The integrity of Ray D’Arcy
Irish radio host Ray D’Arcy came under intense public scrutiny last week when he said on his morning radio show that the Catholic church had “in many ways…fucked up [Ireland]”. Unsurprisingly, the loudest cries of objection spired from the Catholic church itself, with Catholic communications chief, Martin Long making stern demands that the affable veteran broadcaster issue an apology and a retraction of his rather frank assessment. Long, who interestingly claimed to speak for “all those who hold the Catholic faith dear”, said that the language was deeply insulting and appalling, while the statement was fallacious. D’Arcy, however, remained defiantly steadfast in his conviction and immediately refused to conform to the demands of Mr Long. The silver-haired Kildare native insisted that, while he regretted his use of profane language, no apology for or retraction of his statement would be forthcoming.
A few things stand out about Mr Long’s criticism of D’Arcy’s comments and they raise interesting questions as to the position of the Catholic church in Ireland as the 21st century trundles onwards. Firstly, Mr Long, objecting as a communications chief of the institution of the Catholic church, claims to be a spokesperson for “all those who hold the Catholic faith dear”. Who are all of these people, one asks? Where are they? Where is their outrage? He cannot, surely, be lumping all of those who mark an “X” in the box which defines them as being of the Catholic faith – anecdotal evidence alone shows us that these individuals do not necessarily hold the Catholic faith dear. No, in reality, Mr Long is nothing more than a privately appointed mouthpiece of the Catholic church in Ireland. His criticism of D’Arcy’s comments simply reveal the reactionary nature of a church that has been rightly exposed as one of the most disturbingly corrupt institutions in the history of Ireland.
Interestingly, Mr Long argues that his gripe is not with criticism of the church per se (believe that at your peril), but with irrational criticism of the church, which he describes D’Arcy’s observation to be. Let’s look at D’Arcy’s criticism, then. It is fair to say that the sentiment behind D’Arcy’s comment was that the Catholic church has had a negative impact on Irish society. Far from being irrational, it is a truthful and brutally honest observation – one need only look at the malign legacy of their interference with state affairs: the banning of literature, strident censorship, the banning of contraception and that list is not exhaustive. Such a legacy has undoubtedly had a negative impact on Irish society, or to borrow D’Arcy parlance, it certainly has fucked up this country. The revolting actions and attitudes of certain priests and the Catholic hierarchy towards the children of the nation has also, to put it mildly, left its mark. In this sense, it is Mr Long, then, who is displaying a lack of rationality. By holding up the positive work of the church and brazenly comparing it to the inexcusable legacy of fear and abuse that it has, Mr Long is moving into the realm of the apologist, seeing what he wants to see.
So fair play to Ray D’Arcy for having the integrity to express a truth and bravo for standing up to the fascist intimidation of a reactionary group that is desperately clawing to what remnants of influence it thinks it still possesses.