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Water for All of Life

Water is vital to all of life. All living creatures, including humans, need enough water, of sufficient quality, to survive and thrive. We in Ireland are fortunate: most of the time, our citizens have access to a clean, healthy, supply of water for drinking and sanitation. Around 768 million people, one tenth of the world’s population, do not have this.  


Curlew, Numenius arquata, female on moorland, Yorkshire, spring

Protecting Ireland’s Birds and Biodiversity: Time for Action

Many Irish people will be familiar with the call of the Curlew, a wading bird that breeds in rushy pastures and upland bogs through the summer months. For generations, it has been a cherished and familiar bird of Ireland’s farmed and coastal landscapes. In 1990, Ireland still had a sizeable population of Curlew, at around 5,000 breeding pairs. Now, however, it is estimated that there may be fewer than 200 pairs left. Such has been the decline of the Curlew that its extinction as a breeding bird in Ireland now seems certain unless urgent action is taken. It has become one of two bird species nesting in Ireland that are globally threatened (the other is the Corncrake).


Will the Government’s Climate Bill Work?

The outline of the Government’s proposed climate legislation (Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2013: Draft Heads) published in February 2013, was the subject of three full days of hearings by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment in July 2013.1 The Committee’s report to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, is due this autumn and the Government has promised to introduce its proposed legislation in the Dáil before the end of 2013.


Climate Change: Economics or Ethics?

The Nation State and Individual Self-interest A recent text dealing with the issue of climate politics coined the term ‘cancer of Westphalia’ to describe the current ailment of the international logjam in addressing what has been described as the greatest problem facing humanity in the twenty-first century.1 It is a rather strange evocation of the… Read more »



Working Notes – Issue 72 Editorial

In his homily at the Mass to mark the formal beginning of his papal ministry, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of the vocation of “protecting all creation [and] the beauty of the created world”. He added that this is not a vocation which involves only Christians, but rather one that arises simply from being… Read more »


Restoring the Fabric of Irish Economic and Social Life: A Theological Reflection (Part One)

Writing in the euphoric aftermath of the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and of President Barack Obama in May 2011, but in the context of the ongoing economic crisis, clinical psychologist, Maureen Gaffney, noted that people respond to big crises in two main ways – ‘by constructing redemption stories or contamination stories’, and said that ‘these stories significantly affect how people respond to the crisis’.



Ethical Finance

Many Christians in Ireland, either individually or as members of organisations, have long been campaigning for greater justice and transparency in economic and financial activity. During the ‘boom’ times they may well have felt like the biblical voice crying out in the wilderness; today, however, in the wake of successive financial scandals, discussion of ‘ethical finance’ has gained new momentum and immediacy.


Blindfolded man with "racism" text on the blindfold

Breaking the Silence on Racism

Racism is a persistent and increasing problem in the European Union and it is a problem from which Ireland is not exempt. Racist incidents are an everyday occurrence in Ireland, but this is a reality that remains invisible to most of the population.



Lives on Hold: Living Long-Term in Direct Provision Accommodation

Prior to 2000, people seeking asylum in Ireland were able to avail of mainstream social welfare payments, such as supplementary welfare allowance and rent supplement; in other words, they were assessed for entitlement along the same criteria as people already resident in the country. However, in the late 1990s the arrival of record numbers of people seeking the protection of the Irish State led to a change in policy in relation to the provision of accommodation and income for applicants during the processing of their claim. The result was the introduction of a system of ‘direct provision’.



Working Notes – Issue 71 Editorial

In the opening article in this issue of Working Notes, Eugene Quinn describes the difficultly of life within the direct provision accommodation system for applicants for asylum in Ireland – the restrictions of limited personal space, the impact of institutional living on families, and the boredom and loss of skills resulting from the ban on… Read more »