With RTÉ’s Leap of Faith gone into sleep mode for the summer, you wouldn’t go far wrong checking out Sunday Sequence (BBC Radio Ulster) for some stimulating religious and ethical discussion with an Irish flavour.
Last Sunday morning it felt like something of a time warp with issues like land grabbing, slavery, and whether children of married parents should have more rights than children born outside marriage – not that anyone was in favour of such discrimination, but the participants wrestled with how you could avoid any effect on the children while still promoting marriage as the most stable family form for the good of society.
Slavery was raised because of controversial comments from Kanye West about slavery being a “choice” because it was embedded so long in the world’s history – I presume he meant a “choice” for the oppressors.
Whatever the case, this led to a discussion on the limits of free speech, and finished with the suggestion from presenter Audrey Carville that for West this may have been the beginning of a new art installation!
The land-grabbing story came from Cambodia, with the land of the poor being taken from them to suit powerful vested interests, as outlined by guest Christopher Kelly from Derry, whose film A Cambodian Spring has raised awareness.
On a more positive and uplifting note International Dawn Chorus Day was marked by some chirpy recordings from earlier that morning, and the uplift of human singing was featured as well, in Carville’s enthusiastic interview with a very cheerful Gareth Gilkeson of the worship band Rend Collective about their expression of faith through music.
The newspaper review at the end of the show covered articles on the abortion debate down south, including Liam Neeson’s support for the repeal campaign, so women will have choices over their own bodies (no mention of the baby’s body), radio presenter Wendy Grace’s support for a ‘No’ vote and the opportunity it gives to do better for women and babies, and Eilis O’Hanlon’s analysis of the latest opinion poll (“nothing is certain”) – all from the Sunday Independent.
Sometimes it feels like a referendum about posters, conveniently allowing the main issues to get side-tracked. I don’t agree with graphic posters shown in public, though they do convey a reality that the media won’t confront, and it’s ironic to hear people complaining about posters but supporting the very ugliness they portray.
The Irish Centre for Bioethical Research is responsible for these posters and their representative Dr Jean Engela spoke on The Pat Kenny Show, Wednesday of last week. He was more moderate than I expected, gave an articulate defence of the right to life of the unborn and wasn’t at all phased by Kenny’s insistent questioning, especially on abortion in the case of rape.
I’ve noticed interviewers concentrating quite a bit on this aspect of the debate in the last week, as if this was to be the pro-repeal strategy of the week (not suggesting conspiracy theory of course!). For example, Miriam O’Callaghan used it with Mary Butler TD (Fianna Fáil) on last Thursday night’s Prime Time. On the same day’s Last Word (Today FM), Eamon Ó Cuiv TD stayed calm despite being grilled by Matt Cooper for his pro-life sins.
On the same show this was followed on the Friday by a softer interview with Billy Kelleher TD (also FF) and where hard questions were asked they were largely about the political implications rather than the main issue. When are repealers confronted with the inherent cruelty of abortion?
However, the goose of the pro-repealers may well be cooked. On the Saturday Sit-In (Newstalk) George Hook interviewed Senator David Norris who was in favour of repeal – but he thought the outcome was on a knife-edge (interesting metaphor). When Hook reminded Norris that his Anglican Church was against repeal he curiously described their stance on this as “dithering”.
Hook also suggested that, unlike the marriage referendum, this time there was a third person involved, “who has no voice”, the unborn child. Though accepting that abortion was “killing something”, Sen. Norris said he didn’t believe it was a person, more of a “potential person”, not a “full human being”, and, characteristically tongue in cheek no doubt, declared the test to be whether you could bring this entity to the cinema.
As more pre-borns than newborns get to the cinema, I’d suggest this is a scary notion.
Pick of the week
Buchenwald – Communist Legend and Historical Reality
RTÉ 2, Saturday, May 12, 8 pm
Documentary about unusually large number child survivors at the notorious concentrations camp.
RTÉ 1, Sunday, May 13, 11 am
Mass for the Ascension from Knock, on the fifth anniversary of Donal Walsh, Tralee. Celebrant: Most Reverend Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.
CLAIRE BYRNE LIVE REFERENDUM SPECIAL
RTÉ 1, Monday, May 14, 9.35 pm
Major studio debate on the abortion referendum.