Church And State

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vincent'sdan

From top: St Vincent’s Hospital; Dan Boyle

Redress goes both ways.

Dan Boyle writes:

The construct of religious control and management of social services in Ireland was a British one. After Catholic Emancipation, church authorities were happy and willing to be the administrative arm of the British government, in seeking to provide key social services.

The model fit well with the dominant political philosophy of the time, that charitable and voluntary provision helped to minimise State involvement.

With the arrival of the new aristocracy of the Irish Free State, seeking to develop a new State on scant resources, there was instant acceptance to continue this arrangement.

For the church authorities, the tools of care and welfare soon began to be recognised by them as useful means of social control. Against that education and health care was being provided that otherwise would not have been.

The State, since 1922, doesn’t seem to have been in any hurry to secularise our social services. A demonised Church sometimes has been a useful means of deflecting blame from the political system.

An example of this would the Mother and Child controversy of 1951, where the role of Archbishop John McQuaid (an undoubted charlatan) was exaggerated to obscure the real villains of the piece, the Irish Medical Association with its campaign designed to protect the private practices of its members.

There is a bill that has to be paid for the use, management, and provision of facilities/services, from the State to these religious groupings for the period since 1922. Set against this should be the ownership of any building or facility built solely with use of taxpayers’ money.

This won’t be straightforward, as many of these facilities have been developed with resources other than State funding. Any settlement will also have to take this into account.

Redress is something that we’ve gone a long way towards addressing, even if a considerable journey still remains. The ultimate responsibility for abuse remains with the perpetrators. Religious organisations who shielded the abusers need penalising, with the full implementation of such penalties.

However in terms of the costs of redress, the State continues to bear a huge responsibility, as it has been the State that created the risk for abuse victims, through farming out their care to third parties.

To secularise our social services requires a lead in time. Management of schools and hospitals will have to be changed. For the sake of continuity the State should be appoint some religious representatives to these management structures, to make use of their acquired experience.

The sum to achieve full secularisation is not just weighing unpaid redress against the cost of new facilities. Religious groups, who have provided social services since before the inception of the State, should be paid for having done so.

Is that a price we are willing to pay?

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

56 thoughts on “Church And State

  1. ollie

    “This won’t be straightforward, as many of these facilities have been developed with resources other than State funding. ”
    I think Dan that you will find that The nuns made their money from human trafficking and slavery, is this then grounds for the state to seize all religious property? Maybe CAB need to get involved?

  2. mildred st. meadowlark

    Oh Dan, you tread dangerous waters here. Or are you just being contentious for the sake of it?

  3. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Religious groups, who have provided social services since before the inception of the State, should be paid for having done so.

    Ehhhhhhh, no. Just no.

  4. Daisy Chainsaw

    Rubbish. Religious orders have controlled education and health for too long and they need to be removed immediately, or the creeping blight of religious interference will continue in our schools and hospitals where they put women’s health and lives at risk.

    1. nellyb

      Right on. “Religious orders have controlled education…” – they still do. Deductive reasoning is barely present in school curriculum (,though got better,) while it should be the CORE skill.

  5. JIMMYJAMES

    So the state need to pay the church authorities for turning a blind to decades their of abuses?

    Sounds about right doyler. Where do I send my cheque, will it be taken directly from my wages, do I get penalised for excessive non believing, can I get a reduction if I can prove the amount of 20 punt notes my grandmother threw in the collection basket every second sunday.

    This Sh!te is on par with Countdown’s tea time teaser.

    Sling yer hook.

    1. mildred st. meadowlark

      Janet, we all are (barring those heathens down the road at the Protestant school) and I don’t think it quite justifies the waft of bullshish off this article.

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        Also I’m still not sure how I feel about your mad, mad sandwich preferences.

  6. MoyestWithExcitement

    “Management of schools and hospitals will have to be changed. For the sake of continuity the State should be appoint some religious representatives to these management structures, to make use of their acquired experience.”

    Why are you talking like that’s as complicated as open heart surgery? People are replaced in management jobs every day. It’s not a big deal and it doesn’t require a “lead in time” of more than a couple of months.

    “the State continues to bear a huge responsibility, as it has been the State that created the risk for abuse victims, through farming out their care to third parties.”

    The same third parties that you say we should be giving our money to?

    “Religious groups, who have provided social services since before the inception of the State, should be paid for having done so.”

    Do we have unpaid bills with them or something or have they already been paid for the services they already provided?

  7. bisted

    …Dan’s analysis is usually a bit convoluted but this is plain warped…just listened to Ronan Mullan on radio and he would be proud of this piece…

  8. Sheik Yahbouti

    Would I be right in thinking that religious who were Teachers and Nurses were paid salaries, the same as lay staff? That they had to hand their wages up to Mammy Church is irrelevant.

  9. By Popular Demand, Frilly Keane

    spoken like a Politician
    albeit failed

    ya never lost it Dan

  10. nellyb

    as highlighted : “However in terms of the costs of redress, the State continues to bear a huge responsibility”
    ‘State’ is TODAY’s taxpayers, Dan, the PAYEEs. These PAYEEs are already contributing into healthy private portfolios of politicians and senior clergy – lands, rents etc.
    Are you being coy, myopic or … what? I tell you to take a hike, you’re not saddling me or any of my with their bills.

      1. bisted

        …sorry to be the one to break this to you nelly but you are already paying Dan’s Seannad pension and you or your family will be paying his TD pension…just hope he doesn’t have a road to Damascus moment before retirement age…

  11. Nigel

    I think this versions or d8delines the fundamentally corrupt and criminal nature of the relationship between the sat and these institutions. We can reform the state. The institutions can reform themselves but we are under no obligation to do anything other than divest all connections and take control of all responsibilities. We don’t owe them trust, respect or deference. We owe their victims the full backing of the state to obtain justice, redress and clear blue water between the state and those institutions. Anything else is a fudge.

    1. Nigel

      I spent so much time typing this into my feckin phone I can’t remember what ‘versions’ or ‘d8delines’ were supposed to be.

  12. Cian

    “Religious groups, who have provided social services since before the inception of the State, should be paid for having done so.”
    It’s not like the Vatican pumped billions of dollars into Irish education and health services, and shipped thousands of foreigners into Ireland. It was Irish priests, brothers and nuns that gave their time. It was Irish lay people that supported the brothers and nuns financially and otherwise. There is no debt.

    1. Ivor

      Does their nationality make a difference? It seems to be that Dan’s argument is that members of a private organisation provided services vital to the state that the state could not have provided to the same extent if they operated them directly i.e the State benefited from the situation. Does it matter if the private organisation raised its funds in Rome or Ranelagh?

      1. Cian

        Ivor, I didn’t express my point well, nationality doesn’t really matter except when we talk about ‘the State’. I am using the wider sense including both the ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ – both government and citizens; so in that sense the nationality of the citizens does matter – and I was glossing over non-nationals who are part of ‘the State’.

        I’ll try again:
        If a private organisation provides a service in a country – and no one within the State contributes to the organisation – then the State would owe a ‘debt’ to that organisation.

        However, if a private organisation provides a service in a country, and the State DOES contribute to organisation (through official funding of building a school, or paying wages and/or the citizens donating their own time/money), and the private organisation doesn’t use any of its own resources, then the State would NOT owe a debt to the organisation.

        Take an example: there is a fund raising arm in St Vincent’s Hospital (http://www.stvincentsfoundation.ie/): Most people who choose to donate to this are doing so to “contribute to patient care, research & education”. However are actually donating to the nuns. and its the nuns that are “contributing to patient care, research & education”.

        If I donate €100 to this, does the State then owe the nuns another €100?

        1. Ivor

          That’s a bit clearer but I’d take issue with the notion that when citizens of the state contribute funds or time to a private organisation, the Official State can take credit for it. I’ve donated services and money to individuals and groups over the years for services the State should have provided. The State can feck off if it thinks they’re going to take credit for those actions. On the other hand, the private organisations I collaborated with probably can take credit.

          When members of the RCC gave money to the RCC (as charity), they did so as private citizens. In the context of discussion Dan started about “owing” the church a debt, I think that dismissing the services – and enhancements to services – that the church provided using private donations is a mistake. If a Catholic order uses private donations to operate a food bank, the government or Official State does not get to take credit for it because Irish citizens contributed to it privately.

          There are probably Irish people who once donated money to RCC charities etc. that enabled those services and who now regret it given some of the abuses that occurred and resent the idea that their government might be thought to “owe” the RCC a debt because of the contributions they made but that’s another story. Short of it is that buyers’ remorse is a common thing. If you got shares in Eircom and lost money on them, you can’t turn around and say that your company doesn’t owe anything for their telephone bill because you funded the phone provider. A service was still provided.

          On the other hand, I think that where the government and Official State fund schools etc. through networks of patrons and boards of managements, we need to make sure they are held liable when these service providers abuse their power and the state fails in its duty to provide oversight. These networks allow the state to limit its liability which means they are less motivated to regulate them or fund them properly. If the service provider cuts corners because they are underfunded, it is not central government who are at a financial risk.

  13. DubLoony

    Should be paid? what?
    The state paid for Vincents, the state is paying for the new maternity hospital, the state paid for hospital staff.
    If religious gave up their salaries to their order, that is their business but the state, us, have paid.

    It doesn’t do anyone any favours to lay entire blame for any one group. As Dan points out, the protection of private practice by doctors is as much a problem as state abdication of responsibility.

    We’re growing up as a country, we don’t have to go with old models.

  14. Sheik Yahbouti

    By the way, Dan, I would normally be a sport about your articles. However, this is such arrant nonsense that it has been rightly panned. Shameful.

  15. Dan Boyle

    Quite the Pavlovian response. I’m eriting this from the perspective of someone who wants secularisation, realising that achieving it is far from simple. There has been capital investment that hasn’t involved State expenditure. If treated like a Public Private Partnerships, which I have little time for, private sector third parties would receive payments. There is too much fantasy politics at play on this issue – an inability to distinguish between what we would like to see happen and how it is possible to bring it about.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “an inability to distinguish between what we would like to see happen and how it is possible to bring it about”

      Come on.

      “Religious groups, who have provided social services since before the inception of the State, should be paid for having done so.”

    2. Sheik Yahbouti

      “Pavlovian response”, Dan? Is that directed to me? I invite you to confront and absorb the unhealthy relationship between Church and State that you have alluded to. We owe these people NOTHING, Dan – absolutely nothing.

      1. Dan Boyle

        Some responses are less considered than others. I’ve received the response I’ve anticipated. I’ll continue to believe that any big bang approach will be followed by years of litigation. It isn’t about the lack of political will, even though that does exist. It’s about constitutional and legal constraints.

        1. By Popular Demand, Frilly Keane

          thats not as true as you think

          the HSE can withdraw their service agreements for starters

          1. Dan Boyle

            One where every health or educational facility make recourse to courts to tease out individually the constitutional grey area of which area of rights weighs heavier, that of private property or the common good. The quickest way to secularism is by way of a general settlement.

        2. Ivor

          Come on Dan! This is Broadsheet. The automatic response is that the RCC is the monster responsible for all of Ireland’s failures.

          It’s not that the RCC was not, in several important areas, responsible for certain poor practices and tragedies, but what people seem to ignore is that many/most of those practices had popular support from the Irish public.

          If schools etc. had been state run, there’s no evidence to suggest they would have been more enlightened. You could argue that Irish people’s values were influenced by the institutional Church (and you’d be right to an extent) but while the Irish church (and its component parts) was promoting Victorian values during​ the 50s and 60s, Liberation Theology was becoming popular in Latin America. We got a version of Catholicism that sold well.

          If we want the state to stop outsourcing the provision of important services to religious and other third parties, we need to remove the financial incentives to the state. They need to be made liable or largely liable for damage done in schools, hospitals etc. Blaming individual BOMs needs to not be an option.

    3. Nigel

      It isn’t about what’s possible, it’s about the complete lack of political will to make it possible.

  16. Turgenev

    Yeah, let’s pay the rapists and their bosses who shifted them from parish to parish; the brothers who lashed little boys and the sisters who tore the hair out of little girls and kept women prisoners, and the priests who drained money from poor parishes and bullied parishioners. Yeah, of course that would be right. Right.

    Dan, whatever you’ve been smoking, I don’t want any of it.

    1. ollie

      You forgot to mention the nuns who held young girls as slaves, and who sold babies to anyone with money, regardless of their ability as parents.
      Some of these nuns are still alive, it makes me sick

  17. Amorphous Kerry Blob

    Does the former Green Party TD write about Climate Change; or has Bodger politely asked him to not really focus on it that much?

  18. Ger

    Dan Boyle regarding the roots of the present largely denominational character of Irish primary education, you maintain it arose from the church being happy and willing to be the arm of the British government: in fact the act of 1831 which set out to establish a system of national schooling failed because it was seen as a tool of colonial assimilation and the church set up schools in opposition to the government. Liberal philosophy of the time supported the move and denominational education continued to be widely supported by nationalists in the Free State and became embodied in Article 42 of the Constitution, the principles of which are also in the European and international Conventions on Human Rights. This Article has been challenged once in the courts in 1998 – unsuccessfully. It is worth bearing in mind that Protestant schools have the same rights and autonomy as Catholic schools as indeed do Muslim schools and the one Jewish school. According to Article 42 every parent has the right – and the State has the requirement to facilitate that right – to educate their children intellectually and morally as they deem fit. Therefore, the onus is on theState to provide the appropriate schools for those of no religion – 10% according to the most recent census – and allowing the remaining big majority to continue in their existing schools.

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