Brexit prompted opening of NZ embassy in Ireland

New Zealand has just opened an embassy in Ireland. This was prompted by Brexit.

Winston Peters:  New Zealand opens first embassy in Dublin

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters officially opened New Zealand’s first resident embassy in Ireland at a ceremony in Dublin today.

“Ireland and New Zealand are already close friends but our new diplomatic post will strengthen connections and further develop the relationship. As small island nations committed to democracy, the rule of law and free and open trade, we look forward to working well together,” said Mr Peters.

Today, Mr Peters met with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, and also visited the Irish National Stud and The Curragh to discuss racing industry issues. While in Dublin, he will also meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, and will deliver a speech at the Irish Institute of International and European Affairs.

“The embassy in Dublin will also foster New Zealand’s trading interests in Europe,” said Mr Peters.

“New Zealand has a lot at stake in its relations with Europe and people on the ground in Dublin makes sense as Europe’s architecture evolves, following the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU,” he said.

Trade between Ireland and New Zealand is growing. It was worth $509 million in the year to June 2018.

New Zealand’s first resident Ambassador to Ireland is Mr Brad Burgess.

Speech by Peters: Opening of New Zealand Embassy in Dublin, Ireland

This follows the opening of an Irish embassy in Wellington: Embassy of Ireland, New Zealand

And the appointment of an Irish ambassador to New Zealand in August: Ireland’s first Ambassador to New Zealand appointed (Newshub):

Ireland’s first Ambassador to New Zealand, Peter Ryan, has been appointed at a ceremony at Government House in Wellington.

“I am deeply honoured to have been given the privilege of representing Ireland as the first resident Ambassador to New Zealand. In taking up the role, I am conscious that we are indeed fortunate to enjoy special ties of kinship and history with New Zealand and with the many New Zealanders of Irish heritage,” Ambassador Ryan said in his speech.

“I am particularly mindful today of the rich contribution of generations of Irish women and men to the development of New Zealand, and their love of both countries.”

The opening of new Embassy in Wellington was first announced by Irish President Michael D. Higgins during his visit to New Zealand in late 2017.

So a new era in diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Ireland.

Catholic Church abuses under increasing scrutiny internationally and locally

Pope Francis and the Catholic Church are under increasing pressure for their woefully inadequate handling of sexual abuse by priests, and their many failures in trying to keep the abuses secret within the church.

This is happening in many countries around the world, and has been highlighted as an insidious problem locally as well. It seems to be a systemic problem within the Catholic Church.

A recent damning report in the US has prompted action there – Stirred by Sexual Abuse Report, States Take On Catholic Church

Attorneys general across the United States are taking a newly aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents.

On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation.

The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamoring for more transparency from their church, demanding that bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure.

In the three weeks since the release of the Pennsylvania report, the attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico have also said they will investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have asked local dioceses for records. Most bishops have been saying they will cooperate.

Cooperation by bishops has been badly lacking in the past.

And criticism goes right to the top of the church – What has Pope Francis covered up?

The Catholic Church is confronting a series of interconnected scandals so shameful that its very survival is threatened. Pope Francis himself is accused of covering up the activities of one of the nastiest sexual predators ever to wear a cardinal’s hat: his close ally Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington, DC.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are also implicated; they did nothing, or almost nothing, while McCarrick was seducing every seminarian he could get his hands on. (‘Hide the pretty ones!’ they used to say when he visited seminaries.) Yet powerful cardinals kept quiet and are now suspected of lying their heads off after McCarrick’s crimes were recently made public.

McCarrick is the world’s only ex-cardinal. He was forced to resign in July when sexual abuse allegations against him were found to be ‘creditable and substantiated’ by American church authorities. But now the Pope is also being urged to step down — by his own former apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò says he told Francis in 2013 that McCarrick had ‘corrupted generations of priests and seminarians’. The Pope ignored him and lifted sanctions that Benedict, who’d been told the same thing, had imposed.

Last month – Pope in Ireland: Francis speaks of Church’s failure to tackle clerical abuse ‘scandal’

The pope has spoken of his pain and shame at the failure of Church authorities to tackle the grave scandal of clerical abuse in Ireland.

On the first day of his historic Irish visit, the pontiff said people had a right to be outraged at the response of senior figures in the Catholic Church to the “repugnant crimes” inflicted on young people.

But:

Responding to the pope’s speech at Dublin Castle, victims advocacy group BishopAccountability.org said the pontiff’s remarks “gave little comfort to heartsick victims and Catholics hoping that he has a plan for ending the abuse and cover-up crisis.

“The pope again chose to commit to no specific solutions. Nor did he acknowledge his own responsibility for the crisis.”

And a day later – ‘I won’t say a word about it’: Pope silent on abuse claim letter

Pope Francis has declined to confirm or deny claims by the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the United States that he knew in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop of Washington.

The pope was dismissive of the 11-page text by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, saying that it “speaks for itself” and that he would not comment on it.

Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal last month, after a US church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

Since then, another man has come forward to say McCarrick began molesting him starting when he was 11, and several former seminarians have said McCarrick abused and harassed them when they were in seminary.

The accusations have created a crisis of confidence in the US and Vatican hierarchy.

Here in New Zealand over the last month the Otago Daily Times has published a series of articles revealing that abuse has also been perpetrated and hidden within the Catholic Church in Dunedin, around New Zealand and Australia. It appears to have been a deliberate plan to cover up abuses over decades.

Yesterday: Scale of abuse, suffering revealed

It started with one bad apple – a paedophile priest from Dunedin who abused four boys and was jailed for his crimes. But the story of Fr Magnus Murray’s crimes has opened the floodgates, releasing a torrent of torment and abuse held back for decades.

Mr Klemick can still recall every detail of four years of abuse at the hands of Ian Thompson, a teacher at St Paul’s High School, beginning in 1979 when he was just 12 years old.

The memories are of sodomy and sex acts, including the ones he was forced to perform on another young boy, also a victim of Mr Thompson.

The experience has left him battling post-traumatic stress disorder and, despite counselling, the urge to try to take his own life again.

Michael Haggie has a similar story of torment to share.

There is much more.

Now, after a months-long investigation by ODT Insight, a clearer picture of the scale of sexual offending within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin is emerging.

It began with revelations Fr Magnus Murray, a paedophile priest from Dunedin, had many more victims than previously thought.

Fr Murray was jailed in 2003 for offences against four Dunedin boys, but ODT Insight found he could have up to 15 victims on the Taieri alone, as well as others in Australia and the North Island.

But, when ODT Insight also revealed offending by Br Desmond Fay and a second Christian Brother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – in Dunedin, more victims soon came forward.

Br Fay was accused by the mother of one victim of driving her son to suicide, but the story prompted three more men to reveal they, too, had been targeted by Br Fay.

But Br Fay, who has since died, was not alone, the man said.

He also recalled being punished by former St Edmund’s principal Br Vincent Sullivan, who “put me over his knee and gave me a light spanking and then fondled my buttocks while Br Fay watched”.

The man fondled in the swimming pool by Br Fay had also learned, years later, three of his friends had been abused by Christian Brothers in Dunedin.

Two had, separately, confided in him that they had been molested by Br Francis Henery, a teacher and rugby coach at St Paul’s High School in the 1970s, he said.

THIS week, ODT Insight has confirmed another paedophile priest from Dunedin, Fr Kevin Morton, was quietly stripped of his priestly faculties in 2002 after allegations of historic abuse emerged.

A complaint in 2002 prompted the then-Dunedin Bishop Len Boyle to strip Fr Morton of his priestly faculties, but he did not defrock him.

It was the same sanction handed down to Fr Magnus Murray, who also remained a priest in retirement despite his conviction.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley, asked about Fr Morton this week, confirmed the diocese had “full records” of the complaint and Fr Morton’s punishment.

He would not elaborate, citing privacy, but Fr Morton was “dealt with through the approved complaints procedure”.

The procedure seems to have been to keep it covered up within the church, and allowing perpetrators to continue to offend elsewhere.

In 1993, Fr Robin Paulson, a fourth-form teacher at St Peter’s College in Gore, admitted six charges relating to historic offences against three boys in Southland.

He was sentenced to periodic detention, then returned home to England, where he remains a member of the Rosminians, the Catholic order beset by their own abuse scandals in Britain.

Teaching alongside Fr Paulson in Gore at the time was another man also later convicted of offences against boys.

In 1977, Patrick Thwaites was a deacon at Holy Cross College in Mosgiel, studying to be a priest, when he was dispatched to St Peter’s in Gore to teach third and fourth-formers.

In 1999, Fr Thwaites was a priest in Christchurch when he was found guilty of offences against schoolboy parishioners in Christchurch and on the West Coast, dating back to the 1980s.

Fr Thwaites has been removed from public ministry, but also remains a priest in retirement.

But ODT Insight has also been told of other allegations, including one by three men who shared the same story of abuses committed by a former top-level, long-serving member of the Dunedin diocese, who has since died.

There seems to have been many bad apples in the Catholic barrel.

And many victims are still suffering as the church fails to take anything like full responsibility.

BISHOP Dooley, speaking to ODT Insight last month, responded to the revelations of historic abuse within the Dunedin diocese by apologising to the city.

But, asked how big the list of offenders could be, he doubted it would mirror the revelations seen in other countries.

“I don’t believe that’s our case here, certainly not in the Dunedin diocese. I see no evidence for it and I’d be very surprised if their are further offenders.”

He confirmed the diocese kept records of every complaint received, but would not say how many there were or how much money the diocese had paid to victims.

The dirty secrets are being uncovered, but the Church still seems reluctant to deal with it openly or adequately.

Victims said the sexual offending in Dunedin was only part of a wider picture of violence at St Paul’s and other schools at the time.

Men like Br Fay, Br Wellsmore and Mr Thompson were notoriously bad-tempered and violent towards boys at the schools where they taught, they said. Several men have described how Mr Thompson would erupt over the smallest infractions and beat those responsible.

Chris Gamble, a St Paul’s pupil, remembered Mr Thompson as “the most heinous, violent man”.

And Suicide to avoid exposure

A Catholic school in Dunedin has been accused of a historic cover-up, after a teacher who sexually abused pupils for more than a decade took his own life when finally confronted, victims say.

Three men – all former pupils at St Paul’s High School in Rattray St – have told ODT Insight the teacher, Ian Thompson, targeted pupils at the school throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

The Christian Brothers had employed Mr Thompson after he was forced out of a Marist Fathers seminary in the North Island, allegedly after affairs with other seminarians, a third pupil said.

That seems to be a common pattern – moving a problem priest to fresh pastures where abuses continued.

Another article today – What victims want most: justice

Dunedin’s new Catholic Bishop, the Most Rev Michael Dooley, seems like a good and honourable man.

He has fronted media and his parishioners, expressed shock and pain at recent revelations, apologised to victims and the city for past events and urged those still suffering in silence to come forward.

But he remains reluctant to answer some tough questions.

Bishop Dooley won’t say how many complaints have been received, or how many past offenders he is aware of, within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin.

That information will only be revealed to police or the Royal Commission, not to media, the bishop  says.

He is also not yet prepared to discuss some allegations levelled against clergy, including those aimed at one of the most senior figures within the diocese in recent times.

Instead, he has insisted Dunedin’s problem remains small compared with  the shocking revelations seen in other countries, from the United States and Ireland to Australia.

But, as he does so, the list of alleged offenders from the Deep South keeps growing.

The pattern is repeated elsewhere, including in the North Island, where Hamilton Bishop the Most Rev Steve Lowe also remains tight-lipped.

The Catholic Church still seems reluctant to address a massive issue that is severely damaging the church.

For men like Paul Klemick, abused as a young pupil by a Catholic teacher at St Paul’s High School, what happened is not historic.

It remains an everyday reality  and as painful as it was when they were innocent children.

But as they speak, one word keeps coming up.

Justice.

Men like Paul Klemick want their experiences acknowledged and they want compensation.

But, most of all, they want the Catholic Church to answer for what happened.

Which is exactly why the Catholic Church, and churches of all stripes, need to be part of the Government’s pending Royal Commission into historic abuse.

But the Government is moving slowly on the Royal Commission: Cabinet yet to hear abuse inquiry proposal

Three months after receiving a report on its proposed terms of reference, Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin is yet to complete the next step in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in state care.

Martin, alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, announced the inquiry as the “final commitment” of the coalition Government’s 100 day plan at the beginning of February. At the time, the stated time-frame for it to begin to consider evidence was mid-to-late 2018.

However, in a letter addressed to law firm Cooper Legal – which represents more than 900 people with claims of abuse under state care – Martin reveals she is yet to finalise her proposal to Cabinet on the inquiry. The proposal is supposed to take into account Commission chair Sir Anand Satyanand’s report on public submissions about the draft terms of reference. While Satyanand submitted his report on May 30, Martin is yet to follow this up with a proposal to Cabinet.

Before the inquiry can proceed to evidential stage, Cabinet must decide on its final terms of reference, additional commission members, and budget. That decision-making process is due to begin once Martin makes her formal proposal on the inquiry to Cabinet.

In the meantime, the many victims continue to suffer.

 

 

 

17 year old Amanda Kerr breaks cricket records

It has to be said that the White Ferns New Zealand women’s cricket team has absolutely smashed Ireland in a three game series, but the effort by 17 year old Amanda Kerr is still amazing.

Records were broken in the first two games – from White Fern makes cricket history

In game one, the Ferns recorded the biggest score in ODI history, smashing 490, and in game two, Sophie Devine blasted the fastest ODI century by a New Zealand woman.

But Kerr starred with both bat and ball in the third.

17-year-old White Ferns all-rounder Amelia Kerr has blasted a record-breaking 232 not out against Ireland – the highest score in the history of women’s One Day Internationals.

She then completed arguably the greatest individual performance in ODI history by taking 5-17 with the ball as Ireland were bowled out for 135 as New Zealand coast to a 305-run victory.

Kerr scored nearly a hundred more runs than the Ireland 11.

The caveat about oppositional strength does have to be mentioned – Ireland have been hopelessly outclassed, to the point where the Ferns could decimate their bowling attack with two batswomen who before this series had never batted above number seven in ODI cricket.

But those caveats would perhaps be more of note if Kerr has simply blasted another quickfire 80. When you become the youngest double centurion in the history of the game, there cannot be many diluters.

Amelia Kerr’s records:

  • Biggest score in a women’s ODI (Second highest in any women’s format, third in all ODIs)
  • Biggest partnership for the second wicket in women’s ODIs (Second highest for any wicket)
  • Biggest partnership in White Ferns ODI history
  • Most fours in a women’s ODI innings
  • Most boundaries in a women’s ODI innings
  • Youngest New Zealander to hit a hundred
  • Youngest double centurion in all cricket

Cricket form can be fickle, but Kerr has made an impressive start to her career.

Record ODI score for White Ferns

New Zealand’s White Ferns have scored a record 490 runs in a 50 over One Day International. While the opposition (Ireland) will have contributed, this is especially impressive as women cricketers are not as big a hitters as men.

New Zealand women 490 for 4 (Bates 151, Green 121, Kerr 81*)
beat Ireland women 144 (Delany 37, Kasperek 4-17) by 346 runs

There were only 7 sizes in that total, but a whopping 64 fours – more than one per over on average. Ireland side scored only 18 boundaries, while Bates alone hit 26.

Notably, this match was played on the same pitch where New Zealand had chased down 137 in 11 overs without losing a wicket on Wednesday.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18508/report/1145891/ireland-women-vs-new-zealand-women-1st-odi-new-zealand-women-tour-of-ireland-and-england-2018

Ireland abortion vote puts New Zealand law to shame

Ireland has just resoundingly voted to modernise their abortion law, giving women the choice the should have.

This highlights New Zealand’s shameful persistence with law that is not fit for purpose to the extent that it is virtually ignored in practice, although it forces women into a demeaning process.

We should add abortion to the referendum list for next year, along with personal use of cannabis and euthanasia.

The last Government was not interested in addressing the abortion anomaly.

Abortion was not addressed in either the Labour-NZ First or Labour-Green governing agreements.

However Jacinda Ardern campaigned against the current law – Abortion ‘shouldn’t be a crime’ (September 2017):

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says abortion should not be in the Crimes Act and she would change the law.

Access to abortion is governed by the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977.

“It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act. People need to be able to make their own decision. People need to be able to make their own decisions. I want women who want access to be able to have it as a right.”

At the same time Bill English supported the law as it is but also supported a conscience vote:

Prime Minster Bill English, a conservative Catholic, said he supported the law as it was and he would be opposed to liberalisation. He described the current set-up, where a woman has to get a certificate from two separate medical professionals saying she needed an abortion, was “broadly acceptable” and was working.

However, English said it would be a “conscience decision”, so his MP could vote freely on it.

Why not let the people vote on it?

February 2018: Labour moves to legalise abortion

Andrew Little surprised observers today when he revealed that a draft referral on reforming New Zealand’s abortion law had been circulated to New Zealand First and the Greens. Little said today that he received a letter from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the coalition was formed directing him to begin the process of reforming the law.

Once the two parties give feedback, the referral will be sent to the Law Commission to make a recommendation.

New Zealand is not just out of step with modern law, it is also out of step with modern practices.

New Zealand is an outlier among OECD countries for the time it takes to get an abortion and the way abortions are provided to patients.

In New Zealand, a patient must be referred to two specialists to sign-off on the abortion. If one refuses, the woman may need to find a third specialist. The average time from referral to procedure is 25 days.

In other countries the it can take just a week from referral to procedure. This makes it more likely for New Zealand patients to require a surgical, rather than a medical abortion, as they have passed the nine week mark.

In New Zealand, only 15 percent of abortions are medical abortions. By contrast, 62 percent of abortions in the UK are medical abortions and 45 percent of abortions performed before nine weeks (two-thirds of the total number) in the United States are medical abortions.

Terry Bellamak, President of the Abortion Law Reform Association…

…said that she would like to see abortion wiped from the Crimes Act and the restrictive grounds for abortion abolished.

Currently, abortion can be granted on the grounds that the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother; that there is a substantial risk the child will be seriously handicapped; that the pregnancy is a result of incest; or that the woman is deemed to be “severely subnormal”.

Bellamak said she would like New Zealand’s law to be reformed along the lines of Canada.

“Canada has absolutely no abortion laws and no regulations around abortion. They simply trust women,” she said.

Andrew Little refused to give much detail on what reform might look like…

…but suggested it might be broader than taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

“There are more issues than just what’s in the Crimes Act … it’s also the hurdles that have been put in the way of women who are faced with making that decision”.

The vote would be a conscience vote, meaning MPs would be given the ability to vote freely without following a party line.

Why not a people vote, in a referendum along with cannabis and euthanasia?

Ardern and Little support reform.

Greens have actively campaigned on reform: Abortion – it’s time to decriminalise

The Green Party supports the decriminalisation of abortion because we trust women to make decisions that are best for them and their whānau/family. We want to ensure equal access to all potential options are available to pregnant women.

We want to change the abortion laws because:

  • The fact that 99% of abortions are approved on ‘mental health’ grounds reveals the dishonesty of the current legal situation.
  • The time taken to see two consultants means abortions happen later in the pregnancy. This is more dangerous for the woman, and it makes it difficult to access medical abortions (those which are conducted using medicine rather than surgery), which can only be performed at under 9 weeks’ gestation.
  • Rape (sexual violation) is not grounds for abortion under NZ law.
  • To reduce the stigma and judgement that happens over the reasons a woman chooses to have an abortion (e.g. rape being seen as more justified grounds for abortion than poverty).
  • Abortion’s continuing criminal status helps reinforce geographical variations in access to abortion services.
  • The current laws are discriminatory towards people with disabilities.

We also want to change the presumption that currently exists within medical culture and wider society, encouraged by the wording in the legislation, that if there is a significant disability diagnosis then an abortion is assumed to be desirable.

While English supported an MP conscience vote on abortion Simon Bridges could be different. In February when he became National leader:

Bridges told Mediaworks abortion should be “rare, safe and legal and I think the emphasis there is on rare. I think that’s where the vast majority of New Zealanders are”.

If that’s his view I think Bridges is out of touch with new Zealand.

Vice have noted he: “Voted to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.”

In principle NZ First supports people deciding things by referendum. In March last year Tracey Martin pointed this out in Politically, Abortion change rests with NZ First so what does that look like?

What’s our view on abortion legislation?

Abortions should be safe, legal and rare.

We have a policy of citizen-initiated binding referendum, held at the same time as a general election – a policy we have had for 23 years – this is one of those issues for such a referendum. It should not be decided by temporarily empowered politicians but by the public.

We need a 12 to 18 month conversation around this issue and then let the people have their say.

Topics that we would be suggest be associated with this discussion would include: Moving the issue from the Criminal Act to the Health Act, ensuring women get the best possible advice, getting more research into “why” women find themselves needing to seek this service and how can we assist them to avoid having to seek this service.

It makes more sense to me to have a referendum a year before the election. It separates issues decided from the politics of general elections, and is a very good way of engaging the public in democracy.

 

66.4% vote yes to amend abortion law in ‘quiet revolution ‘ in Ireland

The final result in the Irish referendum on abortion:

The Eight Amendment to the Republic of ireland’s constitution was introduced after a referendum in 1983. It “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right“.

Just one constituency, Donegal, voted against change with No 51.9% to Yes 48.1%.

The next closest was Cavan-Monaghan with No 44.5% to yes 55.5%.

The Yes vote in the ten Dublin constituencies ranged from 73.1% to 78.5%.

BBC –  Ireland abortion referendum: PM hails ‘quiet revolution’

The Irish prime minister has hailed his country’s “quiet revolution” as early results point to a “resounding” vote for overturning the abortion ban.

Leo Varadkar was speaking after exit polls suggested a landslide vote in favour of reforming the law.

“The people have spoken. They have said we need a modern constitution for a modern country,” he said.

Mr Varadkar, who campaigned in favour of liberalisation, said: “What we’ve seen is the culmination of a quiet revolution that’s been taking place in Ireland over the past 20 years.”

The taoiseach (prime minister) added that Irish voters “trust and respect women to make the right choices and decisions about their own healthcare”.

BBC – Timeline: Ireland and abortion

1861 – Abortion is first banned in Ireland in 1861 by the Offences Against the Person Act, and stays in place after Irish independence.

1983 – The Eighth Amendment to the Republic’s constitution, or Article 40.3.3, is introduced after a referendum.

1992 – The X case – a 4-year-old suicidal rape victim is initially prevented by the courts from travelling to England to terminate her pregnancy. The ruling prompts demonstrations by both anti-abortion and pro-choice campaigners across Ireland, in New York and London. However, the ruling is later overturned by Ireland’s Supreme Court. It says the credible threat of suicide is grounds for an abortion in Ireland.

In November that year, as a result of the X case and the judgement in the Supreme Court appeal, the government put forward three possible amendments to the constitution.

The Thirteenth Amendment said the abortion ban would not limit freedom of travel from Ireland to other countries for a legal abortion. It passed Yes 62.39%, No 37.61%.

The Fourteenth Amendment said Irish citizens had the freedom to learn about abortion services in other countries. It passed Yes 59.88% to No 40.12%.

The Twelfth Amendment proposed that the possibility of suicide was not a sufficient threat to justify an abortion. It failed No 65.35% to Yes 34.65%.

Turnout 68%.

2002 – Another referendum, asking if the threat of suicide as a ground for legal abortion should be removed. Yes 49.58%, No 50.52% (turnout 42.89%).

2010 – After three women take a case against Ireland, the European Court of Human Rights rules the state has failed to provide clarity on the legal availability of abortion in circumstances where the mother’s life is at risk.

2013 – Abortion legislation is again amended to allow terminations under certain conditions – the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is signed into law. It legalises abortion when doctors deem that a woman’s life is at risk due to medical complications, or at risk of taking her life. It also introduces a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for having or assisting in an unlawful abortion.

2015 – The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommends a referendum on abortion, saying it is concerned at Ireland’s “highly restrictive legislation” and calls for a referendum to repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.

2016 – The United Nations Human Rights Committee says that Ireland’s ban on abortion subjected a woman carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

2017 – A Citizens’ Assembly votes to recommend the introduction of unrestricted access to abortion. It votes 64% to 36% in favour of having no restrictions in early pregnancy.

2018 – In March, Irish Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy signs an order to set the date for an abortion referendum.

And in big reversals of the 1992 referendum and Twelfth Amendment vote in 2002 the people of Ireland have voted resoundingly to modernise their abortion law.


New Zealand’s abortion law is still archaic but it is virtually ignored in practice. Time this is properly addressed – perhaps we should have an abortion referendum here too.

Irish vote on abortion

Irish truck drivers south to fill shortage

Truck driving is another occupation in New Zealand that faces shortages of workers. Firms are trying to recruit drivers from Ireland.

Construction, horticulture, viticulture and dairy farming also have trouble attracting local workers – and while wage rates may be a factor I think it’s far from the only reason why we have worker shortages alongside a stubborn level of unemployment.

Irish Times:  New Zealand seeks to recruit 1,000 Irish truck drivers

Irish long distance drivers are being invited to travel a very long distance to get work. New Zealand is looking to recruit up to 1,000 truck drivers from overseas as it cannot fill the vacancies internally.

It takes three years to qualify as a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver in New Zealand and many young Kiwis are not attracted to the job.

Recruitment firm Canstaff is offering a new relocation package to overseas heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers from Ireland to fill the skills shortage. In some cases haulage companies will pay the cost of flights to New Zealand.

Irish truck drivers can earn between €15 and €20 an hour in New Zealand. In Ireland the rate is closer to €12 an hour, according to Canstaff managing director Matt Jones.

Mr Jones said he had spent a lot of time in Ireland in 2011 and 2012 recruiting construction workers to rebuild Christchurch which had been badly damaged in an earthquake.

The average reported salary for a New Zealand truck driver last year was NZ$51,200 (€31,000), but wages have gone up by 20 per cent to attract the right candidates.

“Despite Government initiatives to attract more heavy vehicle drivers, the shortage has been ongoing and a more immediate solution is needed to keep New Zealand’s wheels of commerce turning.”

RNZ:  Trucking firms forced to go offshore to search for drivers

A recruitment agency is planning to import truck drivers from overseas because local young people aren’t interested in that line of work.

Simon Reid owns a company in Northland that maintains about nine trucks. Business is pretty good, but he’s got a problem.

“There is quite a problem with attracting drivers to the industry. It’s not going to be something that goes away, simply because the government isn’t interested in helping us.

“They don’t see us as being a critical problem in the bigger picture of the economy.”

Recruitment firm Canstaff’s managing director Matt Jones thought he knew why.

“It’s probably not sexy enough for that [younger] generation.

“There’s a bit of graft in it, a bit of dirt under the fingernails … the millennial generation enjoy looking at a computer screen. They don’t mind driving a truck on a computer screen, but doing it in real life is a little bit different.”

Long haul truck driving often means having to spend time away from home.

Truck driving is a fairly lucrative job – it starts at about $50,000 a year, hits six figures at the top levels, and doesn’t require an expensive tertiary degree.

That doesn’t sound bad – money doesn’t seem to be the main reason for the driver shortage.

All you need to get the wheels rolling is a full driver’s licence, and one of four types of special class licence – which you can sit straight away, after having your full licence for six months.

The Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Tauranga offers courses in heavy truck driving safety. The group leader of those courses, Dean Colville, said enrolments had hit a low point.

“This year we’ve had the lowest numbers ever. Normally we run classes of about 20, and this year they’ve been down to about 14, and as low as six in some cases.”

Mr Colville said the problem was the six-month wait to get a full drivers licence, which meant high school graduates could not get a job in the industry immediately after high school.

A six month wait for a full license doesn’t seem to be a big issue. Most careers take some training and time after you leave school.

Were seem to have quite a few unemployed people who are quite fussy about the sort of work they get. And there’s some that aren’t fussed on work at all.

These sorts of issues can be complex, but the truck driver shortage adds to the unemployment and immigration debates.

Blasphemous libel

Blasphemy has made the news with reports that Irish police are investigating Stephen Fry for it after remarks he made on television in 2015.

The Telegraph: Stephen Fry under police investigation for blasphemy after branding God an ‘utter maniac’

According to reports , Irish police are investigating  Fry, once voted the most intelligent man on TV, for insulting God. To be precise Fry accused God of being an ‘utter maniac’.

The Irish Independent claimed police launched its inquiry after comments made by Fry during an interview with the national broadcaster RTE.

A member of the public contacted the Gardai after Fry disclosed his thoughts on God in an interview first broadcast as long ago as February 2015.

The footage, which showed Fry questioned by Irish veteran presenter Gay Byrne, went viral after it was aired and has now been viewed more than seven million times on YouTube.

The individual, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Irish Independent it had been his “civic duty” to report the comments which he alleges were in breach of the Defamation Act.

In the interview Fry was asked what he would say if he was confronted by God. He responded:

“How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil.”

“Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

“I would say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’

“Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac.

“Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?”

Under Irish law blasphemy comes under the Defamation Act and has a maximum fine of 25,000 Euro.

We still have blasphemy in New Zealand law, and the penalties are higher.

Stuff: Surprise as public figures told New Zealand still has anti-blasphemy laws

New Zealand still has an anti-blasphemy law, though neither the prime minister nor the Anglican archbishop was aware of the fact.

The law – which appears not to have been used since 1922 – came to light after reports British entertainer Stephen Fry faced police investigation in the Republic of Ireland for comments he made about “a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God”.

New Zealand has laws covering crimes against religion, morality, and public welfare. And blasphemous libel – though vaguely defined – remains an offence punishable by up to 12 months’ jail.

Here is Part 7, section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961:


Part 7
Crimes against religion, morality, and public welfare

Crime against religion

123 Blasphemous libel

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year who publishes any blasphemous libel.

(2) Whether any particular published matter is or is not a blasphemous libel is a question of fact.

(3) It is not an offence against this section to express in good faith and in decent language, or to attempt to establish by arguments used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, any opinion whatever on any religious subject.

(4) No one shall be prosecuted for an offence against this section without the leave of the Attorney-General, who before giving leave may make such inquiries as he or she thinks fit.


This is indeed very vague. I don’t know how something that could be so subjective could be considered a question of fact.

What exactly constitutes blasphemy?

blasphemy
noun

the action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk.

That’s no clearer. This is what Wikipedia says about it:

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, to religious or holy persons or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.

Some religions consider blasphemy as a religious crime. As of 2012, anti-blasphemy laws existed in 32 countries, while 87 nations had hate speech laws that covered defamation of religion and public expression of hate against a religious group. Anti-blasphemy laws are particularly common in Muslim-majority nations, such as those in the Middle East and North Africa, although they are also present in some Asian and European countries.

And also present in at least one South Pacific country.

As of 2012, 33 countries had some form of anti-blasphemy laws in their legal code.[6] Of these, 21 were Muslim-majority nations – Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey, the UAE and the Western Sahara. The other twelve nations with anti-blasphemy laws in 2012 were Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands (abolished in 2014), Nigeria, Poland and Singapore.

Add New Zealand to that list.

Christian theology condemns blasphemy. It is spoken of in Mark 3:29, where blaspheming the Holy Spirit is spoken of as unforgivable—the eternal sin.

Blasphemy has been condemned as a serious, or even the most serious, sin by the major creeds and Church theologians (apostasy and infidelity [unbelief] were generally considered to be the gravest sins, with heresy a greater sin than blasphemy, cf. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae).

“[if] we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one’s neighbor. On the other hand, if we compare them in respect of the harm wrought by them, murder is the graver sin, for murder does more harm to one’s neighbor, than blasphemy does to God.”

The most common punishment for blasphemers was capital punishment through hanging or stoning, justified by the words of Leviticus 24:13–16.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.”

The last person hanged for blasphemy in Great Britain was Thomas Aikenhead aged 20, in Scotland in 1697. He was prosecuted for denying the veracity of the Old Testament and the legitimacy of Christ’s miracles.

Blasphemy (and blasphemous libel) remained a criminal offence in England & Wales until the passing of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, but was last successfully prosecuted in the case of Whitehouse v Lemon (1977), where the defendant was fined £500 and given a nine-month suspended prison sentence (the publisher was also fined £1,000).

So it is no longer a crime in England and Wales, but it is here.

Islam:

Blasphemy in Islam is impious utterance or action concerning God, Muhammad or anything considered sacred in Islam. The Quran admonishes blasphemy, but does not specify any worldly punishment for blasphemy. The hadiths, which are another source of Sharia, suggest various punishments for blasphemy, which may include death. However, it has been argued that the death penalty applies only to cases where there is treason involved that may seriously harm the Muslim community, especially during times of war.

Judaism:

In Jewish law the only form of blasphemy which is punishable by death is blaspheming the Ineffable Name. The Seven Laws of Noah, which Judaism sees as applicable to all people, prohibit blasphemy

It will be interesting to see what happens with Fry in Ireland.

Just to be safe please express in good faith and in decent language, or to attempt to establish by arguments used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, any opinion whatever on any religious subject at Your NZ. That’s not bad advice on any topic.

All Blacks v. Ireland – one that matters

Posts will be slow this morning as I will be watching the test in Dublin.

It’s good to have real interest in a test, this is one that matters for the All Blacks, and no doubt Ireland will be keen to prove they can do it again.

Ireland out thought and out played the All Blacks in Chicago a fortnight ago and won deservedly. It was great for them.

The All Blacks will be keen on reversing their form in that game and getting back on top.

It will be a fascinating game, and one that matters a lot for both teams.

Half time 14-6 to the Al Blacks.

The ABs started well with early pressure that resulted in a try, and another good try, but they conceded a lot of penalties and Ireland fought back strongly.

The interest remains for the second half. The ABs have the advantage but too close to call.

Black Ferns win

The Black ferns came back from being behind 7-17 to beat England women 25-20.

Italy beats South Africa

In a surprise result, coming back from a drubbing by the ABs last week Italy beat South Africa for the first time 20-18.

And Wales came close to embarrassment wining against Japan with a late drop goal 33-30.