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A man who brings us back to the basic tenets of faith

Francis Farragher

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Fr. Tony Flannery: voice of the 'ordinary' believer.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

My ageing Massey Ferguson is not exactly the envy of my neighbourhood but it does have an old radio that works, keeping me in touch with all things local and national.

In the midst of my chores on Saturday, I tuned into Radio 1, where the excellent Áine Lawlor was doing an interview with one Fr Tony Flannery, the Redemptorist priest from Attymon, whose Masses I have chanced to attend, and enjoyed, over the years, but alas not any more.

For the past three years, Fr Tony has been ‘suspended from duties’ by a powerful body in the Catholic Church, known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), something akin to a disciplinary committee of the GAA, except that they are a lot more secretive and judgmental.

His so-called crime was that, at the height of the clerical sex abuse scandal in Ireland, he wrote that the “priesthood as we have it now in Ireland, is not as Jesus intended”, if anything, an understatement in terms the awfulness of what happened for decades across every corner of Ireland.  Years back the term ‘silenced’ was used in the context of disciplinary action against priests, but Tony Flannery certainly has not been silenced since the ruling by the CDF: in fact, he has travelled internationally to set up a reform movement in the Church.

Now 68 years of age, he remarked rather jaundicedly that his best chance of having the sanctions against him lifted would be a scenario, maybe a decade or so from now, if he was terminally ill, and the authorities decided that enough was enough.

He was there at the very start of the Galway Novena over 30 years ago and it was rather poignant to hear him speak of his official Church isolation towards the end of another successful nine day celebration of faith by the banks of the Corrib and also on the year’s great date of love, Valentine’s Day.

The poor man is obviously hurting very deeply on a personal level by being prevented from ‘putting on the vestments’ and celebrating the Eucharist, his great mission and purpose in life. But despite the unpleasantness of it all, he has also been stimulated by the many, many people in the Church, who want to see reform brought in and who want to see an end to the cloak-and-dagger attitude that has dragged the institution to its knees over recent years.

One of his tales about attending a recent funeral of a person that he knew well paints its own picture of a side of the Church that’s more reminiscent of the CIA than a Christian organisation. The priest in charge of the ceremony asked Tony Flannery to put on the vestment and to ‘come up on the altar’ with him. It was an offer he declined on the basis, that if he did go onto the altar, word of his action would have reached the Vatican by that same evening, and (in my words) ‘all hell would break loose’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Teach Solais closure a blow to LGBT teens

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

There is a dominant narrative, in Ireland and internationally, that a significant proportion of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex population experience mental health difficulties.

The findings of a study by GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) back up the anecdotal evidence with hard statistics.

Across LGBT groups surveyed, between 12% and 35% of participants recorded scores indicating severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety and stress.

LGBT teenagers aged 14-18 were most impacted, followed by 19-25 year-olds.

Compared with other adolescents, teenagers who identified as LGBT were four times more likely to suffer severe or extremely severe depression, anxiety and stress.

The 14-18 year-old LGBT population also had lower self-esteem, and scored lower levels of happiness and satisfaction than their straight friends.

One in three of the LGBT population surveyed self-harmed; nearly half had done so within the previous 12 months, and almost 60% said self-harm was related to their sexual identity and struggle to be accepted by others and society. Rates of self-harm were higher (56%) for 14-18 year-olds, and three in every four of them had self-harmed in the previous year.

The stats varied depending on age of the LGBT survey participants, but almost 60% of the sample had seriously thought of ending their own life, with approximately 45% having thought of doing so within the past year. Some 60% reported that their suicidal thoughts were at least somewhat related to their LGBTI identity.

Of those who had seriously considered ending their own life, four in ten (39.9%) did not seek any help for the problems that led them to seriously consider ending their life.

More than one in five of the sample (21.4%) had seriously tried to take their own life. Approximately two-thirds (66.8%) reported that their suicide attempt(s) was at least somewhat related to being LGBT.

There are more stats in the GLEN study from 2018 that show that despite the many advances for the LGBT community in Ireland, the heteronormative worldview of society impacts on young LGBT people in particular. They’re more likely to be bullied in school, and misuse drugs and alcohol than their straight counterparts, for example.

The survey is important in the context of the closure of Teach Solais, the LGBT resource centre run by voluntary charity, Amach.

It was supported by the Maureen O’Connell fund, through Saint Vincent de Paul and by funds from Galway City Council, to get it open to the public in 2017. But after three years, it has closed because the Government won’t grant it annual, sustainable funding.

For just €90,000 a year, Teach Solais would provide health and wellbeing services at a drop-in centre, as well as an outreach service in County Galway, where rural isolation leading to mental health issues is a major issue.

In the long-run, sustainable funding makes sense  and will save lives and improve the lives of the LGBT community who suffer in silence. All that’s needed is political will.

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

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Connacht Tribune

Will we ultimately adjust our lives to this new abnormal?

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New reality...Taoiseach Micheal Martin, wearing his Ireland-branded protective face mask.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Twenty years ago, I went to Macedonia to cover the impact of the civil war in Kosovo. The whole border area right into the capital, Skopje, had been turned into massive refugee camps. As the weeks went into months, you could see people who had been turfed out of their homes get used to the new reality.

Two years ago, I was in Ethiopia, a country that has over one million refugees. Most of the camps are run by humanitarian organisations and the truth is that they have better living conditions there than if they were to try to fare for themselves in the very poor countryside around them.

Some of them have been living there for more than a decade and the refugee camps now have permanent structures. There are schools and shops and massive food distribution centres.

It looks more like a shabby town than a canvas city these days, although the vast majority are dependent on hand-outs.

The net message is that people adjust to the conditions – to the reality that confronts them. Perhaps they bargain that it’s not forever; perhaps they get used to what is called the ‘new normal’.

You go out now and everybody is wearing a mask. When it first happened, it seemed like a curiosity.

Other things take longer to get used to; the absence of sports, for one. How many hundreds of thousands of people used to go to matches at weekends or in the long summer evenings to see their local parish or club participate?

Sure – it will be on television but it’s a lesser form.

The All-Ireland series will be truncated. And with the virus worsening in Dublin, it’s now looking like crowd numbers will remain severely restricted.

It’s also difficult for teenagers and people in their twenties – because when it comes to hormones versus the virus, hormones win every time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day

John McIntyre

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Conor Reddington of Annaghdown and Tuam Stars' Adam Carton in action during the North Board Minor B football final at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.

Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.

Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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