On Wednesday 12th February 2014, the Hist held a debate on the motion that This House Believes the Catholic Church Can Be Salvaged. Guests included Sinéad O’Connor – singer-songwriter and commentator; Michael Nugent, playwright and Chair of Atheist Ireland; Jerry Buttimer, openly gay Fine Gael TD, chair of Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children & former seminarian; and Father Tony Flannery, religious writer and founder of the Association of Catholic Priests.
The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, Dr Diarmuid Martin, was set to chair the debate but unfortunately had to drop out last minute; activist and former Mr Gay World Max Krzyzanowski stepped up and saved the day.
This illustrious set were backed up by student speakers Ciara O’Rourke, James Larkin, Siobhán O’Shea, Colm Finlay, Alexa Donnelly and Darren O’Reilly.
The debate was notable for its lack of focus on Pope Francis or on the child abuse scandals dogging the Church: most speakers instead referred to scripture or to demographic trends to make more general arguments about the future of the Church. Sinéad O’Connor finished off the debate by arguing that the Bible and the message of Jesus dictated that organised religion must one day come to an end. After her speech and some remarks from our Chair, the vote was put to the house: the motion was rejected by a wide margin.