November 17, 1995
THE REFERENDUM in the Irish Republic on Nov. 24, to amend the constitution to provide for legal divorce and remarriage, may mark a significant step from a Catholic to a nonsectarian state. The momentum for passage comes from changes that have already occurred within Irish society.A similar attempt nine years ago backfired. But now some 75,000 marriages are believed to have broken down, a legal framework for property rights in separation has been legislated and the Catholic Church, which claims some 95 percent of the people as adherents and opposes the change, has been undermined by a few spectacular scandals involving priests.
September 29, 1997
GREAT HOPES attend the negotiations at Stormont, near Belfast, that aim to bring accommodation to the Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland, to Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, and to that republic and Britain. A business committee gets down to setting an agenda -- in itself, substance -- today.Two developments, following the second IRA ceasefire, permit optimism. One is that John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP), biggest vote-winner among the Catholic minority in the province, is not running for president of the Irish Republic, for which he is eligible.
November 2, 1990
It will be the breakthrough of the decade if Mary Robinson is elected figurehead president of the Irish Republic on Wednesday, as polls predict. Senator Robinson is female, from the un-nationalistic Labor Party and a crusader against Catholic Church influence in the laws of morality.The front-runner, Brian Lenihan of the Fianna Fail Party, is in disgrace for 1982 political behavior recently revealed. The logical beneficiary from the Fine Gael Party is Austin Currie, a former civil rights leader from Northern Ireland, about which the Republic's voters are secretly tepid.
August 18, 1998
THE CAR BOMB that exploded Saturday in the rural market town of Omagh in Northern Ireland was terrorism on the scale of the Nairobi or Oklahoma City bombings.With 28 deaths and 220 wounded, this dreadful event proved more bloody than the incident known as Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.The people in Northern Ireland, who voted for a political settlement based on shared stakes in civil society, always expected that the peace process would be challenged. Now extremists have done exactly as predicted.
March 31, 2001
WHILE POLITICIANS argue whether the reforms in a new Northern Ireland Police Service go far enough, applications to join it are flowing in from both Protestant-loyalist and Catholic-nationalist communities. The eagerness of well-qualified young Catholics, some from the Irish Republic, may force the hand of political leaders holding back approval. The goal of recruiting on a 50-50 basis between the two communities seems easily met. This comes when the IRA has resumed talks on "decommissioning" its weapons, or disarmament, after a year of boycotting the international commission charged with achieving that.
November 5, 1994
After covering the start of the present troubles of Northern Ireland in some depth years ago, I came to the conclusion that Northern Ireland would become part of the Irish Republic after:1. Drastic population change to a Catholic majority in the province.2. A strengthening of European institutions, with Ireland and Britain jointly losing sovereignty.3. Improvement of the Irish economy and welfare system to equal Britain's.4. A great secularization within the Irish Republic, the last truly Catholic country left.