? Why is every other avenue, including gold-standard pain management and palliative care, not explored?

No compassion when those with terminal illness made wonder if they are burden

Macedonian schoolchildren have their hands disinfected on the first day of the new school year in Skopje. Photograph: Robert Atanasovski/AFP via Getty

Troubling studies from other countries suggest we might be behind the science

If the calculated grades delivered to the class of 2020 were a verdict in a court of law, they would be set aside as unsafe. Photograph: The Irish Times

Not only are the calculated grades a debacle, the Leaving Cert exams designed as an alternative are unfair, too

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was considered too tame and too incrementalist for the feminists of the 1990s.

They are lighting Ruth Bader Ginsburg votive candles now, but it could have been so different

Most people are unaware that FET courses already have better retention rates than higher education. File photograph: The Irish Times

Undervalued system offers lots of opportunities to progress to higher education in Ireland and abroad

Darknet offenders were quick to spot weaknesses in controls on the web during lockdown and to exploit them. Photograph: Bill Hinton/Moment/Getty Images

Lockdowns have led to weaker online oversight by tech giants and agencies

Henry Street: Mask-wearing is primarily about protecting others. A decent society should be willing to make sacrifices to protect others who are more vulnerable. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Face-coverings will be with us for some time. Be compassionate and use one

Senator from California and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris. In mid-August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Harris met with approval by Wall Street. Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

If you want to see America’s political future, you need to look back

If outbreaks are to be managed in schools the way they have been managed in nursing homes, direct provision centres and meat plants, there is little to inspire confidence. Photograph: George Frey/Bloomberg

As schools return, ongoing test delays will cause virus to spread unchecked

The funeral of John Hume at St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry. Photograph: Stephen Latimer/Getty Images

Church is still living off a legacy of being a much stronger cultural force

Young people’s mental health will suffer if schools remain closed, never mind their education. Photograph: iStock

Getting schools open is a nightmare but remaining open is the bigger challenge

The Department of Education is entitled by law to compel schools to create special classes for autism.

Everyone agrees that children with autism have a right to education. Underfunded, overcrowded schools need significant investment (...)

A re-education camp for ethnic Uighur in Hotan, in China’s Xinjiang province. Photograph: Gilles Sabrié/The New York Times

China’s re-education camps and its persecution of religious organisations rival dystopian fiction

Christopher’s parents want to know where the tragedy of their son appears in the abortion figures. File photograph: Getty Images

Christopher was aborted on grounds of fatal foetal abnormality, although perfectly healthy

Emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an opportunity to explore different ways of working. File photograph: Getty Images

Incoming government needs to address our destructive long-hours culture

If we want to protect generations to come, one possible vaccine for the environmental crisis is learning some lessons from the current one, if only for the sake of our children’s children. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Climate change remains an abstraction for many in Ireland, but not for those suffering in Africa

One of the key reasons for going back to school is to resume productive interaction. Social distancing will make pair work and group work almost impossible.

Principals need guidance and funds to help pupils as social distance rules likely to shift

President Donald Trump holds a Bible outside St John’s church in Washington, DC, on Monday. Part of the church had been set on fire during protests the previous night. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Bible was never meant to be used as a way of signalling to a target demographic

Those students who choose or are able to go on to further education will enter institutions radically affected not just by the pandemic but by a decade of underfunding.

Even when results are out, uncertainty will not cease for those leaving school

In a new documentary Norma McCorvey says that she was always pro-choice and that she was paid by the religious right to make anti-abortion statements. Photograph: Reuters/Shaun Heasley/File Photo

Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe of Roe v Wade was exploited by elements of both sides

This year’s Leaving Certs  have been battered by the backwash of the pandemic. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

This year’s Leaving Certs have been the focus, but incoming sixth, third and first years also need concern and planning

Seán O’Rourke, who retired from RTÉ this week. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Broadcaster showed rare understanding of centrality of religion in people’s lives

Last Sunday, the annual Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock, including a Youth pilgrimage, took place with people staying at home – 11,257 of them. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Rather than being in opposition to real community, virtual experience fosters it

A sign in relation to Covid-19 stands at the entrance to a nursing home in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Neglect of nursing homes during coronavirus pandemic has had disastrous results

Irish students might think predicted grades are the best solution until they get the results. If they feel they are unfair, what then? Photograph: Peter Thursfield

Global pandemic prohibits easy answer to question of when to hold final exams

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