Michæl McFarland Campbell

Always telling the story

Archive for September, 2020

Ireland needs sick pay for all

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Many of my friends across Europe were shocked to hear that when I was first diagnosed with my Goodpasture Syndrome and its associated kidney failure, I received no sick pay from my employer. It took many months to get the Illness Benefit from the State as well. If it had not been for Andrew, I do not know what would have happened.

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, many other workers in Ireland have faced just that problem. With no legal right to sick pay, they are forced into a Hobson’s choice of going into work while sick, or else losing a portion of their income.

The (Irish) Labour Party has been calling for the government to introduce Sick Pay for All Workers since the start of this month and today we heard that the government are proposing a six month consultation on sick pay provisions.  This is just not good enough.  The pandemic is happening now.  At this rate, we could have a vaccine before we see progress on statutory sick leave from the government!

Ireland is one of the very few European countries where workers do not have a legal right to sick pay.

The Chief Medical Officer, Chief Clinical Officer and the CEO of the HSE have all come out saying that the Government needs to do something to make sure workers do not have to choose between not going to work because they may have COVID, or not getting paid.  So far, this Government has done nothing about it.

We in the Labour Party are not going to stand idly by as the health of our workers, and future of the country and this pandemic hangs in the balance, while the Government stumbles from fiasco to fiasco.


The Bill proposed by the Labour Party would introduce a temporary extension of force majeure leave so that parents can take paid time off to look after their kids if they are sent home from creche or school because the need to isolate or because the setting has had to close. This is another crucial step in providing the clarity and stability to working parents and their families across the country.

We need Sick Pay for All and we need it now.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 23rd, 2020 at 9:10 am

Will you weep with us too?

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My name is Michael McFarland Campbell. I have been working to support LGBT Christians in one way or another for a very long time. My first notes on the subject were made in the early 1990s, starting around the time that I was confirmed as an Anglican. Over the years, I have had the privilege of getting to know many other LGBT Christians. Mostly, it must be said, these have been other gay men.

In recent months, following the killing of George Floyd in the United States, a lot has been said about racism. Many people have realised just how pernicious and just how awful racism is. I have seen white, middle-class, heterosexual men weep as they begin to understand what racism means. This is a good thing. More and more people are waking up to how harmful this cancer in society is.

When I think of racism, I think of the message of St Paul to the Galatians:

for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 NRSV

When the apostle Paul wrote that, he was not writing about some future time, he was writing about how things are for those of us in Christ. How things are now, not how they will be in the future. It is not,

There will be no longer Jew or Greek…

it is,

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female.

In the clear teaching of Scripture, racism is wrong.

In these recent months, I have seen people weep when they consider the world today and the implications of Galatians 3.

But the teaching of St Paul in Galatians 3 goes beyond that of racial tolerance. It goes way beyond.

There is no longer Jew or Greek

is clearly abour race;

there is no longer slave or free

is obviously about economic inequality;

there is no longer male and female

is an obvious condemnation of sexism and—although you may not realise it—it is also condemnation of homophobia.

Racism arises from the idea that there is a difference between different ‘races’, and thatone’s race determines one’s role. Imagine a young Christian tells you that they are in love with someone. They have found the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. You would not ask what race their beloved was, and even if you did, you would not use their race to determine whether or not you thought their relationship was ‘valid’. If you say that the relationship is only permissible for certain combinations of race, then you are saying that Jew and Greek do exist in Christ: if you say that you are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians. 

Now imagine another young Christian tells you that they are in love with someone. They have found the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Do you use the sex of their beloved to determine whether or not you think their relationship is ‘valid’? If you say that the relationship is only permissible if one of the parties is male and the other female, then you are saying that there is male and female in Christ: if you say that you are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians. 

St Paul teaches us that we cannot use race when morally evaluating someone else’s relationship, and he teaches us that we cannot use gender either.

I have faced prejudice because of my sexual orientation. I have been removed from volunteer roles in the Church of Ireland because of my sexual orientation. There are clergy and members of the laity who refuse to talk to me. I have had people assume that I am somehow dangerous to children and young people. I have been physcially threatened and I have been blackmailed by other Anglicans because I am gay.

As I said, I have got to know many LGBT Christians including many other Anglicans. They have faced prejudice too. That is one of the awful things about prejudice. It doesn’t apply to individuals: it applies to groups of people. I know of parents who have disowned, or threatened to disown their gay children. I know of gay people who have been pressured into opposite-sex relationships. I know of people who have been thrown out of their parish for the perceived sin of being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. And perhaps the words of all, I have known LGBT people who have an interest in learning about the Kingdom, but have been driven away from Christ because of the attitudes that some Christians express towards gay people. 

I often hear people say things like “same-sex relationships go against everything the Anglican Church believes”. That is fundamentally untrue. There is little in traditional Anglican belief stands opposed to same-sex relationships. The fundamental Anglican beliefs, the beliefs that unite us, are clearly stated in the Word of God, the Bible; the Ancient Creeds: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed; the Thirty-nine Articles; and in the liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer1. As far as I can see, it is only in the Solemnization of Marriage that there is even a hint of the opposition.

You, I hope, will stand up to racism whenever you encounter it. You, I hope, will stand up to sexism. Will you stand up to homophobia too?

If someone is blackmailed because of their sexual orientation, will you stand with their blackmailers, or will you stand with them?

If Christian parents reject their gay son or daughter, will you stand with the parents, or will you stand with their child?

When someone is cast out from their parish because they are gay, even though there is litte in traditional Anglican beliefs that says that is wrong, will you stand with the parish, or will you extend the right hand of fellowship to the one cast out and say “we welcome you here”?

Racism is wrong. Sexism is wrong. Homophobia is wrong. All three are clearly taught in the Bible.

for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of their race, you are saying that Jew and Greek do exist in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of their job, you are saying that there is slave and free in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of their gender, you are saying that there is male and female in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

If you treat one Christian differently to another because of the gender of their partner, you are saying that there is male and female in Christ. You are rejecting the clear teaching of St Paul in Galatians.

It is our Christian duty to tackle racism in all its forms. It is our Christian duty to tackle sexism. And it is our Christian duty to tackle homophobia as well.

In the past few months, many of us have wept about the racism in the world and in the Christian Church. Many of us have wept about the sexism. How many of us have wept about the homophobia? I know I have. I have wept for the young gay man terrified that he will lose his family and his place in his church if anyone knew he was gay. I have wept for another young man who did lose those things. And I have wept for a gay Christian who was so overwhelmed by the stresses he was under that he destroyed his life with substance abuse.

The simple, plain words of St Paul to the Galatians speak to us all of equality.

Will you weep for everyone who has faced prejudice? Perhaps more importantly, will you stand up against racism, against sexism, and against homophobia as the New Testament tells us to?

This article is adapted from one written by my husband, Andrew McFarland Campbell, for a Christadephian audience.


  1.  Only in the Marriage Service in the Book of Common Prayer is there even the hint of suggestion that same-sex relationships and opposite sex-relationships are not on an equal moral footing. We have to understand that the service is the “Solemnisation of Matrimony”, the church solemnising what has already taken place. 

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 13th, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Posted in Christianity

Concerns of Former Chief Scouts of Ireland – follow up letter to the Scouting Ireland Board

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The text following was shared with me last night in order for it to be widely circulated amongst the membership of Scouting Ireland who are very concerned and worried about its lack of direction and development in line with its ethos and fundamentals.  Please feel free to circulate it as widely as possible.  Many thanks, keep safe and well but most of all keep the faith in OUR Scouting Ireland.

The Board of Directors of Scouting Ireland CLG                                
Scouting Ireland National Office                                                       
Larch Hill                                                                                            
Co. Dublin 16

31st August 2020

Re: Former Chief Scouts Concerns

Dear Board Members,

We wish to thank Adrian, Peter and Anne for meeting with us on 27th of August on your behalf and for listening to our concerns.  It was a frank exchange and we believe we made our concerns very clear, however, we feel that it is important that we reiterate those concerns in writing so that there can be no doubt regarding our fears for the future of our Movement.

Learning Review & Cronyism

As we explained we feel that the Learning Review carried out by Mr Ian Elliott was large on supposition and assumption and short on factual data to enable readers to fully comprehend the scale of the atrocities visited on youth members of Scouting over a long number of years.

As we said we are not seeking the naming of specific people but Mr Elliott says “In my view, credible allegations have been made against many national officers of the legacy scouting organisations”.  In our view it would help if we knew how many very senior officers and other volunteers at National Level were engaged in abuse and cover up.  This is important so that we can better understand how this situation came about and to ensure that the possibility of it recurring is minimised.

We also found the comments made by Mr Elliott regarding actions undertaken during the discussions on and the formation of Scouting Ireland difficult to understand.  At no point in time did he discuss with or ask questions of the Chairman of the Committee established to discuss the formation of a new association nor with the First Chief Scout of Scouting Ireland.  It is hard to understand how he arrived at his conclusions in the absence of such discussions.

Whilst we do accept that cronyism existed in our Movements and still does today there is no factual evidence presented in the Learning Review to support the contention that “In some respects, it was made even more acute by the creation of Scouting Ireland”.  We need more clarification regarding this particularly given that Adrian expressed the view that cronyism is still prevalent in Scouting Ireland.

Authority of the Board

Before discussing the Lorna Lynch report it is worth remembering that at the EGM on 6th October 2018 the NMC stated “the current board will resign tonight and the newly elected board will take up office then. Following legal advice, the outgoing Board recommend that M4 and M5 are withdrawn from the Agenda today in order for the incoming Board to take legal advice surrounding the issues involved.  At present Scouting Ireland is an Association and a Company; should the National Council vote in favour of M1 and M2 today – Scouting Ireland will become a Company only and the new Board will oversee the winding down of the Association.” 

It would seem that the transfer of power significantly changed at a later date and it would be good to understand why.

Lorna Lynch Report

We do not accept or understand the stance adopted by you the Board in not dealing with this matter appropriately and bringing this debacle to a conclusion.  It must be recognised that it is unfair to the Chief Scout, to the other respondents and to the members of Scouting Ireland who placed their trust in you.  You said that you are not in a position to discuss the matter with us because of legal advice but did not specify from whom this advice was received nor whether you the Board challenged this advice or just accepted it.

As we said in the Zoom discussion we were really perplexed as to why the situation regarding the Chief Scout has still not been resolved and unfortunately the reason posited by Adrian did not enlighten us very much.  As it happens the situation regarding the two Chief Commissioners is somewhat different given that their terms of office finished in April 2020 whereas the Chief Scouts term is due to finish in April 2021 hence our concern regarding the treatment of the Chief Scout.

The recent NMC update clearly demonstrates that there will be no progress to resolve this issue any time soon.  It may well be that what the NMC is attempting to do with regard to the winding down of the Association is complex, but surely deciding on the fate of the four respondents is not complex given that the final appeals process has been completed since May.

It is patently obvious that the NMC is either not capable of dealing with the issues expeditiously or is purposely dragging the process out for unknown reasons. 

The inordinate delay in finalising the matter flies in the face of the most recent disciplinary process established by you, as the Board of Scouting Ireland CLG, and, even more importantly, it is completely out of line with the ethos of Scouting and any normal measure of due process.  It is unfair that the process has been dragged out for such a long time with no end in sight at present.

Unfortunately, the huge amount of good work done by the Board will be for naught unless this issue is dealt with decisively and sooner rather than later.  It has the potential to result in a sizeable minority, if not majority, of the members being very dissatisfied with the Board. 

You the Board need to recognise that you do not have as much support as you may believe and this is largely attributable to the Board not grasping this nettle and dealing with it quickly, decisively and fairly.

Lorna Lynch found that “Mr. McCann did not act appropriately in relation to the Complaint in failing to disclose at the Board meeting on 11 February 2017 the fact and/or details of his meeting with the subject of the Complaint on 14 January 2017”.  She further found that “There are no other findings apart from those set out above that Mr. McCann did not act appropriately in relation to the Complaint. There are no findings that Mr. McCann inappropriately contacted the staff involved in managing the Complaint seeking to exert influence in favour of [the subject of the Complaint].”

The Chief Scout has now been out of his role for almost 29 months which, in our view, should be punishment enough for not acting appropriately as found by Ms Lynch and it is not understandable why it is taking such a long time for the matter to be concluded. 

The NMC accepted the recommendations of a subcommittee they appointed to consider what sanction should be applied to the respondents including the Chief Scout.  We believe that this resulted in the Chief Scout and the two Chief Commissioners being suspended from their roles until such time as there is a general meeting of National Council.  We do not know what the NMC intend to propose to National Council but that is the body that must approve the removal from office of a Chief Scout or Chief Commissioner.  To date there has been no indication of when or if an EGM of National Council will be convened.

In the recent update the NMC says “We cannot make any further comment at this time in respect of this matter”.  This is completely unacceptable, and it is incumbent on the Board and the NMC to issue a proper statement on the matter without delay.  We mentioned during our discussion that we feel the NMC is prolonging the issue until such time as the term of office of the Chief Scout finishes so that the whole issue will just go away.  The recent NMC update strengthens our suspicion.

In Conclusion

We believe that the You the Board need to:

  1. Develop and finalise the specific learnings to be taken from the Learning Review as a matter of urgency;
  2. We believe that the evidence underpinning the suppositions and assumptions made by Mr Elliott should be shared with the members to demonstrate why they were validly made;
  3. Exert your authority and take full control of the matters that the NMC have dismally failed to deal with, i.e. winding down of the Association and finalising the outcomes from the Lorna Lynch Review;
  4. In the true spirit of Scouting afford the Chief Scout an opportunity to finish his term in office.

It is our belief that if you were to do so you would have the support of the vast majority of the members of Scouting Ireland and it would open up a pathway to the future with much more grass root support.  

Yours in Scouting

Ken Ramsey, Donald Harvey and Martin Burbridge

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 12th, 2020 at 9:28 pm

Get the Proclamation off the National Flag

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It is most unfortunate that Carrolls Irish Gifts are advertising a version of the Irish National Flag with the Proclamation of the Republic in 1916 emblazoned upon it. The guidance on the National Flag from the Government of Ireland is very clear.

The National Flag should never be defaced by placing slogans, logos, lettering or pictures of any kind on it, for example at sporting events,
§13, The National Flag accessed 2020-09-12 at https://assets.gov.ie/2949/151118153516-096a94ba6955435cae965414f7667104.pdf

§13, The National Flag

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 12th, 2020 at 3:29 pm

An exploration of some heritage sites around Portarlington and Co. Laois

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An interesting few hours was spent this afternoon in the company of Mr John Stocks Powell, an historian with a particular interest in Portarlington and environs. Having met him by chance about a month ago, whilst out for a walk near Killenard, he invited us to go on a tour of some local places of interest. Unfortunately, Andrew was unable to go as he was working so it was just two of us.

Lea Castle and deserted mediæval village

Branches blocking the way to Lea Churchyard, Co. Laois
The way is blocked: the main street of Lea is inaccessible from the road. Photo: © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell.

We started our tour by parking in what would have been the village green of the now deserted mediæval village of Lea. We saw the ruins of Lea Castle from the road. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to access the Castle as the landowner has blocked access. Across the village green (or as it now is the road) is the main street of the village that led to the Parish Church at Lea. Sadly we were unable to walk up the main street as there were branches blocking the way (see picture). However, it was possible to walk alongside the main street in the adjoining field and further up, I was able to get into the old road and be able to photograph the archway and steps with coffin rest in the churchyard wall (see picture below).

The arched gateway on the left and the steps and coffin rest in the wall to the right. Photo: © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell.

We walked right to the back of the churchyard and saw the old road continue along past it on the south of the churchyard. As we returned through the field we had a great view of Lea Castle itself.

The ruins of Lea Castle, Co. Laois, near Portarlington. Photo: © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell

The mediæval parish church of Lea used to be in the old churchyard here with the first record being in the fifteenth century. but was removed to the new Lea to the south of the town of Portarlington. At the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871, the parish church was changed from Lea to Portarlington (St Paul’s).

Emo Court: Father Browne, the Titanic, and the Earls of Portarlington

The former seat of Lord Portarlington, Emo Court is now in the hands of the Irish State having been also a Jesuit Noviciate, and in private hands when it was restored. Outside the main door of the house are two heraldic tigers holding the arms of Damer. Only one could be see today as the other is still covered up to protect it.

Heraldic tiger supporting the arms of Damer at Emo Court. Photo: © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell

Although the house is closed at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, within it there is an exhibition about Father Browne who famously photographed the Titanic. Although he had been offered passage by some friends aboard the White Star liner to continue the journey to the United States, when he sought permission from his Jesuit superior he was told to come ashore at Queenstown. As a result, we have the many photographs that he took from the liner.

Emo Court from the garden. Photo © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell

After a quick cup of tea and some delicious lemon meringue pie in the tea room (highly recommended) we set off for the third place on the itinerary.

The Rock of Dunamase

Today is Gibraltar National Day, so it seemed highly appropriate that wearing a Gibraltar FA top, I visited another “Rock”. At the bottom of the Rock there is a small Church of Ireland church called “Holy Trinity The Rock” but also known as Dysartenos. Unfortunately, it was not open.

Holy Trinity, The Rock, Co. Laois. Photo: © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell

But the main attraction at this site is the castle that is on the top of the Rock. It must have been some sight when it was still in full glory. It is quite some sight still even though it is now in ruins.

The ruins of the Castle at the Rock of Dunamase. Photo: © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell

According to the OPW information sign,

Dunamase Castle was founded in the late 12th century on the site of a 9th century dún or fort.

It passed into Anglo-Norman possession on the marriage of Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough to Strongbow.

OPW Sign at the Rock of Dunamase

The site is quite steep in places and we were very wary of getting stuck and being unable to come back down the gravel paths. So, seeing the two-storey solar at the top of the hill near the rectangular great hall, will have to be for another occasion.

Thanks to my tour guide

My tour guide: John Stocks Powell at Dysartenos church. Photo © 2020 Michael McFarland Campbell

I am really grateful to my tour guide for giving of his time this afternoon to both drive and talk about the sights that we saw. Hopefully, we will be able to hear more and talk more when he is next in the area.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 10th, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Our Lady of Sorrows

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We were reminded yesterday that September is the month of Our Lady of Sorrows by Fr Sam.


In response, here is, newly typeset, The Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

September 2nd, 2020 at 2:22 pm