This is the story of a very Irish coup.
–O’Reilly, Emily. (1992) Masterminds of the right
This is a short but fascinating book. Written in 1992 it details the growth of hard-line right-wing religious individuals and organisations and their efforts to keep Ireland Catholic. I’ll admit that the blurb sounds fairly conspiracy theory “Probes the shadowy world of the right-wing forces that plotted the 1983 referendum on abortion and the 1992 Maastricht Protocol to deny women reproductive rights.” and you will be in no doubt as to O’Reilly’s feelings on the issues. But it is an illuminating look at Ireland in the 1980s and early 90s, and the power wielded by shadowy organisations and men who saw themselves as the keepers of Ireland’s soul and morals.
Utterly opposed to abortion and divorce, even to contraception, they did everything in their power to make sure that the laws of the land matched the Catholic Church’s teachings. Sure never mind that not everyone is a Catholic, and lets not even discuss what happens to unmarried mothers and children born out of wedlock. And as for the abuse rampant in the Church, well, that doesn’t mean we should listen to bishops and priests who have covered it up does it?
Of course back then little of that was up for public discussion. Some people knew, or suspected, I’m sure of it, but in most cases the Church was trusted, and authority to respect. And women were very much down the pecking order.
We’ve come a long way Ireland, and yes, there is still work to be done, but read this book and you’ll at least appreciate that we have made huge improvements and gains in human rights for all.