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We Need strong Trade Unions

  We Need Strong Trade Unions                    Gerry OShea Two recent stories come to mind when I think of the vital importance of trade union membership. First, I talked to my friend John OShea at a memorial mass a couple of months ago about his recent retirement as a carpenter. John is not related to me although we grew up a few miles apart near the beautiful town of Kenmare in the southwest corner of Ireland.   He is still a vibrant young man at 60, so I wondered why he bowed out so early. John explained that he had worked for 34 years mainly with Eurotech, always in union jobs. His union-negotiated pension provides a good retirement income that allows him to retire and spend more time with his family as well as pursuing wider interests. By contrast, I was approached last year by a former colleague at work who was distraught about her father. I never met this man, but his daughter described him in glowing terms as someone who often worked two jobs to provide for his wife and t
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Irish Partition - Present and Future

    Irish Partition – Present and Future        Gerry OShea In his famous tragedy Macbeth Shakespeare issues a clear warning to power-hungry leaders about the consequences of their devious actions. “Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.” The partition of Ireland got off to a very poor start because not even one nationalist leader was consulted at any stage about truncating the island. The other community, unionists, led by James Craig and Edward Carson, had veto power over the negotiations in Westminster, but the minority Catholic population in Ulster had no say in the deliberations about the future governance of their province. The sectarian dividing line created by the passage of the Government of Ireland Act in Westminster in December, 1920 impacted both communities living in all parts of the island. Protestants outside of Ulster worried how their rights would be protected in the promised nationalist parliament in Dublin where they would be a minority, cut off from

Climate Disaster

  Climate Disaster                    Gerry OShea The precipitous decline in the planet’s ecological stability, associated in particular with climate change, has turbocharged the search for solutions or some kind of a respite. Wildfires are raging across Europe and North America – and beyond. Extreme weather is revealing how a rapidly-heating world is playing havoc with the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere. Intemperate heat in recent months has smashed records around the globe. Heatwaves have devastated India and south Asia and droughts have imperiled the residents in African countries especially in places close to the equator. In Great Britain where summer highs rarely reach 30 degrees centigrade (86 F) the numbers in July touched 40 (104 F) for the first time in recorded history. Runways at airports in the United Kingdom began melting and firefighters were stretched to contain multiple fires in overheated buildings. There was a sense of dealing with a new and fearful

The Irish Synod Report

 Irish Synod Report                      Gerry OShea About five years ago, I attended a lecture in Manhattan by an Irish Redemptorist priest, Fr. Tony Flannery. The event was sponsored by Call to Action, an organization that is critical of the Catholic Church because of its ineptitude in applying the gospel message to the realities of our time. Fr. Flannery was and still is banned from speaking publicly in any church-owned facility. In his speech he explained why he is considered a persona non grata, an outcast, by the powers in Rome. He named three areas of disagreement, pointing out that he does not question any of the traditional Catholic dogmas. He objects especially to the second-class status accorded to women in all areas of ecclesiastical life. He cautioned that while he favors full ordination rights for females the focus for now should be on achieving deaconate status, a step below the priesthood. He favors ending mandatory celibacy and welcoming married priests, and he was ada

Unexpected Result in Kansas

  Unexpected Result in Kansas              Gerry OShea The state of Kansas has six elected representatives in Washington, four members of the House and, of course, two senators. Both senators and three of the four House members are Republicans, and, true to form, Kansas hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in 1964. In 2004 a journalist and historian, Thomas Frank, authored a book titled What is the Matter with Kansas? It featured for eighteen weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. In England and Australia they changed the title to What is the Matter with America? Recalling the history of radicalism in the state at the end of the 19 th and the first half of the 20 th century Mr. Frank enumerated the radical movements in the past that supported the farmers living on the edge of penury and the plucky trade unionists fighting for decent wages and conditions for industrial workers. The book contends that the po

Mary Magdalene

  Mary Magdalene                        Gerry OShea After the crucifixion the fledgling movement of Christians commemorated the life and death of a man who had deeply impacted their lives and who they firmly believed had come back from the dead   for reasons they didn’t understand but which included his love for them. The records we have of those times reveal that his early followers met in small groups to support each other in prayer and community as they tried to come to terms with the monumental events that they had witnessed, and this process continued into the generations that followed. The four gospels were mostly written late in the first century, probably completed in the early years of the following one. There is evidence of women playing leadership roles in the deliberations and ceremonial practices in those early centuries. However, as time went on the leadership structure reflected more and more the male-dominated culture that consigned women to minor ecclesial roles

Democracy in Peril

  Democracy in Peril                Gerry OShea Athenian democracy lasted about 250 years from the early seventh century B.C.E. It was a magnificently successful experiment, involving military domination over the belligerent Persians while Athens grew in stature and wealth. And, famously, their educated class produced treasures of architecture, philosophy and art that continue on a high admiration pedestal to this day. The second experiment in democracy arose 2000 years later with the American constitution, guaranteeing representative local rule after George Washington and his colleagues ended British political control over the continent. The United States has dominated much of world history - economically, culturally and militarily - since that revolution in 1775. Like Athens, it too can claim major achievements as it approaches the 250-year marker. Unfortunately, the main message from the Greek experiment indicates that success does not breed success. Democracy has to be nurtur