Bruce Arnold

Critic of Public Affairs, writing about art, theatre, music and politics

The Sale of Pictures by the Beit Foundation

The group of paintings that are being sold by the Beit Foundation, to create an endowment fund designed to keep Russborough House open and in good working order, have nothing whatsoever to do with the generous bequest made by Sir Alfred and Lady Beit. They are owned by the Foundation. They are significant individual works of art and their sale is important and should be supported by the very organisations that are now trying to stop that sale.

Notable among these are An Taisce, the Irish Georgian Society and The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland. All are misrepresenting the facts.

The Friends of the National Collections of Ireland maintain that the paintings “form part of the bequest of Sir Alfred and Lady Beit”. They do not. That bequest is safely and proudly held in the National Gallery. It is no longer safe for it to be housed at Russborough. This second, more recent group of works were not “gifted for public benefit” other than as decided by the Beit Foundation. The State has no responsibility in the matter.

Continue...

Second Letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s fantasy world and the world of Atlantic Philanthropies

From
Bruce Arnold,

17 May 2015

An Taoiseach
Mr Enda Kenny TD
Government Buildings
Upper Merrion Street
Dublin 2

A Second “Open Letter” to An Taoiseach about the Marriage Referendum

Dear Enda,

I have serious misgivings about the legality and wisdom of the facts related in the second part of this letter headed “Máire Geoghegan-Quinn’s fantasy world and the world of Atlantic Philanthropies.” The first part of the letter deals with the prevalence of misrepresentation by the Yes-Side in delivering their message. The two are offered as a serious indictment of the way in which the Referendum arguments have been so firmly backed by yourself, your Government and your party.

Continue...

Wasted Words of False Love

Why is it that a campaign in the name of love should be so tainted by expressions of hate? Advocates appeal, powerfully, to our emotions and sympathy but they deny the role of reason and the rules of public debate. Many of those who campaign to change the Constitution—backed by many millions of dollars of funding—appear to believe that they can achieve their aim by emotional blackmail and browbeating.

I find it necessary to affirm, over and again, that “it’s okay to be rational”. Denying one’s opponents the right to disagree, tearing down their posters and smothering expressions of dissent, are all indices of fascism. Yet they are justified by “liberals”. Their slogan? “Let’s treat everyone equally.”
Worse has happened. To begin with the Government got the wording wrong, I pointed it out and they had to change it. They started out with an “Equality Referendum”. Judge Cross changed that to the more honest title, “Marriage Referendum”. I have shown in repeated statements that a very strange definition of marriage will eventually emerge. Ireland has been told that “Same-Sex Marriage” is a Human Right. No nation’s constitution, no international human rights convention has accepted this. A growing number of Irish men and women openly disagree with what the noisy “Yes Side” are telling them about how they should vote.

Continue...

To The Unique and Precious Nature of Marriage

Same-sex people, who desire to love each other, do not qualify to be subsumed among those with the unique access to procreation which is at the heart of marriage between a man and a woman. They may qualify for a different kind of union with access to children through a variety of different methods. But the difference is an unbridgeable one and the language for describing that difference cancels out all attempts at invention or contrivance.

This difference, between a ‘union’ and a ‘marriage’, is the dilemma at the heart of the present debate in Ireland. Marriage is unique in nature and in human life within our society and with the societies of all nations on earth. Nature itself could not exist without the same instinctive and positive continuation of all species by procreation through the sexual conjunction of male with female.

Continue...

The Making of "Yes Equality", One, Two Three

On Tuesday 5 November 2013 the Cabinet, at its regular meeting, decided to agree to the proposal of the Constitutional Convention to hold a Referendum to introduce Same-Sex Marriage as a right in the Constitution and to change the voting age for the election of the country’s president.

From that decision on, the Referendum process we are now engaged in became a reality and the issues surrounding it became political ones. They were more profound and more complicated than was then realised and they have created a multitude of problems for people throughout the country.

Legally, the 2013 decision changed the position of financial aid provided by the American organisation, Atlantic Philanthropies, as a major benefactor of the Irish organisations that make up the Yes Side campaign. The decision changed also the status of the many people who are working for those projects receiving substantial grants from Atlantic Philanthropies.

Continue...

Alan Shatter's Irish Times Interview

In early April I sent Alan Shatter a paper put together by a group of concerned citizens and widely distributed. It was called Same-Sex Marriage in the Irish Constitution and it contained a careful and responsible analysis of all the main arguments between the YES and the NO sides in the upcoming referendum, including the issue he raised when he gave the Irish Times interview on Monday May 4 to Sarah Bardon, denying any link between Surrogacy and the Same-Sex Marriage Referendum.

Alan Shatter either read this document, which was sent to him personally by email, or he decided deliberately to ignore it. Neither course is worthy of him, in the light of what he said and what was reported as the main Page One lead in The Irish Times on Monday 4 May.

Continue...

An Open Letter to An Taoiseach about the Marriage Referendum

6 May 2015

An Taoiseach
Mr Enda Kenny TD
Government Buildings
Upper Merrion Street
Dublin 2

An Open Letter to An Taoiseach about the Marriage Referendum

Dear Enda,

As you will recall, I wrote to you on 25th February last about the referendum introducing same-sex marriage into the Constitution.

We have known each other for the whole of your political career, having first met after you succeeded your father in the by-election that resulted from his death. These were my first two years as a journalist working in the Dail. It is probable I first met you at that time. With ups and downs, inevitable in the relationship between politicians and the journalists who record their lives, I have always had an admiration for your calm style, in opposition and in power, and for a quality I have admired in you, the likeable human appeal that I think of when I think about the career of another politician I have always greatly admired, Jack Lynch. He had the common touch as you have, an ability to be naturally relaxed and friendly.

Continue...

Same-Sex Marriage in the Irish Constitution: A Private Paper

We are being asked to change marriage, from being a natural moral institution to being a constitutional construct from which meaning and traditional values will be stripped. The Government are rushing this through without adequate debate and without necessary legislative preparation.

Continue...

Unforseen and Unintended Consequences of the Same-Sex Marriage

A Study Paper on Same-Sex Marriage, by a group of citizens with advice from senior counsel and academic lawyers, has helped me in my recent lecturing and writing. This on-going work of legal and social policy analysis attempts to fill the gap caused by Government failure to conduct or publish any form of analysis of what they intend in the Referendum. The following issues are covered: the equality argument, the rights of children, solemnising marriage, blood relations, constitutional policy, educational policy and the flawed wording.

As a non-lawyer, and indeed as a non-Irish speaker as well, I became aware of the impact Same-Sex Marriage on the existing legal framework on reading the Study Paper. I was deeply shocked that the Government could not possibly be aware of this. I give here examples from the issues listed above.

Continue...

Another More Serious Problem in the Government's Way

It is good to know that the Government still has some capacity to listen to criticism. That was a the original feeling I had after the conclusion of my campaign on the ‘Flawed Wording’ of the Same-Sex Marriage amendment – wording that is now changed and was so announced by the Taoiseach on Tuesday.

However, my confidence in the capacity of our senior politicians to listen to criticism was short-lived. Within a day I received a letter from Eamon Gilmore, former leader of the Labour Party, telling me that the Oireachtas Translation Service had reassured the Government that my concerns “are unfounded and that the wording, as originally published, clearly allows both opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples to marry”. Since when did this “Service” manage constitutional texts or advise the Government on language matters?

Continue...