Tag Archives: Elaine Byrne

Irish culture of subservience

Two excellent articles in the Irish Times this week dealing with the Irish Catholic’s disastrous response to pedophilia,  and how our culture of subservience facilitates poor governance.

On Tuesday Elaine Byrne describes the ingrained culture of subservience we Irish learn from birth.  This culture of subservience gives us the Gombeen man, legislation for charity instead of rights, and a public administration which labels requests for transparency and accountability as a witch hunt.

Today Maureen Gaffney’s brilliant article discusses the Catholic Church and sex.  She describes the church as a homo social institution having “.. all the characteristics of the worst kind of such an institution: rigid in social structure; preoccupied by power; ruthless in suppressing internal dissent; in thrall to status, titles, and insignia, with an accompanying culture of narcissism and entitlement; and at a great psychological distance from human intimacy and suffering”.

Political Reform

Dáil Chamber

Dáil Chamber

I’ve become a bit of a fan of Irish Times columnist Elaine Byrne who writes on political decision making in Ireland.  She and colleagues from Trinity College organised the recent Political Reform Conference which asked the question ‘Are our Institutions Fit for Purpose? Political Reform in the Republic of Ireland’. 

This new Political Reform organisation is a very welcome development.  As a feminist – power and who has access to power has always fascinated me. 

Indeed one of the main reasons I joined the Green Party in 1989 was their policy on strengthening local democracy and making our decision making structures more transparent.  Twenty years on, and after five years serving as a City Councillor my conviction that we must constantly work to ensure that our decision making structures are completely transparent, accountable and representative is as strong as ever. 

Twenty years on we still see very low levels of women in politics, and are no further ahead in strengthening local government. 

Other areas of concern are raised by the Standards in Public Office Commission about where we need to improve how we monitor and police our decision makers.