Anna Frizelle from Sutton and Libby Behan from Sandymount, students of Loreto on the Green in Dublin 2, following the Leaving Cert English Paper 1 exam. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

As a teacher, I have always known how tough the exams are. Reform is overdue

Edward McManus of  Aontú poster:  a moderate party with a social justice agenda being ignored by the media. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Trump bluster mops up media coverage at expense of small social justice parties

Although grief and loss are universal, grief is still a deeply lonely place. Photograph: iStock

We often fail to recognise that grief can result from major losses other than death

Divorce is painful and costly on an emotional level but it also costs the exchequer a huge amount of money. People’s mental and physical health deteriorates.

Government embraces divorce when it should help low-conflict wedded couples

Yes campaigners during the abortion referendum count at Dublin Castle last May. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

If the trend continues, more than 5,000 preborn children will be dead

Aontú’s Peadar Tóibín. It helps that the party has a real vision for fairness in everything. Our country desperately needs an alternative to the establishment’s entitled stagnancy. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Voters who care about the right to life must send a message to smug pro-choice parties

Election posters in Dublin, May 2007. Such posters  are unsightly, intrusive and damaging to the environment. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA wire

Posters have downsides but online targeted advertising has serious drawbacks

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy. Photograph:   British Pakistani Christian Association

West often neglects anti-Christian bias, seeing them as unenlightened leftovers

 Notre Dame cathedral following the fire on  April 17th.  While Christians worldwide long for its  restoration, ultimately it will not have been saved at all if it becomes merely a ghost of a cathedral. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The cathedral touches the longing for something more in all of us. It must be rebuilt to honour the reason it was built in the fir(...)

People who know their history are far less easy to manipulate and are much less susceptible to propaganda in all its manifestations.

Educationalists marginalise history as a subject out of short-term utilitarianism

Expecting people to plump for a different model of school in the absence of any certainty shows a scary lack of insight by the Department of Education. Photograph: Christian Hartmann

Despite media messages, Catholic parishes are mainly benign presences in schools

‘GPs are already over-worked, highly stressed and leaving the profession in droves.’ Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

Doctors’ group is demanding members fall into line without expressing their concerns

Fibromyalgia is not a well-known illness and, until relatively recently, was often written off as a hypochondriac woman’s disease because it afflicts far more women than men. Photograph: Thinkstock

Fibromyalgia sufferers want the State to recognise the many costs associated with it

Lisa Smith from Dundalk (to right of taoiseach and Chief of Staff)  converted to Islam and moved to Syria. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Lisa Smith is emblematic of a problem facing many countries – how to integrate radicalised Muslims

French president Emmanuel Macron: wants an expansion of EU powers in exactly the kind of way that makes many Europeans feel alienated.  Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP

Breda O’Brien: Macron exemplifies elitist privilege that alienates people from EU

Pope Francis. “If the church is to have any credibility, it must be matched by radical, irreversible reform from the very top.” Photograph: Ettore Ferrari/EPA

Clerics in denial about abuse should learn from failures in Ireland and US

Anti-abortion protesters continue a vigil outside a Marie Stopes abortion clinic  in London. File photograph:  Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A UK council thinks women should be protected from people offering leaflets on abortion

Revenue has decided to slap VAT from March 1st at the highest rate of 23 per cent on probiotics. And on all health supplements, everything from fish oil to vitamins.

Supplements for gut health and macular degeneration not fair game for VAT hikes

“Not only are the Leaving Cert and Junior Cert/cycle exams an industry with offshoots, but so are the mocks.” Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Lack of exam system reform does not explain stress levels endured by students

'The idea that relationship and sexuality education can be delivered in an objective way that is free of values is absurd.' Photograph: iStock

The State wants to force religious schools to go against their ethos on the issue

Nick Sandmann, a student from Covington Catholic High School, stands in front of Native American Nathan Phillips, in Washington DC, last week. Photograph: Kaya Taitano/Social Media/via Reuters

A smirking American teen is treated as evil personified. Where were the adults?

Benedict, at a time of upheaval in the fifth and sixth centuries, established 12 monasteries, following a rule which emphasises work, stability, prayer and hospitality. Image: Getty Images/DeAgostini

Rod Dreher believes a sixth-century saint holds the key to strong Christian communities

A 2016 Iona Institure report found that unskilled workers are only half as likely as professionals to be married – 66 per cent compared to 32 per cent Photograph: iStock

If marriage is still an aspiration, the odds should not be stacked against working class

 Matt Murphy (85) (wearing spectacles) and Michael O’Sullivan (58) pictured after their wedding at the Registrar’s Office in Dublin. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Reaction to couple’s decision to marry to avoid inheritance tax does nothing to redress inheritance injustices for others

The World Meeting of Families at the RDS in August. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

This has been a terrible year for Catholics, but it has also offered a guide to the future

German chancellor Angela Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK): AKK, the new chair of the German Christian Democratic Union, has to put up with being tagged a mini-Merkel. Photograph: Filip Singer

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s promotion in Germany has highlighted lazy stereotypes

'Kate O’Connell's comments show the new, ugly mood, where only complete submission to the dominant ideological frame will be tolerated.' Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Fine Gael Deputy's triumphalist remarks in the Dáil on abortion are the new reality

Former Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín is beginning to establish a new political movement with a broad political platform. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

There is an appetite for change and Peadar Tóibín may be the politician to make it happen

Stormy Daniels arrives at a New York court for a hearing related to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney, in April. The title of  her recent Oxford Union talk was “Sex, Guns and Other Fluff: How porn can set you free.”Photograph: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Porn is so normalised Stormy Daniels made headlines for losing her luggage

Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron  in a replica of the wagon where the Armistice was signed in 1918, in the Clairiere of Rethondes forest, during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day. Photograph: Philippe Wojazer/EPA

Conflict-resolution networks required rather than European fighting force

Minister for Health Simon Harris referred to the proposal to ensure dignified disposal of foetal remains as ‘extraordinarily distasteful’. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

No pro-life amendments have been permitted in the legislation for terminations

Presidential candidate Peter Casey, “a man who had no problem kicking an already despised minority in Irish society”.  Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

The condemnation of Peter Casey’s ill-informed views was hypocritical

Parenting anxiety has never been higher and the irony is some anxiety can be traced to the social media that for many is a lifeline.

Social media sets unrealistic role models while State gives women scant support

Pope Francis blesses a portrait of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Photograph: Vatican Media/EPA

The archbishop was murdered because he wouldn’t compromise on the message of the gospels

‘Humans are notoriously bad at estimating future risk. This kind of thinking is fatal when it comes to climate change.’ Photograph: John Giles/PA Wire

Western culture is in direct conflict with the urgent need to take collective action

Photograph: Thinkstock

If doctors are legally bound to act against their conscience they will leave

Plans for the Central Mental Hospital site have potential to create a housing development focused not on the market but families. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Land agency’s reliance on market rather than social entrepreneurship is not radical

Minister for Health Simon Harris: should consider whether the Irish people voted for a culture where three days to think about an abortion is considered demeaning, but a fortnight to change your mind about a toaster is a good thing.  Photograph:  Gareth Chaney Collins

Three-day ‘cooling off’ deemed demeaning and freedom of conscience under fire

“We worry vaguely about the internet making us stupid, with good reason, but we scarcely address the undermining of democracy, which happens at a level much more subtle than fake news.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

We need more emphasis on philosophy and accountability, not more efficiency

Victims advocate Marie Collins (right) with Prof Gabriel Dy-Liacco of the  pontifical commission for the protection of minors (left) at  the World Meeting of Families at the RDS in Dublin last week. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ordinary Catholics are angry and in near despair due to the worldwide failure of the institutional Church to institute transparent(...)

Pope Francis. ‘It is very easy to see Catholic social teaching on the family and economy as idealistic, but there are people all around the world putting it into practice in their business and family lives.’ Photograph: Andrew Medichini/AP

Catholic social teaching seeks to change a world where profit is pursued at any cost

Rote learning: Without subject-specific facts committed to long-term memory, higher-order thinking is not possible.

It is absolutely wrong to say that memorisation has no place in education

Bishop of Stockholm Anders Arborelius, Sweden’s first cardinal, says young people in the country are open and curious about Catholicism.

Dazed and bewildered Irish Catholics should look to France and Sweden

Pope Francis reaches to hug prominent US archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick back in 2015:  McCarrick has resigned following allegations of sexual abuse. Photograph: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

Church and aid bodies wield corruptible power over vulnerable adults and youth

Government policy has two mutually contradictory aims: to increase the output of what might be called industrial-style farming while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Photograph: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

Our joy at sunshine must not blind us to lifestyles that cause agricultural disaster

Canadian author and acclaimed clinical psychologist Jordan B Peterson: has a poet’s (or Jungian psychologist’s) appreciation of the beauty and utility of story, music, art and transcendence, but is not a believer in the conventional sense.  Photograph: James Forde

Non-believers at 3Arena fill gap of spiritual hunger better than hardcore materialism

Adul Sam-on (right)    inside the Tham Luang cave. He can speak English, Chinese, Burmese, Thai and Wa. The latter is the language of the ethnic minority to which he belongs. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

If the children turned up on our doorstep in different circumstances, there would be little welcome

The Aquarius rescue ship enters the port of Valencia, where  630 migrants were allowed to disembark. Italy had refused to allow the Médicines Sans Frontières (MSF) search and rescue vessel to dock. Photograph:  AFP Photo

As the EU wrestles with migration, we should not forget the demographic crisis

Pope Francis blesses a child in Saint Peter’s Square: Irish Catholics  have to deal with  a kind of casual sectarianism that the cultural elite would find unthinkable in relation to Muslims. Photograph: Tony Gentile

Pope’s visit must energise Catholicism into a courageous, counter-cultural force

Our anxious nervous systems seem unable tell the difference between a potential sabre-toothed tiger in the long grass and not getting enough “likes” on social media.

Treated as mere consumers, we are forced into a cult of predictable values

Gregory Peck as attorney Atticus Finch, who says: ‘Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.’ Image: AP Photo

Anti-abortion medics feel threatened and fearful in a newly intolerant Ireland

 A crowd celebrates the Yes vote at Dublin Castle: “Two-thirds of the electorate voted to remove all rights before birth from the Constitution for the next generation and they did not blink.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Ireland’s heart now closed to those not deemed human enough for protection

Rossi Maloney (2) who featured on a No campaign poster after his mother, Emma Maloney, credited the Eighth  Amendment with saving his life after an unplanned pregnancy, holds a pro-life poster in Dublin, on Wednesday. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Either we become a State that nudges women into making life-ending decisions for their babies or we strive to care for both

Advocates for a No vote in a demonstration on Grafton Street in Dublin. Photograph:  Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Breda O’Brien: Having to travel dissuades many, and virtually none regret their living child

An anti-abortion poster in Dublin: people have real problems with abortion that cannot be wished away. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

We are heading towards abortion for Down syndrome if we do not retain the Eighth

This abortion referendum is not going to bring in abortion for cases of rape and incest or babies with life-limiting conditions. It is going to bring in abortion for women who need the compassion that honours our primal need to protect our children, not the grim provision of tablets to end a child’s life. Photograph: Alan Betson

Breda O’Brien: Voting for abortion is voting for despair and overt trust in HSE

Early intervention is vital for children with special needs. With funding cuts,  children with Down syndrome fall further and further behind with lifelong repercussions for levels of independence.

Government kicks legs out from under parents working on early-intervention scheme

‘Germany’s increased commitment to militarisation follows Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and perhaps Donald Trump’s bluster about ‘America first’.’

Dáil’s decision to join EU defence framework Pesco is an abandonment of our core values

Delegates Graham Fitzpatrick, Ed Platt, John Paul Phelan and Michael Weed call for equal pay for all teachers at the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation’s annual congress in Killarney. Photograph: Moya Nolan

Teachers are expected to remedy the ills of society while younger teachers must put up with unjust rates of pay

‘While schools cannot be expected to counter single-handedly a culture of exploitative sex, they can play some role in highlighting more positive and respectful attitudes.’

We must also teach children about developing mutually respectful relationships

“We worry about letting our kids play outside while subjecting them to what former Google employee Tristan Harris calls the greatest hijacking of human attention in history.” Photograph: iStock

Children are online at earlier ages and scarcely know spontaneous play outside

Leo Varadkar: those managing the Taoiseach’s image are engaging in clumsy attempted manipulation – without much success. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Breda O'Brien: Varadkar was known as blunt and capable. His handlers think that is so last century

“Flawed as it is, at least the stopwatch approach is measurable. And given that broadcasters, with a few exceptions, are sometimes already failing to be fair regarding the manner of questioning, how will removing the stopwatch help?”

Independent group should rapidly adjudicate claims of bias in abortion discussions

The Repeal the Eighth march in Dublin on Thursday, International Women’s Day. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Supreme Court ruling is a tragedy but one the people can overcome

 Housing crisis: there are human stories behind every statistic. Photograph: Frank Miller / The Irish Times

So-called vulture funds are seen as the obvious solution due to a flawed vision of the market solving all ills – but there are alt(...)

Focusing on religion diverts attention from the lack of resources that is crippling Irish education. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Anecdotally, the numbers opting out are tiny, but no one knows because no research has been done

Jordan B Peterson: “offering something other than ironic, hipsterish nihilism with a side order of avocado toast”.

Jordan Peterson’s stoical world view challenges tribalism of cultural Marxism

A Mabs office  in Dundrum, Co Dublin. File photograph: Aidan Crawley

Government is continuing its silence over the damaging restructuring row engulfing the service

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. ‘What does he mean by rare abortions?’ Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Our solution to the abuse and poverty of women cannot be ending young human lives

Many people with Down syndrome are well able to advocate for themselves. Photograph: Getty Images

Removing the Eighth Amendment will do nothing to increase supports for families

The way forward: Dublin City Council and Ó Cualann co-operative has built houses in Ballymun with a starting price of €140,000.

Co-operative models like Ó Cualann’s could banish misery of housing shortage

Posters in Dublin during the 2002 abortion referendum campaign. File photograph: David Sleator

Citizens’ Assembly should recommend a balanced and independent referendum body

Writer and thinker Alan Jacobs: one of his maxims is “wait five minutes”.

Committed to finding truth? Then ‘seek out the best representatives of positions you disagree with’

All those years ago, I felt a little bit sorry for Wendy, with her strange longing for shops on Stephen’s Day. Photograph:  Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/ Getty Images

Practice in danger of becoming another self-focused response that prevents us challenging skewed values

‘It is no surprise that increasing numbers of parents, devastated by a dreadful prognosis for their little girl or boy in the womb, choose abortion.’ Photograph: iStock

A first step to accepting violence towards others is use of dehumanising language

Palestinians burning Israeli flags at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound following the Friday prayer. Photograph: Faiz Abu Rmeleh/EPA

By recognising Jerusalem as Israeli capital, US president pleases few beyond his apocalypse-loving base

Washing up in Nairobi. Shalom works extensively in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, the biggest slum in Africa. Kibera is home to  250,000 of the 2.5m  slum dwellers in the city. Photograph: Getty Images

Shalom, devised by Fr Padraig Devine, carries out research into the causes of conflict

Silicon Valley is aware of the speed of the rise of artificial intelligence and robotics. They also know this is not the Industrial Revolution Part 2, where new forms of work will arise to replace the ones that industry made redundant.

As AI displaces people from jobs, its creators look to ways of taming people

Harvey Weinstein: Did his impeccable liberal credentials make it harder for women to accuse him of repellent behaviour? Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty

Consent is low bar in sexual relations amid repellent behaviour and dominance

Oxford  University. One sweet moment happened when a transgender woman said to me: “I am so sorry. This is not Oxford.” Photograph: Getty Images

Pro-choice students screamed to prevent anti-abortion speakers being heard

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service was founded by volunteers to address poverty and crippling indebtedness. Along with the Citizens Information Services, it is at risk .  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Drive to replace Mabs and CIS with 16 regional structures must be stopped

“The whole emphasis now will be on painting those who want abortion on demand, and those who want no abortion, as similarly extreme, and the fallacy of the middle ground will be trotted out again and again.”

Committee cannot now cast around for fig leaves by inviting anti-abortion advocates to address it

Budget 2018 would have looked entirely different and been much more just, if it were designed from a perspective of targeting the needs of children. File photograph: iStockPhoto

If Government had prioritised the good of children, this budget would look very different

‘Two young male students felt free to cut down and destroy posters advertising a meeting featuring the personal testimony of rape survivors and women born as a result of rape.’ File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The destruction of posters for Unbroken event goes against the principles of feminism

‘Varadkar has decided that the time has come to take  on Sinn Féin.’ File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Taoiseach’s calculated attacks have no guarantee of success in an era of political volatility

Research discovered that one of the greatest factors affecting survival for babies with trisomy 13 or 18 was whether it was discovered prenatally or postnatally. Photograph: iStock

An American expert says labelling such conditions ‘fatal’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy

Even George Orwell did not foresee how much people would covet devices in their pockets that track their every action and which attempt to abolish the concept of privacy in order to maximise commercial exploitation. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Adults have responsibilities. So put down that smartphone and listen to your children now

Marian shrine: Paddy Power seems to have a policy of carefully calibrated offence – although the village of Knock at night is surely a bit of a soft target. Photograph: Paul Sharp

Breda O’Brien: It’s easy to mock religion, harder to mitigate the curse of gambling

Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass at the Knock Basilica in 1979.

Meeting and possible visit of Pope offer Irish Catholic Church chance to revive

‘The alt-right have committed significant violence since the turn of this century, far more than the Antifa, but the opposition cannot stoop to the same kind of tactics and retain any kind of moral authority.’ Photograph: Edu Bayer/The New York Times

King and Gandhi remind us alt-right violence should never be met with violence from left

Elizabeth Moss (R) as Offred in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Photograph: George Kraychyk/Hulu

Horrors in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ reflect how surrogacy sees women as walking wombs

Kevin Myers. “What Myers said about the BBC’s best-paid women broadcasters was ill-mannered and offensive. But is the current controversy really a sacking offence?” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Kevin Myers is sacked only now but had said far worse about the Catholic Church

‘Previous generations, though just as loving and as full of grief when tragedy struck, had ways of understanding suffering that enabled them to bear it.’ Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Capitalism seems to have left us unable to deal with suffering in a meaningful way

Turkana women carry dead animals they lost due to a biting drought that has ravaged livestock population in nothern Kenya. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

African countries used to be on our radar because Aunty Kitty, the nun, was out there helping mothers deliver babies who would sta(...)

Des Hanafin: “His strong views were coupled with a tolerant and non-judgmental approach to individuals.” Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Extraordinary political career was driven by concern for weakest in society

In terms of academic achievement, our expectations of young Irish people are definitely lower than they were 50 years ago. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

England has gone for long, demanding exams; we have shortened ours dramatically

The young woman was in acute crisis and the psychiatrist judged that an abortion would not solve all her problems. This hints the crisis was not purely because of the pregnancy. It rarely is.

Outrage about detaining an expectant woman ignores possible consequences

A  Muslim woman holds a placard near the scene of the recent attack at London Bridge and Borough Market in London. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Religious literacy and willingness to have difficult conversations would be a start

This week alone, there was yet another damning report from Geoffrey Shannon pointing towards  a systemically flawed after-hours service for vulnerable children

As our past is systematically vilified, are we blind to the darkness in the present?

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday. Photograph: Evan Vucci/New York Times

Photo opportunities with pontiff do not equate to sharing his moral vision

More articles