The Irish Republic has changed, changed utterly

Attendance at Catholic churches in the Republic has dropped by at least 50%. The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, above in Londonderry, is openly gay, as is the minister for children
Attendance at Catholic churches in the Republic has dropped by at least 50%. The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, above in Londonderry, is openly gay, as is the minister for children

The letter from John Hyland (‘Act will be used to discriminate,’ March 8) regarding education, politics, religion etc. etc. makes for sad reading.

Certainly in the Free State and on into the declaration of the Irish Republic, it was predominantly Catholic in its governance and culture.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

Protestants effectively withdrew from politics and socialised only with each other. However, at the same time, most of the large well-known businesses were owned and operated by Protestants.

I have a photograph of my father in the soccer team of N.Harvey Printers Ltd. Waterford, a company Protestant owned, taken in 1932, surrounded by Protestant and Catholic workmates.

The surnames speak for themselves — Rowe, Kidd, Hennebry, Foley, Power, Baldwin and more.

Schools were strictly segregated by religion, mainly Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland, although in our town there was a Quaker School, whose female pupils excelled at hockey and caught our eye.

Catholic priests and hierarchy ruled its congregations with an iron fist. Woe betide anyone who challenged their power.

That was then, now, to use the well worn phrase, all changed, changed utterly.

Religion and its practice is in free-fall. The child abuse scandals have had massive impact. One in three couples are not officially married.

Non-denominational schools are in every city and large town.

Attendance at Catholic churches has dropped by at least 50%, now comprising the elderly and the very young children.

Protestant churches have a significant weekly attendance of one-time Catholics. Few know or care what religion, if any, one has.

The political scene is transformed. Fianna Fáil the one time dominant force is seriously reduced and likely to stay so.

Our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is openly gay and married happily. Our Minister for Children is also gay.

From now future governments will be coalitions of multiparty deputies, unless Fianna Fail and Fine Gael forget the civil war and merge, which is as likely as amalgamation of the DUP and UUP!

This means that the days of “permanent government” are over and all politicians are answerable to a whole new range of tribunals and investigations, if they do not prove their worth.

So with all respect to Mr.Hyland, what he wrote was reasonably accurate then, but thankfully not anymore - even if we still need to try harder.

Peter Griffin, Dooneen, Waterford