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Showing posts from May, 2022
  Symbolic Politics in Northern Ireland        Gerry OShea 102 years ago, James Craig, the first prime minister in the new statelet in Belfast, proclaimed that his parliament was designed to have a Protestant majority “in perpetuity.” The results in the recent elections in Northern Ireland shattered unionist hegemony because Sinn Fein easily outpolled their main rivals, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), by about 65,000 votes giving them the most seats in parliament. Symbols play an important role in life in Northern Ireland which was set up as a sectarian statelet. For instance, mention of 1690 and the Battle of the Boyne to loyalists or 1916 and the Easter Rising to nationalists is likely to elicit a powerful emotional response suffused with pride and visions of past glory. The results of the recent elections there may well have little impact on everyday life in the province. However, at the symbolic level it would be hard to overestimate their significance.  The Sinn Fein
  Homosexuality and the Catholic Church               Gerry OShea Up until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental illness, meaning for instance, that any member of the medical profession in the United States, identifying as gay, was liable to lose his or her license. In those years, sodomy was listed as a crime in 42 states.  The cultural milieu in most Western countries which allowed this blatant discrimination has changed dramatically in just a few years, and gays now can comfortably proclaim their sexual orientation without fear of recrimination. Pete Buttigieg represents a good example of this transformation in American life. From a modest leadership role as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, he ran for the nomination of the Democratic Party in the last presidential election. He acquitted himself with distinction in all the debates and public appearances, often accompanied by his husband, Chasten. Mr. Buttigieg now serves as the Secretary of Transportation in the Biden adminis

Putin's Invasion

  Putin’s Invasion             Gerry OShea I was among the many “experts” convinced that Vladimir Putin would not invade Ukraine. Our thinking still seems logical: why would he attack the second largest country in Europe – smaller only than Russia – and start a continental war in the 21 st century? What would drive him to initiate a major murderous conflict, drawing the anger of most people in Europe and beyond? Why make Russia a pariah nation, viewed contemptuously almost everywhere? On the evening of February 21 st , three days before the Russian invasion, President Putin spoke at length about his beliefs in an interview on Russian radio. He angrily attacked NATO for its alleged eastern expansion, accused Ukraine of aggressive behavior and condemned the presence of Western missiles on Russia’s borders. However, most of his tirade was directed against Ukraine’s sense of nationhood. “Ukraine is not just a neighboring country for us. It is an inalienable part of our history, cu