Is any catholic country really much different?
As regards to separation between church and state, I think so, also it was the church that educated Ireland, for the most part.
e.g. in a supposedly traditional/conservative country we had female presidents, openly gay politicians etc
Communism didn't persecute women as much as Ireland did, they were part of the work force here. So there has been no real sexual revolution here the way it is in Ireland.
I would like to stress my use of the words "as much", women here are still paid less and hold lower positions of power but lets face it, an Irish president is more like a diplomat, she doesn't hold any real power, ok to veto but has she ever used it?
You have a point with gay politicians here though, I can't see it being so widely excepted here for a long time yet.
wasn't there something recently about bishops attempting to influence national governement?
Attempting to influence is a far stretch from Ireland's Government letting the church deal with the sexual assault allegations by themselves.
According to the Poles I know, outside of the cities, in Poland the local priest is still a quite powerful figure and regularly "meddles" in local politics, family life etc.
You bet, the sheer attendance rate here has a substantial effect on people, I just find now, Irish people more conservative.
This attitude would be in direct contrast to the majority of Irish people I know.
But the church can introduce a Blasphemy law in ireland, without protest.