Michelle Mulherin TD in her crusade against ‘fornication’ has become the Helen Lovejoy of the Dail with regular “won’t someone please think of the children” remarks. Unfortunately for her, the conservative Ireland of the 1950’s won’t return.
Mulherin has made a name for herself within both Fine Gael and Irish politics as a TD firmly on the right. Her most recent grand stand was to criticise a young adult health website for having a page on threesomes. This has made waves within the government and with her announced intentions to cut funding to the site, this story could drag out. This isn’t the first time Mulherin has drawn the spotlight on herself, she hasn’t had this much attention since her remarks on abortion in Ireland, blaming fornication for unwanted pregnancies, or when she proposed that Ireland introduce national service to end young people’s expectations of entitlements.
Her latest victim is the website spunout.ie which is a charity website funded in part by the HSE, with the aim of providing young people safe, personal and secure information on everything from drugs and sex to work and bullying. Her particular fury was directed at a page on threesomes, which outlined all the pros and cons, guidelines, safety, and protection, and undoubtedly has helped many people across Ireland. Her accusation though, was that this website was regressive and should be cut from public funding. Michelle’s logic is simple here, a website which provides substantial help to young people having personal problems is not only regressive and old fashioned, but the state doesn’t have a responsibility to fund or do any of these things.
But if Mulherin is serious about this, we must assume that she as an alternative prepared to provide better health education to young adults. We can only assume from her previous comments that she would propose the Church. This didn’t work for Ireland when the Church held a privileged position and could teach what they wanted, and it will certainly not work now. Due to the relationship between the church and state in Ireland, with Catholic control of the education system, many young people never received full sex education, and this continues today with incomplete health courses given to young people, and vestiges of the old system still remaining in some schools. Websites like this actually provide a service to the young people in the state. The influence of the church must be removed from the education system and a properly publicly-funded education system must be established.
Far from promoting the idea of ‘threesomes’, the Spunout.ie article provides information for young people. Rather than be threatened with the loss of state funding, the website should be provided for. Minister Reilly should immediately withdraw any intention to review the funding. Young people are more sexually aware than ever before and rather than pretend that they have don’t have sexual relationships, the state should be looking to provide sex education from a younger age. This should not be limited to heterosexual relationships but must include real education of issues facing LGBT people to guard against the psychological stress and bullying which is inflicted on many young people. Perhaps Mulherin should reconsider these facts before she blindly tears down the war path because she didn’t agree with a web page.