For many decades after the establishment of the twenty-six county state in the south of Ireland in 1921-23, the Catholic Church, both directly and indirectly, wielded vast power in the state and in civil society. Even well into the 1980s it was able to mobilise followers in referenda that prevented divorce being made available and abortion being made available. However, despite this apparent highwater point for conservative social attitudes, the wider society was already changing significantly. Exposure of child abuse by priests and nuns – ranging from physical beatings to rape – undermined the Church’s pretence to the ‘high moral ground’, while new generations supported expanded personal freedom. In the past two decades, the religious right has lost battle after battle and look likely to lose on the same-sex marriage issue. Yet there is now a post-religious right which, while actively supporting issues like same-sex marriage is carrying out an utterly vicious assault on working class living standards.
Speaker: Dr Philip Ferguson
(Phil was a Sinn Fein activist in Dublin from 1986-1994, when he left because he disagreed with the direction the leadership of SF/IRA were taking. He is currently a member of Clann éirígí and he blogs at: https://theirishrevolution.wordpress.com/)