Counterpoint: Condoms

Counterpoint: Condoms

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Dublin, Irish Family Planning Clinic




Transmission 21/03/1991


24min 14sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Presenter Brian Black explores the opinions surrounding the availability of condoms in the Republic of Ireland. 

Serious questions have been raised over the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland, not least concerning issues such as contraception. The complexity of the issue is typified by the well-publicised Virgin store court case in Dublin. The store had a counter where they sold condoms. However, despite being able to marry at age 16, the law states that only those over the age of 18 can purchase condoms. Otherwise, condoms are only made available in doctors' surgeries, family planning clinics and chemists. 

Fr. Liam Ryan (Professor of Sociology – Maynooth) informs Black that, traditionally in Ireland, the Catholic Church regard family life and education as being under their sphere of influence and are hostile to state intervention in either area. Bishop Michael Smith disputes the assertion that the church imposes their views on the state, but affirms that they should be allowed to comment and put forward their opinion on such matters.

Speaking from the Methodist point of view, Rev. Graham Hamilton, explains that the Catholic Church sees itself in a position of power and that it believes it has an exclusive right to speak on these issues. However, he notes, people are moving away from and no longer bound to such hierarchical power structures. Kieron Wood (journalist) is inclined to think that the church exercises pressure behind the scenes, rather than being forthright in its actions. He also feels that the public are increasingly alienated from the church. 

Despite, being given a fine (which was paid by the band U2) the Virgin store is still selling condoms. According to a volunteer (Pat), the controversy has resulted in demand for condoms doubling. Christine Donaghy (Irish Family Planning Association) comments on the Heath Family Planning Act and outlines what the Association do.

Senator Des Hanafin (Fianna Fail) expresses his opinion on the selling of condoms. Comments from Dick Spicer about the church and state law. Kevin O’Kelly (Religious Affairs Commentator) speaking about the influence of the church on the public. Footage of Mary Robinson’s election speech. David Andrews, TD (Fianna Fail) gives his opinion on the selling of condoms to sixteen year olds. Proinsias De Rossa, TD, (Workers Party) speaks about the Roman Catholic church in the Republic of Ireland. Interview with Kieran Wood (Former RTE Religious Affairs Correspondent) about the church’s stance on the selling of condoms and the church’s right to comment on such matters.


A UTV production

Directed by Lynne Davidson 

Produced by Tony Curry 

Editor by Jamie Delargy,  

Appearing on the episode; Fr. Liam Ryan, Bishop Michael Smith, Rev. Graham Hamilton, Kieron Wood, Christine Donaghy, Senator Des Hanafin, Dick Spicer, Kevin O’Kelly, David Andrews, Proinsias De Rossa.






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