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CNS, May 2001

Sectarianism gone batty

Sectarianism in Ireland between Catholic and Protestants has been proved batty by a new scientific study.

For biologist surveying bat populations in Ireland found that two breeds prefer to nest in different churches.

The Long-Eared bat prefers Catholic churches, while the Natterer's bat prefers those of the Church of Ireland.

But the discriminating difference between the two breeds has been found to be linked to architecture rather than dogma.

The Long-Eareds prefer the timber ceilings and slate roofs of Catholic churches, while the Natterer's are more common in the open loft spaces of Anglican buildings, said the survey's co-ordinator Dr Kate McAney, Ireland's only full-time chirptologist who is conducting the first ever population survey of Ireland's seven breeds of bat.

She said the difference between the two breeds of bats comes down to the Long-Eared's preference for timber and the Natterer's preference to stone work, but added: "I find that members of the clergy think this situation quite amusing."