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Catholic Archbishop of Dublin says belief has ‘vanished’ in Ireland

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Evidence of Christian belief in Ireland today “has for all intents and purposes vanished,” Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell has said. This “underlying crisis of faith” was “particularly acute among the younger generations,” he said.

“Public commentary in the media in Ireland has not been positive in its understanding of the Church and its need for vocations, and for public support of those trying to preach the Gospel,” he said.

Archbishop Farrell made the comments in an interview with the 2021 edition of ‘Síolta’, the annual journal of the national seminary at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

“The challenges facing me are pretty clear. We have an ageing clergy and very few vocations to the diocesan priesthood or religious life. There is a major decline in the number of people who actively practice and live their faith.

“Faith needs ritual, embodiment. One must see in people how faith is lived. Today the visibility of faith has for all intents and purposes vanished. I am also dealing with the legacy of sexual abuse scandals which have damaged the Church’s credibility. Since finance is a function of numbers, financial issues will arise which will be accelerated by the global pandemic and its aftermath,” he said.

“The current model of the Church is unsustainable,” he said. In Dublin there was need “for an effective programme of catechetics throughout the diocese to add to and, eventually, replace the current teaching of faith to the young. With the gradual decline of family socialisation in religion, the role of the qualified catechist will be essential. In my opinion, the handing on of the Faith to the young is one of the most serious challenges facing our Church today.”

Not pessimistic

Bishops and priests needed “to encourage a participatory institutional model of Church with a leadership of service,” central to which “is the People of God, who comprise 99.99 per cent of the Church’s members. When this is grasped all else changes,” he said.

Generally, he was “not pessimistic about the future of the Church in Dublin.” He said that “when young people volunteer to look after the sick, or the elderly, or the poor, when accompanied, it may facilitate a dynamic where the Lord starts to speak and move the heart of the young person. We need to start here rather than telling people to go to Mass.”

“This time of reduced numbers may well afford us an opportunity to be creative and to reimagine the institutional Church. We have not been abandoned by God. God is to be found in this situation,” he said.

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Truss made ‘turnips in truck’ Brexit remark about Ireland, former diplomat says

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UK foreign secretary Liz Truss told a US audience three years ago that the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Ireland would only “affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks,” a former UK diplomat said.

Alexandra Hall Hall, a former Brexit counsellor at the UK embassy in the US, disclosed on Twitter on Tuesday night that Ms Truss made the remarks to a US audience three years ago.

The former career diplomat revealed in an article she wrote in a US academic journal last year that a UK government minister made the remarks but she did not identify the minister at the time.

Last night Ms Hall Hall retweeted a tweet by Ms Truss in which the foreign secretary said the UK government’s “first priority is to uphold the Belfast Agreement” – the 1998 deal that underpins the Northern Ireland peace process. Ms Truss shared a link to her House of Commons speech in which she set out plans to introduce legislation to override the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Retweeting the message, Ms Hall Hall said: “So pleased to see Liz Truss become a genuine expert on Irish matters. She was, after all, the minister who told a US audience three years ago that Brexit would not have any serious impact in Ireland . . . it would merely ‘affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks.’”

‘Under strain’

Ms Truss told the UK parliament that the protocol had put the Belfast Agreement “under strain” because of opposition by Unionist parties, citing this as a reason to plan to introduce new legislation in the coming weeks to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Brexit deal.

Ms Hall Hall wrote in the Texas National Security Review journal last year that during her time as a diplomat in Washington, DC that Boris Johnson’s government damagingly played down the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland’s peace process in statements intended for US audiences.

She resigned from her job in late 2019 because she said she was unwilling to “peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust,” she said in her resignation letter.

In her article last autumn, she described the “turnip” remarks – without naming Ms Truss at the time – as a “low point” of her time in Washington when the UK minister “openly and offensively” in front of a US audience dismissed the impact of a no-deal Brexit on Irish businesses.

Ms Truss, then the UK secretary of state for international trade, was visiting Washington at the time to meet the then US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, both members of US president Donald Trump’s administration, and other politicians.

In the academic article, she said he had become “increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves.”

She took issue in the article – entitled: “Should I stay or should I go? The dilemma of a conflicted civil service – with the UK government’s “use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options” with Brexit.

Ms Hall joined the UK foreign office in 1986 and served in various roles around the world, including in Bangkok, New Delhi and Bogota before serving as British ambassador in Georgia.

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Fancy building your own home? Five plots for sale and what you can do

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New planning rules could shake things up and allow communities to have more of a say in what is built in their area.

They include giving neighbours the chance to veto or back proposals for new housing nearby. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill will allow ‘street votes’, with new developments being blocked if a two-thirds majority of residents do not agree to support them.

Difficulties in getting approval to build a new home – under the current or any proposed system – mean that sites with planning permission already granted are in high demand. We take a look at five around the country below – and what you could build there.

Fancy buying a plot of land to build your own home? (Scroll down for more detail about this plot for sale)

Fancy buying a plot of land to build your own home? (Scroll down for more detail about this plot for sale)

Housing Secretary Michael Gove believes giving people a say will create more backing for development, but critics claim the bill is a recipe for disaster, as it is likely to lead to more neighbours at war if people are given a veto.

In light of a potentially controversial planning environment ahead, building sites that already have planning permission granted are likely to be even more sought-after.

We take a look at five building plots for sale around the country, with asking prices ranging from £120,000 to £550,000.

Buyers should always do their own research ahead of buying a plot of land and consider using a planning consultant.

1. Building plot, £350k, Hasketon, Suffolk

This garden building plot in the village of Hasketon, Suffolk, has planning permission for a three-bed house and is being sold for £350,000

This garden building plot in the village of Hasketon, Suffolk, has planning permission for a three-bed house and is being sold for £350,000

The plot extends to 0.2 acres, and includes an existing period cottage that needs to be demolished as part of the planning consent

The plot extends to 0.2 acres, and includes an existing period cottage that needs to be demolished as part of the planning consent

This garden building plot is in the village of Hasketon, in Suffolk, and extends to 0.2 acres.

The existing period cottage has been unoccupied for a number of years, and has full planning permission to be demolished and replaced with a modern three-bedroom detached house.

The new 2,600 square feet two-storey family home will have far-reaching south and west facing views across the surrounding meadows towards the parish church.

The plot is being sold via Jackson-Stops estate agents with an asking price of £350,000.

2. Building plot, £225k, Willesborough

This plot of land in the village of Willesborough in Kent has full planning permission to build a  detached house and is being sold for £225,000

This plot of land in the village of Willesborough in Kent has full planning permission to build a  detached house and is being sold for £225,000

The new property will have three bedrooms, including a main bedroom with an en-suite bathroom

The new property will have three bedrooms, including a main bedroom with an en-suite bathroom

This plot of land in the village of Willesborough in Kent has full planning permission to build an architecturally striking detached bungalow.

The new property will have three bedrooms, including a main bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. The approved plans feature two adjoining single-storey pitched roof small barn type structures, with open plan living accomodation on one side and bedrooms on the other.

The finished building would be just shy of 1,500 square feet and the plot is being sold by Hobbs and Parker estate agents with an asking price of £225,000.

3. Building plot, Masbury, £550k

This building plot for sale in Masbury, Somerset, is on the south side of the Mendips and is being sold for £550,000

This building plot for sale in Masbury, Somerset, is on the south side of the Mendips and is being sold for £550,000

The site is south-facing and boasts far-reaching views of Glastonbury Tor, a hill near Glastonbury that is topped by the roofless St Michael's Tower

The site is south-facing and boasts far-reaching views of Glastonbury Tor, a hill near Glastonbury that is topped by the roofless St Michael’s Tower

The barn on the site has planning permission for a two-bedroom house to be built

The barn on the site has planning permission for a two-bedroom house to be built

This freehold building plot in Masbury, Somerset, on the south side of the Mendips boasts far-reaching views of Glastonbury Tor.

The barn on the site is south-facing and planning permission has been given for a two-bedroom house.

The site is being sold with an asking price of offers of more than £550,000 via Sandersons estate agents.

Mr Copley said: ‘This beautiful plot of land benefits from an idyllic rural location in Somerset, and is located right on the doorstep of the Mendips. 

‘The picturesque town of Shepton Mallet and the historic city of Wells are also a short distance away.’ 

4. Building plot, Crossgates, £120k

This building plot has planning permission for a four-bedroom detached property and costs £120,000

This building plot has planning permission for a four-bedroom detached property and costs £120,000

This building plot has planning permission for a four-bedroom detached property.

The plans for the dormer property include an open-plan kitchen and dining area, a bay-fronted living room, and a ground floor bedroom along with a bathroom.

The remaining three bedrooms are on the first floor, as well as another bathroom and a separate shower room.

There are no real-life photos of the undeveloped site in the listing. 

The site is in Crossgates, a village in North Yorkshire, and it has an asking price of £120,000. The land is being sold by CPH Property Services.

Daniel Copley, of Zoopla, said: ‘This spacious plot in Scarborough would make the perfect place for a family looking to build a home that is ideally catered to their needs. Even better for prospective buyers, it already comes with planning permission for a three or four-bedroom detached dwelling.’ 

5. Building plot, Uddingston, £179k

The building plot in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, has planning consent for a new house and is for sale for £179,000

The building plot in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, has planning consent for a new house and is for sale for £179,000

This building plot is in Uddingston, a small town in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

It comes with planning consent for a large detached home with four bedrooms, include a main bedroom with a dressing room.

The plot is currently unserviced, but the services are nearby, according to the agents handling the sale. It is being sold by Residence estate agents for £179,000.

Finance available via Help to Build

Those looking to build their own home can  benefit from a £150million Government initiative called Help to Build.

This is where an individual homebuilder will be expected to put up a 5 per cent deposit, while the Government will loan 20 per cent of the build cost, with a 75 per cent mortgage making up the rest and a ceiling of £600,000.

It is a practical option for self-builders.

‘Building your own home isn’t a dream limited to the rich or the adventurous,’ says TV broadcaster Kevin McCloud on the National Custom & Self Build Association portal. ‘Anyone can do it and the rewards are fantastic. 

‘They usually make homes which are much greener and built to higher quality standards than the norm. Savings are typically a quarter to a half of the costs.’ 

You need to do your research as there are plenty of tips to learn that can make the journey smoother.

For example, submitting a pre-application so the planners can pick what they don’t like in your plans at an early stage will save disappointment later.

About 13,000 people build their own homes in Britain every year. It is hoped that number will increase to as many as 40,000 new homes a year with the introduction of Help To Build.

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Maternity hospital debate hijacked by fear and loathing

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The fear and loathing surrounding the National Maternity Hospital debate always drops us back to the same terrifying landscape. Nuns and their media shills.

Observe the trolling of a female journalist whose stellar reporting during the Repeal campaign made her a must-read for the pro-choice side. When she outed herself as a Catholic, it caused barely a rustle – until she wrote a calm analysis of the National Maternity Hospital while omitting to savage the let’s-just-build-the-damn-thing camp. Cue the wrath of Twitter, much of it from erstwhile admirers. Being Catholic while reporting renders you suspect and here’s two fingers to your former service for the resistance.

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