A strange thing happens the Irish Liberal when he/she catches sight of a crozier: their brains stop functioning. A remarkable phenomenon worthy of inclusion in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, it has been a consistent feature of Irish commentary for the past thirty years.
The two main scouting associations in the South wanted to merge. One of them, Scouting Ireland (CSI), is the scouting wing of the catholic church.
The catholic bishops made it clear that they didn’t want the merger going ahead because then they would have no scouting wing.
The Irish Liberal trembled with indignant outrage.
Wasn’t this a case of an old McQuaidesce hierarchy exercising their discredited and malign lust for civil power?
Well no, actually, it wasn’t. And if the Irish Liberal wasn’t blinded by a visceral hatred of anything to do with the Catholic Church they might see that the bishop’s position on this matter is well in line with the fundamental principles of a liberal society.
The fundamental principle I have in mind is pluralism. From the word plural. As in more than one.
There are two ways of looking at this. Suppose you are a little scout. You join the local troupe (or whatever they’re called). You don’t like the scout leader. Tough. Your alternative choice of scouting organisations has just been merged.
Secondly, and just as importantly, the Catholic Church is entitled to have its own scouting organisation. In fact, they are entitled to run their own lap dancing clubs if they want. They are entitled to set up and maintain any organisation they damn well want.
It’s called freedom. If you don’t like it, don’t join. It’s as simple as that.
The merger issue was one that was dressed up by the Irish Liberal as an anti-dote to sectarianism and that the Catholic Church were standing in the way.
This was untrue. Although the Scouting Association of Ireland has protestant roots, its current membership is overwhelmingly catholic.
The protestant organisations, the Boys Brigades and so on, are not involved in this merger so it beats me where the sectarianism issue arises.
If it was the case that catholic and protestant groups were uniting I would applaud because the fight against sectarianism takes precedence over pluralism. This is why the ending of segregated education in the North is justified over the nominal rights of the various religions to run their own schools.
So let’s do a count. Before this merger there was one secular scouting organisation and one catholic scouting organisation. Now there’s just one secular group.
I don’t know any of the scouting issues involved. I’m sure there are many good reasons for the merger.
But any genuine liberal would mourn the loss of diversity. The Irish Liberal has yet to grow up and free his or her mind from the fog of rage that descends whenever the catholic church is mentioned