Thursday, March 31, 2005


Thursday Thoughts:Play the Morality Card?

There was a very interesting post by Pete Baker over at Slugger O'Toole on March 23, which focused on a study by The Economic And Social Research Institute in the Irish Times.What I found particularly interesting was the piece by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times Religious Affairs Correspondent, who writes on attitudes towards "family and sexuality" throughout the island:

"It is on issues of family and sexual morality that Catholics and Protestants on the island find most common ground.Both have deeply held views against abortion, with opposition highest among regular Church attenders.

"Where most family/sexual morality related issues are concerned, Catholics and Protestants on the island have "experienced a substantial shift towards the liberal positions common in most European countries.[emphasis added]

"But the family is still as highly valued as in the past, and marital infidelity is still widely disapproved of.

"The study concludes that on all the major issues, the Republic and Northern Ireland, and Protestants and Catholics within both parts of Ireland, are closer to each other than to most other national popualtions in Europe.

"It was particularly notable that Northern Ireland as a whole, and Protestants within Northern Ireland, are quite at a remove from Britain on these issues".[emphasis added]

These are interesting findings but what I found most interesting was the comment by Slugger contributor Billy Pilgrim:

"We had an American poster - I think it was Millie - who suggested a while back that the reunification argument should look to George W Bush's example and bring "moral issues" into the debate.

"She made the point that the family unit is still strong in Ireland - north and south, Catholic and Protestant. She also stressed that this strong emphasis on family, while broadly shared across the island of Ireland, has been in a long-term process of change in Britain.

"Whether this is good or bad is up to yourself, but it may potentially be a new issue within the reunification debate: family-friendly Ireland, contrasted with the more individualistic "there's no such thing as society" Britain."

I think this is a very valid point and one that should not be dismissed. There are similarities in the values and ideals that are held by the Irish people north and south of the border.Could this be a useful thing to highlight in the reunification debate? Should we play the morality card?


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