Stories from Ireland and Northern Ireland

With reporting from Dublin and Belfast between March 13 and 23

 

Youth soccer remains segregated sport in Northern Ireland (TheAtlantic.com) 

Fair-skinned and wiry, Grace Ritchie looks no different than the dozen other boys staying dry in the locker room on this rainy Tuesday night. But the 13-year-old is in fact an oddity on his youth soccer team.

At Irish Weddings And Funerals, Priests Pushed Away (Religion News Service)

Although many observers have noted the impact of secularization and child abuse scandals on church membership and finances, only now are the Irish seeing the cultural and socioeconomic reverberations. These include a class of people willing to observe life’s most significant milestones outside the church.

A Young Presbyterian At The Center Of Peace And Politics In Northern Ireland (Neon Tommy)

Over burritos at a Belfast restaurant recently, he spoke about how he found his faith, what Christian churches must do to keep youth engaged and the mixing of culture, religion and politics.

N. Ireland struggles to confront Catholic Church’s enslavement of 1000s of women (AMERICAblog)

In Northern Ireland, however, there is no forthcoming apology or redress for Magdelene survivors.

Pope Francis won’t change the church’s path, says Dublin city councillor (Global Post) 

Mannix Flynn said the Catholic Church needs to take responsibility for its wrongs before it can change for the better.

Jesuit priests in Ireland see hope in Francis (Global Post)

The election of the first-ever Jesuit pope signifies a desire for change in the church, say Irish priests. Can Francis avoid becoming a ‘prisoner’ of the Vatican?

Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the meaning of St. Patrick’s Day (IrishCentral.com)

The passion sparked around the globe by Ireland’s patron saint’s day

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Other Stories about the Catholic Church and the Irish

 

Religion Mixes With Politics In L.A. Mayoral Race (Neon Tommy)

Though religion and politics mixes during election season, people who study the intersection of religion and civil society say there’s not a strong religious voice at Los Angeles City Hall in day-to-day politics. But experts and community leaders say more could be done to improve the city if religious groups could consistently come together to address local issues.

LA Catholic Archiocese grooming next generation of elementary school leaders (SCPR.org)

After three decades of declining enrollment, Catholic elementary schools in Los Angeles are heartened by two straight years of growth. But archdiocese policymakers say stronger leadership and innovation are needed to keep the momentum going and to position its schools as attractive and affordable alternatives to other educational options.

Lent Becoming A Second Christmas For Charities (The NonProfit Times)

During the 40-day period before Easter known as Lent, Christians of all denominations traditionally focus on praying, fasting and serving the community. Capitalizing on that last pillar, charities that make a push for donations and volunteers during Christmas increasingly see Lent as a similar opportunity.

Can the Catholic church attract new adherents with the Internet? (SCPR.org)

Though many global religions are struggling with membership among the digitally savvy, the Catholic Church’s plight in America is especially dire because its once-preeminent role in educating its youth is dwindling.

Struggle with church continues after emigrants leave Ireland (IrishCentral.com)

Where Micheal O’Leary sought churches in America two decades ago, John Corr now looks for pubs.

Some laity specifically called for a younger, more liberal and more charismatic leader than the retiring Pope Benedict. But many parishioners said the heavy thinking should be left to the electors.

Where God Meets Gallup (L.A. Currents)

The church boasts a tweeting pastor, a webcast sermon, a gay-community outreach program, a connection to the National Football League’s most recognizable quarterback, and dozens of famous and wealthy benefactors. But does any of that make the world a better place?

Drive-Thrus, Cupcakes

Two things that would be nice:

Wait-time signs near drive-thrus for banks, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Sure, these people could end up losing business. But they might also anger customers less and, who knows, maybe the wait is actually shorter than it appears.

Pizza boxes have those nice backwards tripods in them to make sure the inside of the box top doesn’t smash into the pizza. Now that cupcakes are the craze, let’s bring something like that to cupcake boxes.

Google Maps Real-Time Taxi Data

Apps such as SideCar have set out to make it easy for people to hitchhike. People who have a car and are willing to give a ride broadcast it through the app. People who need a ride at that moment tell the app they need a ride, and the service tries to pair them up with active ride-givers in the area.

So why can’t we do that with taxis easily too? Taxis seem so inefficient. They roam around endlessly, taking people in all kinds of directions. Some cities allow you to hail down cabbies in the street. Elsewhere, you have to a call, text or use an app to reach some sort of dispatch service.

Even then, a cab might have the driver and one passenger in it. Yet, that one person headed for the airport is paying 100 percent of the fare. Imagine if the taxi driver — with the passenger’s permission — could broadcast his ability to pick up another passenger or two who are also headed for the airport along his route to the airport. An app could work that magic.

Even better for hail-down cities, those funky, often-lighted signs on the top of taxis could change colors from say green to yellow depending on if the taxi can pick up more passengers. Digitized signs could say where the taxi is headed to further simplify the process.

In that sense, taxis become more like shuttles but the environment is bound to benefit. Don’t forgot about the pocketbooks of the passengers either. Even if a taxi driver offered a slight discount, both passengers benefit from sharing the fare.

Twitter As A Public Service

So I first thought of this idea when my AC Transit bus stop was moved to a different location for a night to accommodate one of President Barack Obama’s recent campaign fund raising events in Oakland. Being Oakland and all, someone had tore up the signs meant to direct transit riders to the correct spot to wait for the bus.

I was slightly confused, but navigated to the AC Transit website and sorted things out. But imagine if I could have gone to Twitter to find a post on the top of my stream from AC Transit warning me about all the temporary changes. Saves typing, which studies smartphone users hate doing.

The same issue has come up the last two evening rush-hour periods when BART trains had to be taken out of service, causing a systemwide delay heading eastbound. The platforms in downtown ended up getting very crowded.

Google Now is aiming to fix situations like this by using its brain to be your personal assistant, but that’s not going to sit well with everyone just yet.

Instead, transit agencies and pretty much all other public agencies should be taking advantage of Twitter’s Promoted Tweets product during special events. Twitter should guarantee public agencies positioning above and over private companies during these special events. The well-known problem with Twitter is that it moves so fast, stuff gets easily lost downstream. Promoted Tweets protect against that inherent service problem.

The thorny question is whether or not Twitter to promote itself as a public service should allow public agencies to take advantage of the Promoted Tweets offering for free. While it would stand to lose some regular revenues, it could gain goodwill with the public and potentially some users who would now see a practical application for Twitter.

 

An Open Letter To ‘The Mentalist’

Dear Chris Long and David Nutter,

I was disappointed to see Special Agent Kimball Cho flush pain medication pills down the toilet on a recent episode of The Mentalist (Season 4, Episode 18).

Government agencies nationwide have been stepping up efforts to educate people that extra or unwanted pills should be disposed of properly. This keeps them out of the hands of drug abusers and protects the environment. The accumulation of pills in our wastewater system inject unnecessary chemicals into our water systems.

Government agencies, law enforcement, retailers and other partners have made it really easy for people to throw away pills at all kinds of locations. The fictional CBI office could have easily included a prescription medicine disposal bin. For a law enforcement officer to do something incorrectly is one thing, but for an agent as upstanding and by the book as Cho to not follow proper procedures is even more egregious. If this was an attempt to show the continuing degradation of his character which began with his relationship with his confidential informant, then I would say that subtlety is lost on most viewers.

I hope in future episodes you take into account what’s happening in this world and that you recognize the importance of characters such as Cho as role models.

Thanks for the terrific show.