HAI Newsletter March 2017


e-Newsletter March 2017
First Sunday Meeting 5 March 2017


 The HAI have a long and proud tradition of campaigning for equality
for the Non-Religious. More recently a (re) gathering has taken place
of new and existing volunteers to work on those campaigns prioritized
by the HAI membership at 2015/2016 Strategic Plan workshops.
This year’s campaigns include: Baptismal Certificate campaign –
Blasphemy – Dignity in Dying – Employment Act Section 37.1 –
Oaths & Affirmations – Repeal the 8th.
We are actively restarting our Education Campaigns Team and
encouraged by the support received – at the meeting we will give an
update on the recent Equate Conference where speakers included the
Minister for Education Richard Bruton, TD and Professors John
Coolahan and Karin Fischer.
The March 5th Meeting is a chance to re-introduce ourselves, share
plans for 2017, gather membership feedback, seek your assistance and
support, with opportunity for new campaign volunteer sign-up on the

 L-R Brian Whiteside,
Mairéad Doyle, Laura Ní Mhaille, Terry Flynn

Some of the Campaigns Team attending the recent
conference – Dialogue
on Education Reform

with speakers including Professors John Coolahan and Karin Fischer
and the Minister for Education. We were delighted to represent as
members of the HAI.

ACTIVELY SEEKING:  Campaigns Media & Publicity Liaison
person to link in with HAI Media and Publicity  team. If you can
help, please email [email protected]

– Mairéad Doyle, Chair, Campaigns


General Meeting for Members on 12 March


A General Meeting for Members will be held at 2.00 pm
in the Ashling Hotel on 12 March.
According to the HAI’s Constitution, an election of a new Board is
not permitted at an EGM. A new Board cannot be elected until the next
AGM in November 2017.
During the meeting on the 13th of March, we propose to co-opt three
additional members to the Board. We’d also like to use the meeting to
further update members on our work. We will outline our ‘programme of
activity’ up to the AGM in November 2017.
We encourage members to attend as it is your opportunity to meet,
discuss and agree the roadmap for the future development of the HAI
over the coming year.
It is also an opportunity to ask questions in an open and inclusive
way so we can all agree and move forward with the important work the
Transition Team Board was tasked with when the previous Board
resigned in November.
If you have any pressing strategic issues you wish to bring to the
General Meeting please send them to Kilda Taylor, at [email protected], by Friday March 3
following which we will circulate an updated agenda.
Our proposed agenda is:
Opening and welcome
Transition Board report and update
Announcement of new board members
Members contributions (TBA)
AOBThe Transition Team looks forward to meeting as many members as possible on the day.

Terence Saunders
Steve Rawson
Geraldine O’Neill 
Peter Deeney


March for Repeal, 8th of March


 This year on International
Women’s Day, the 8
th of March 2017 at 5.30pm,
members of the HAI will be joining the Coalition to Repeal the 8
Amendment to March4Repeal. Anyone who’s interested in joining us at
the March4Repeal, can contact Shona at [email protected]
for information about meeting up.


Report of First
Sunday Meeting 5 February 2017: History of Humanism in Ireland



 Almost 50 people attended the meeting to learn about
earlier Humanist associations which eventually resulted in the
establishment of the current Humanist
Association of Ireland. A very comprehensive and well researched
presentation was delivered by Nic Johnson and his wife Rosemary
Cullen.  The meeting was chaired by Alan Tuffery.
 The first humanist association was formed by John
Swift in 1933 with the aim of asserting the right to complete freedom
of thought and speech.  The group, which was called The Secular Society,  met in
Lincoln Place, but was strongly opposed by powerful clergy who used The Irish Catholic to publicise
the Catholic Church’s disapproval.  The Society was disbanded in
A new association emerged in 1941 called The Rationalist Press Association with
the aim of promoting freedom of thought.  This Association also
attracted a hostile reception, and could only meet through word of
mouth which made it difficult to recruit members.  Meeting took
place in secret in Ranelagh and Rathmines.  They established a
humanist library, and Hilton Edwards spoke at one of their meetings,
but they were unable to campaign openly.
There were no other formal humanist groups until the Humanist Association was
established in 1966.  The Association took on many issues that
were emerging in the sixties, such as religion in education, health,
family and the law.  In 1987-88, the Association was vocal on
issues such as reimbursement of the State with proceeds from the sale
of religious properties, the Education Act, and State payments to
school chaplains.
In 1991, the
Humanist Association of Ireland was launched.  Dick Spicer
was active in writing newspaper articles to educate the general
public about various issues, including religion and education, family
planning and assisted dying.  The Association grew and was
established in its current structure, adding groups also in Cork,
Galway and Waterford.  The first newsletter was published in
Many of the same issues are still being pursued today
– with the overall aim of creating a secular society which separates
Church and State. Current campaigns include schools admissions
policy, repealing the 8th amendment, providing for dying with dignity,
and repealing the legislation which makes blasphemy an offence.
Membership has now grown from 30 in 1993 to 1,400, and many members
are very active in campaigns, chaplaincy, and working as accredited
HAI celebrants.

 – Owen


Holocaust Memorial Day


Dr John Bosco Conama, Centre for Deaf Studies Trinity College Dublin
and Paul Alford, Inclusion Ireland, lighting candles in memory of the
people with disabilities who were murdered during the Holocaust.
Photo: Tommy Clancy

Terry Saunders, Transition Team Chair, attended the recent Holocaust
Memorial Day at the Mansion House.

Terry writes: The Commemoration
provided the opportunity to remember, honour, and respect the
memories of so many lost and valuable loves – a combination of music,
readings, and the hugely important symbolism of the lighting of
candles –  not only to represent all the Jewish lives lost, but
also others, including people with disabilities, members of the Roma
community, LGBT victims, and all those deemed unfit to live by their
oppressors. To highlight the fact that these atrocities have sadly
not been consigned to history, stark reminders of more recent horrors
such as Darfur, Sudan and Rwanda were interspersed with images from
the Holocaust.

It is an honour to represent the
HAI on occasions such as this.


Report of Darwin Day Lecture


Instead of being held on the great man’s birthday, which fell on a
Sunday this year, the Darwin Day Lecture was on Thursday 16
in Trinity College, Dublin.

Dr Emmeline Hill of the Equine Research Unit in UCD has published
more on the genetics of thoroughbred racehorses than anyone else and
comes from a horse-racing family which made her ideally qualified to
speak on
Artificial selection in the genomics age –
lessons from the racecourse

The lecture ranged from high-tech recent genetics research on the
factors governing speed and endurance In racehorses to the actual
performance of horses in races. There were also many  pictures
of beautiful horses. At the same time there was a strong thread of
realism . Dr Hill’s familiarity with the business enabled her ask really
good questions about historical performances to test her ideas about
the genetic influences. There was also a thread of ethics: after all,
horse-racing is a multi-million euro industry related to gambling.

Dr Hill pointed up the developments from Darwin’s own time: he of
course had no information about the mechanisms of  inheritance,
although he recognised the significance of human influence on species
via controlled breeding of ‘animals under domestication’.

An audience of about 60 was well entertained by an enthusiastic,
top-flight expert and excellent communicator. This was an appropriate
celebration of  Darwin and his importance to our view of
ourselves and our world.

– Alan Tuffery


Chaplaincy News


The HSE Chaplaincy Council held a focus group to
understand what patients expect from the chaplains and what their
experiences have been. 
Four of our HAI members
who were patients or past patients participated, including Keane
Harley and Nic Johnson from the chaplaincy team. Feedback is
expected at the next HSE meeting on March 21st to see what the
experiences of the different faith groups has been.

If you have an interest in the chaplaincy team and
wish to offer your support, or have any questions regarding current
activities/documentation please email [email protected]
to get in touch with the team.
– Oisin Carey
Chair, Chaplaincy Committee


Media & Publicity Group Update


to right: Eamonn Farrell, Áine O’Connor, Steve Rawson

The Media and Publicity Group recently held their monthly meeting on
the 19th of February in Stephen’s Green Hotel.

Three new members attended – Clare Kilmartin, Tony Purcell and Sarah
Ní Riain. We have now broken the group into four key areas:

Governance (incl media toolkit and handbook)
Website (updates, design)
Branding/Graphic Design
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter)

Each of the above areas has a lead person who will give a summary
update at upcoming M&P meetings.

Thanks to Steve Rawson, Eamon Farrell and Gwen Boyle who are working
on the Media toolkit, to Pat Clarke-Browne for his work on the
website and to  Daphne Wynne / Tony Purcell for their work on
branding and graphics.

Would you like to share your skills in any of the above areas? Are
you an early riser who likes a good cup of coffee and engaging
conversation?  Then join us at our next meeting on Sunday, 26th
March at 10:30.   Email the Chairperson:  [email protected] 


Website Design Group – Can You Help?


Media and Publicity Group Expressions of Interest –
Website Design

The Media and Publicity
Group seeks Expressions of Interest from HAI members with
Website Design and copy-writing experience to form a Website Design
group under the remit of the M & P group.  This  group
is needed to re-design the Home Page, install a Press Room with links
to our Social Media platforms and to carry out an overall review and
update of Website copy.  Email: [email protected]
with a summary of your experience and your availability. 


Update from Regional Groups


: Cork Humanists, Humanists West, West Limerick/
Kerry, Kilkenny Humanists, Midwest Humanists, North Coast Humanists,
North Dublin Humanists, North West Humanists, South Dublin, Waterford
Humanist, West Cork Humanists Westport Humanists and Humanist Families.

2 people from each of the local groups invited to attend quarterly

Steering Group: 4 reps from the group, currently
Charlie Clarke, Peter O’Hara, Caroline Clarke and Fachtna Roe. 2
additional members to be added in 2017 to give a wider geographical
representation. The steering group are tasked to work on preparing
mou, guide to setting up new groups etc. to be brought back to the
main group for comment / approval. They also organise and facilitate
the regional meetings and send a rep for the regional groups to the
HAI Management Committee.

paperwork is emailed out in advance of meetings, and meeting notes
are supplied to all following the quarterly conference whether or not
they have attended. Updates from the regional groups are fed into the
management committee by the rep – currently Caroline Clarke who
contacts each groups rep in advance of a Management committee

quarterly conferences currently held in Portlaoise & bi-monthly
steering group meetings in various locations.  (Groups have
voted to defer Quarterly Conferences until after the upcoming EGM)

Updates from Local Group Convenors: all contact details for local groups are on the website here

Humanist Families:

 The group have had a number of very successful meet-ups – parents have
expressed a relief at being able to talk freely about school access /
lack of religion with similar minded people. The most recent meetings
were held in IMMA again and at the National Gallery / Merrion square,
feedback from parents includes the need for a coming of age ceremony
& a humanist statement / leaflet for schools to express our
beliefs or lack of!! The group hope to organise a BBQ in summer 2017

Westport Humanists:

Continue to meet monthly at the Wyatt Hotel Westport at 12 o’clock on the
second Sunday of every month.
Group is gradually
taking shape.  Had a guest speaker lately which was very well
received and promoted lots of discussion. We celebrated Darwin day
which was also our second anniversary with a group lunch and were
delighted some of our friends from the Galway group could join us.

Kilkenny Humanists 

continues to meet monthly on 2nd Friday of the month in the Brógmaker. Patrick
Cassidy has stepped up as Convener. We have so far completed three
information tables, held on Saturdays under the Tholsel. Attendance
remains strong, though unpredictable. We have experimented slightly
with the format of the meetings, and are putting in to effect the
broad-strokes of the guide for meetings from the MOU.

Mid-West Humanists:

Formal meetings once a month with 15-20 regular attenders we also meet for
brunches and social occasions. Set up info table for blasphemy day,
attended a death café, begun broadcasting a Humanist radio programme
on Limerick Community radio one Sunday a month and organised a very
successful Winter /Solstice dinner party for Dec 21
st with
over 30 people attending including visitors from other regional
groups. We celebrated Darwin Day with a Brunch on the 12

Humanists West

Meet on the last Sunday of each month at the Anno Santo Hotel, Salthill.
Numbers attending range from 8 to 15. The group welcomed the
development strategy for the HAI and will engage as a regional group.
Jenny Fox Lennon is the Chairperson/Convenor and Garry O’Lochlainn is
our  Secretary/Recorder. Seamus O’Connell is our Treasurer. We
also have a steering committee, who will meet independently of our
monthly meeting and plan our activities for 2017.

 Dublin South Central Humanists

Meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month in the Nutgrove Shopping Centre (the coffee concourse). John
Leahy and Terry Crilly would like to encourage any Humanist members,
or like-minded people drawing broadly from the areas of Dublin 6, 6W,
2, 8, 10, 12, and 14, to join them for a social chat, exchange of
views etc. and from there we can develop into an active discussion
group along the lines already successful in local groups in many
areas around the country. [email protected]


Cork Humanists:

Meet monthly and have been actively volunteering with Cork Penny Dinners.
Their next meeting is on March 7
in Bar Boq, Bridge Street 7.30PM

Meeting is open to all, members and friendly
non-members. Guest Speaker will be Sandra Duffy on the topic of
Repealing the 8th. Please try to arrive on time.

 North Coast Humanist group

Is thriving and 4 of us are now fully paid up members of HAI. We have
about a dozen regular attendees of meetings. Fachtna Roe joined us
for our annual dinner in January. We appreciated the time and effort
involved in his journey to get to us. We have our own Facebook page
and welcome new members to almost every meeting.

North Dublin Humanists:

Meeting regularly and it’s all going grand. Probably need to sort out a new venue (or
possibly a different day in the same venue). We are trying to have a
topic for conversation at each meeting and once we get a bit more
established we will try to do some different things like meet for a
walk etc.

North West Humanists:

Have not met for a number of months however have developed a contact list and there certainly is
interest so are hopeful of hosting meetings sometime in 2017.

Waterford Humanists:

The Waterford Group has spent the last year consolidating and identifying
a meeting time and place which suits most of us. We have set out an
ambitious plan for 2017. This sets special emphasis on raising the
profile of humanism locally by getting involved with other community
groups and establishing our presence in the area. We are also
identifying socially important campaigns with which we can get
involved and help out. It is going to be a busy year. 

Kerry / West Limerick Humanists:
The group are very much at the forming stage and held two coffee meet
ups last year. They look forward to more meetings in 2017.

The South Dublin Humanist Community:
Got off to a good start this year with an informative and
entertaining talk by Evelyn Cusack in January attended by 42 people.
Our February speaker was Ivana Bacik who talked about our aspirations
for a secular Ireland, the opportunities and the challenges for
change, attended by 53 people. On Monday 13
th March
Duncan Stewart will address “The Impacts Projected for Climate
Change: the Urgency to Mitigate GHG Emissions”. Let’s have a really
good turnout to hear Duncan speak on this hugely important issue.
Please note that from April on our meetings will be held on the First
Tuesday of the month in the Royal Marine Hotel – ALL WELCOME!

West Cork Humanists: continue
to meet regularly – please email [email protected] if
you are interested in finding out more.

– Caroline
Clarke, Chair, Regional Groups


Contributions from Members


If you have constructive comments or feedback on this
e-Newsletter, Board meetings, the organisation in general, and/or are
able to contribute to the goals of the HAI in any way, please let us

And if you have news items or links you would like to
share with other HAI members, please send them for possible inclusion
in the e-Newsletter by the 25th of the month.

We would very much welcome your contributions!
The email address is [email protected]


Living Wills


Advanced Healthcare Directive

Advance directives are written legal documents by which patients
express their wishes about the kind of health care they want to
receive in the event they become unable to make their own treatment
decisions. This usually means if he or she is physically or mentally
incapacitated or otherwise unable to makes these desires known. They
are designed to allow competent patients the opportunity to guide future
health care decisions. Advance directives include living wills and
medical powers of attorney, sometimes called durable powers of
attorney. It takes the decision away from family members, thus
reducing their stress at a vulnerable time.

More information is available from http://www.worldrtd.net/organization/living-wills-trust-lwt or
contact Daphne Wynne, 01 2802879, for further information.

In this issue:


First Sunday
Meeting 5 March 2017


General Meeting
for Members on 12 March


March for
Repeal, 8th of March


Report of First
Sunday Meeting 5 February 2017: History of Humanism in Ireland


Holocaust Memorial


Report of Darwin
Day Lecture


Chaplaincy News


Media &
Publicity Group Update


Website Design
Group – Can You Help?


Update from Regional


from Members




– 20 years on


Divorce – 20 years on


Brian Whiteside gives the humanist view on divorce in
an article in the Irish Examiner here


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Association of Ireland  •  34B Royal Terrace West  •
Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin Ireland


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