Ballina, Co. Mayo artists Padraig ‘Smiler’ Mitchell and Leslie Lackey in September installed this mural of Biden in his ancestral hometown. Biden visited Ballina in 2016 as vice president. RTÉ photo.
The Republic of Ireland is set to begin easing second-round COVID-19 restrictions on Dec. 1, as Northern Ireland tightens measures to control the spread of the virus. “For months, public health officials have argued in vain that the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland should be coordinating pandemic restrictions, taking advantage of their island status as a natural barrier to disease. Instead, government leaders in Dublin and Belfast complain that they learn of each other’s divergent plans only through the media,” Politico.eu reported.
“Many whose attendance at church services before the pandemic was fragile will never return to public worship. … The post-pandemic church will look significantly different to the church we traditionally knew.” Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said in a mid-month homily at St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral.
A Belfast man was arrested in connection with the 1974 bombings of two pubs in Birmingham, England, which killed 21 people and wounded nearly 200 others. The IRA has been accused of the bombings. Six men were jailed in 1975, then released in 1991 when their convictions were overturned.
Ireland inflicts the ninth highest level of lost tax revenue on other countries around the globe–3.7 percent of total worldwide losses, or the equivalent of $15.83 billion, according to the first “State of Tax Justice” study compiled by Tax Justice Network.
A new freight ferry route will open Jan. 2, 2021, linking Rosslare, Ireland, and Dunkirk, France, bypassing non-EU member England, the Independent (UK) reported.
Paleontologists have found the fossilized remains of two Jurassic dinosaur species in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. These are the first dinosaur remains reported from anywhere in Ireland and some of the most westerly in Europe, says Sci-News.com.
Solas Nua, Washington D.C.’s contemporary Irish arts organization, named Miranda Driscoll as its interim executive director. She formerly served for five years as director/CEO of Sirius Arts Centre in Co. Cork. Watch her video message. These are challenging times for all non-profit arts groups, to say the least.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, invited to address Dáil Éireann (Ireland’s lower house) on its 100th anniversary, said “there will be no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement if the Brexit deal undermines the Good Friday accord.” Her trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland was overshadowed by the murder of Derry journalist Lyra McKee.
Over 122,000 people from 181 countries have become Irish citizens since 2011, including a group of 2,400 at the end of April, TheJournal.ie reported.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin made headlines in his interview with The Irish Times. “So many people have been damaged and the church has been damaged. It isn’t that this was an invention of anti or people to get at the church. It was a problem of the church.” Now 75, the prelate will be required to step down next year.
Aidan Regan, assistant professor at University College Dublin, wrote a piece in The Washington Post about how Irish tax policies to attract foreign investment are being questioned at home.
“Ireland’s challenge is to continue to build relationships in a volatile political climate,” Washington-based Irish journalist Colm Quinn wrote in The Irish Times. “If family ties are what is keeping the US-Ireland bond strong the question is whether there enough Irish-Americans coming through the ranks to sustain interest in the relationship?”
And two more views about contemporary Ireland:
“Illustrating what could be termed the First Great Law of History, namely the Law of Unintended Consequences, the specifics of the Brexit agreement may drive two uneasy political bedfellows—the Catholic majority of the Republic of Ireland in the south and the Protestant majority of Northern Ireland—into each other’s arms. As it reaches the centenary of its first historic declaration of independence from Britain, Ireland may be headed for unification—that is, full independence for all 32 Irish counties, including the six in Northern Ireland.” — From Could Brexit Unite Ireland At Last? in The American Conservative.
“Rather than promoting moderation and reconciliation, the Good Friday Agreement instead pushed Northern Ireland’s voters on both sides of the sectarian divide away from the center, and toward the extremes. … The Northern Ireland Assembly, a body created out of the Good Friday Agreement, which should be speaking out for its people’s interests, has not held a sitting for more than two years, its two biggest parties refusing to cooperate with each other. … An understandable frustration exists among Northern Ireland’s moderate unionists and nationalists at seeing their hard-won institutions taken over, and ultimately paralyzed, by hard-liners who questioned or opposed their creation.” From The Center Isn’t Holding in Northern Ireland in The Atlantic.
Oh, yea … the Brexit deadline was extended to Oct. 31 from April 12.
Nancy Pelosi addressing the Dáil. Photograph: Maxwell/The Irish Times.
… the numbers of faithful keep on falling, according to 2016 Census data released 12 October. A few of the details:
Catholics were 78.3 percent of the population in April 2016, compared to 84.4 percent five years earlier.
The percentage of Catholics in Ireland peaked in 1961 at 94.9 percent.
Ireland’s 3,729,115 Catholics in 2016 was 132,220 fewer than 2011, while the nation’s total population grew by 173,613.
People born outside of Ireland were 12 percent of the country’s total Catholic population, the same as 2011. It was 7.2 percent in 2002.
The average age of Catholics was 38.2, slightly older than the general population 37.4.
These numbers require more exploration and context. Growing secularism and diversity are part of the reason. Church scandals are another. One place to start is this 2013 piece by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin:
The causes of the crisis lie within the church itself. Much of the heritage of Catholic-dominated Ireland still entraps us from being free witnesses to the Christian message within a secular society that is seeking meaning. It is not a time to be lamenting; it is a time to be rising to the challenge with courage and Christian enthusiasm.