- 09 Aug 21
He also talks about the Greens in government, climate change, biodiversity, Traveller culture, lowering the voting age, antisocial media, drugs – yes, he did inhale – and rock 'n' roll in the new Hot Press
The new issue of Hot Press contains an in-depth interview with the Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan.
A thoroughbred rock 'n' roller, he was elected to the Dáil for the first time last year at the 10th count and months later was handed his portfolio by his Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.
Not afraid to ruffle feathers, the Minister says that bearing in mind the compensation they still owe to abuse survivors, there's a case for the Catholic Church being forced to hand over some of their massive land bank for housing.
"It's terrible to think that we would have to force the church's hand, but there are church properties all over the country that could be repurposed for families to live in," he states. "They have a role to play here and they haven't stepped up."
Minister Noonan goes on to call for a total separation of church and state: "I am absolutely of the view that when it comes to schools and hospitals, we need to separate that relationship. It has been toxic."
Also discussed is August 14-22's National Heritage week, which will highlight Traveller culture.
"Without the Travelling players who've carried on the tradition, a lot of Irish music would have been lost," the Minister says. "Traveller culture is rich and should be celebrated and not hidden away. It's a challenging task and we also need hate speech legislation, which will hopefully be completed within the next year, to deal with the abuse they receive."
Asked whether their exclusion from large swathes of Irish society is a form of apartheid, Noonan says: "That's the term being used and I don't disagree with it. Their lived experience is exactly that."
He also talks to Stuart Clark about his indie days of yore, his activism, the Greens in government, climate change, reducing the voting age to 16, biodiversity, housing, drugs – yes, he did inhale – and lots more.