‘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

Cardinal George Pell was acquitted of charges of historical child sex abuse by the high court in Brisbane, which quashed his previous six-year prison sentence on appeal and ordered his immediate release from jail. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/EPA

Quashing of Cardinal Pell conviction underlines need for safeguards

Pope Francis giving the Urbi et Orbi blessing on March 27th at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Photograph: Vatican Media/AFP via Getty

The Pope praying before an empty square will linger as an image of this pandemic

Remote learning is now demanding that teenagers spend many hours in front of screens. Photograph: iStock

Teens are being actively encouraged to spend hours a day on screens. How do we keep a balance?

Given that some people are worried about whether they will be alive at the end of the Covid-19 outbreak, a change in exam conditions begins to take on its proper significance.

Minister’s announcement to award full marks for orals and practicals has caused shock

Jean Vanier abused women who came to him for spiritual direction, an egregious crime.

In the midst of such darkness, how can one find the light?

Demonstrators take part in a global youth climate action strike in Barcelona, on Friday. Photograph: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Breda O’Brien: Young people are paralysed with fear about the planet, and we must take action

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, and the party’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald, with a street trader in Moore Street in Dublin, on Monday. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

The general election was won by outsiders who know how to listen to the excluded

Early-childcare providers, educators and parents took part in a protest in Dublin on Wednesday calling for greater government investment in the sector. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Social engineering caused by tax individualisation has come at a heavy cost

The Taoiseach with Senator Catherine Noone. ‘She made outrageous statements about Leo Varadkar being autistic and tried to make it better saying she did not mean it literally.’ File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Public funding and media visibility stack the deck in favour of ensconced political parties

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín: party has raft of pro-family policies encompassing everything from housing to regional development. Photograph: Tom Honan

Aontú offers pro-family policies to bring much-needed real change to Irish society

Junior Cycle reform was under-funded and the same is likely to be true of the Leaving Cert.

Breda O'Brien: Education will only become an election issue if voters choose to make it one

Qassem Suleimani: killed in US drone strike in Baghdad. Photograph: EPA

We should question the morality of killing any person, even those supposed to be evil

Dark: Even though the series is set in a town, everybody walks, runs or drives through the forest at least twice a day.

Episodes of Dark can make you notice stark German and Irish cultural differences

Advertising storm: Adoring middle-class wife gazes in reverential rapture upon her husband – the Peloton bicycle gift-giver.

Allegedly sexist commercial unwittingly reveals phenomena far worse than the offence

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has been a disaster, not just because of this dismal electoral result but because of a complete inability to read the public mood. Photograph: Getty Images

Research reveals two tribes who intensely dislike each other, and who are not terribly informed about each other

In rare cases, a non-detected twin with a genetic condition may have died in the womb and the test picks up that DNA, not the living twin’s.

Limitations of non-invasive, pre-natal testing are ignored by opinion-formers

The plight of Christians in Pakistan illustrates some of the reasons why the West should care about Christian persecution. Photograph: iStock

Secular institutions need to end their neglect of 245 million Christians who face extreme persecution

Fine Gael election candidate Verona Murphy. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Between extremes of open borders and xenophobia, there is a generous Ireland

‘However inadvertently, by citing Wojtyla in this way to make this point, Dr McAleese attributes to the author the very opposite position to the one that he holds.’ Photograph: Tom Honan

Former president should say she never intended to imply Pope John Paul II endorsed marital rape

Some adults are not willing to admit there is any downside to pornography, even as it normalises violence in sexual relationships and becomes progressively more misogynistic.

Ethical porn is doomed. Child protection needs legal and cultural change

The Vatican criticised the theft from a church and discarding in the river Tiber of statuettes representing a pregnant naked woman. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

The Amazon synod focused on the wrong solutions to very deep problems

An anti-abortion activist demonstrates outside Parliament Buildings in Belfast on Monday during a special sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty Images

Sinn Féin and DUP show abortion ranks higher than nationalism or unionism

A total of 7,429 children and teenagers are waiting for appointments with a public-health psychologist. Photograph posed by a model: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Chronic underfunding and understaffing need to be addressed

Cardinal John Henry Newman ‘ministered patiently to the poor immigrant Irish in his care in Birmingham’. Photograph: AP/Catholic Church

Prelate failed to establish a Catholic university and Irish education is the poorer for it

The emergency department at St James’s Hospital in Dublin: “a different sort of purgatory, a grim one with security personnel and an air of healthcare professionals stretched to breaking point”. Photograph: Alan Betson

Do we have Stockholm syndrome that makes us accept appalling conditions?

Dr Wim Distelmans took a study group to Auschwitz. He said euthanasia is killing out of humility and unconditional love and he wanted to study a place where killing took place for the opposite reasons. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty

Medical killing is motivated not by love but cold functions of sexism, ableism and ageism

A smart board replaces blackboard and chalk: if a child is interested in planes, that interest should be nurtured with toy planes, books about planes, binoculars and aviation posters. Photograph: Eric Luke

Puny capitation grant deprives children of materials and forces staff to fundraise

The late Fr Tony Coote. His ‘Walk While You Can’ across Ireland brought people out in droves to cheer on this vulnerable and yet somehow indomitable priest. Photograph: Dave Meehan

We now draw a distinction between the deserving and undeserving believers

Activating our empathy may be a potent antidote to that learned helplessness, says Breda O’Brien. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

The complicated ethics of trying to live sustainably cause some of us to just give up

Sixth year students at Muckross Park College on their last day of school alongside nuns: The convent is irreplaceable. Photograph: Carl O’Brien

Far from corrupt religion, these nuns inspired as strong female role models

British  prime minister Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street. Modern Britain is a society in deep trouble if Johnson’s pattern of serial infidelity is now the norm in the UK. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

British prime minister’s living arrangements are modern sexism, not progress

Two in five under-16 children surveyed in the UK never told anyone about the worst thing that happened to them online. Photograph: iStock

Parents can unwittingly allow children wander in a treacherous online world

The Assisted Human Reproduction Bill includes provisions covering sperm, egg and embryo donation, surrogacy, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), embryo and stem cell research and posthumous assisted reproduction.

Committee prioritises doctors and academics over donor-conceived people

“In comparison with the rest of Europe, Irish people are still far more religious.” Photograph: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

Christianity is no bulwark against new tribal identities dominating discourse

Smartphones: We blame teenagers for their addiction but parents are often just as addicted. We call it work.

Technology giants wean us on their apps and glowing screens. It is time to take action

A panel has been appointed to review the termination at the  National Maternity Hospital. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Panel to examine abortion on grounds of alleged fatal foetal abnormality

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

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