J.P. O'Malley sees the possibility of a yes vote on marriage equality in Ireland at the end of this week as "the complete collapse of the old guard of archaic-socially-repressive-Catholic institutions that have dominated Irish society since the Free State was formed in 1922." As he notes, the Irish constitution enacted by Eamon de Valera in 1937 viewed "the family" in utopian terms that, at first blush, might appear charming to those who don't look beneath the surface and spot the patriarchalism hidden within its definition of family, which works against the interest of women, children, and the poor.
But the Constitution’s utopian-like references to family life became the official stamp on the hypocritical-pious-Ireland that subsequently emerged. And the self-declared secular egalitarian Republic that was supposed to come about from the 1916 Revolution remained a distant pipe dream.
Highly undemocratic, tribal, and repressive, the Irish Free State, and the Republic that came after it, increasingly became dominated by clerics and bishops, who yielded the same kind of bizarre cultish-absolutism and thirst for power that was the central driving force of far-right European fascist parties from the 1920s till the end of the Second World War.
The traditional family unit, as laid out in the Irish Constitution, has hitherto given the Catholic Church a kind of invisible wand to control the Irish population.
This may appear at first glance as a benevolent force that simply aims to promote a family-first culture at heart. But when the dusty clerical carpet is unravelled, what we see beneath its latent secrets and lies is a culture built on foundations of fear, hegemony and social control.
The Catholic Church is now so frightened of that definition of the family being eroded in Irish society that it's warned its supporters that should the Irish Republic endorse marriage equality in the forthcoming referendum, religious organisations could face legal action for refusing to marry same-sex couples in their churches.