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

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’

More articles