August 2016 e-Newsletter

August e-News

Volunteer Vacancies
Forum on Education Campaign – First Sunday Meeting 7 August
Report of First Sunday Meeting – 3 July Why Science Has Made Humanism Inevitable
All-Ireland Summer School 26-28 August
Education Equality: Gathering for Change Rally 3 July
Volunteer Chaplain Training 16 – 17 July
HAI Joins the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment
Local Humanist Groups
HAI stand at GPO
IHEU Members’ Newsletter
Back issues
Contributions from members
Living wills and planning ahead

Volunteer Vacancies

NOTE: All positions are operated on a voluntary basis. Videographer(s) & Video Editor(s)
Seeking volunteer(s) with/without own equipment.We have an urgent need for a person or persons to assist with recording the First Sunday Meetings and to create a 30-minute webcast programme of this for inclusion on social media and on our website. The objective of the recording is to promote the aims and campaigns of the HAI, and to provide members who cannot travel an opportunity to keep informed.

You should have some experience with operating digital equipment, and/or with using editing software. One person is unlikely to have all the skills and/or equipment to help with this, so if you have an interest your skills and knowledge may well be the missing part of the puzzle.

Please send CV with cover letter to [email protected]

Volunteer Liaison Manager
HAI is a volunteer organisation, relying in the first instance on its members’ skills for its campaigns for equality for the non-religious.

We need a person with previous volunteer management, or good HR skills, to assist us in processing offers of assistance and in the management of our volunteers. Our volunteers should be interviewed and assessed, and guided to their best niche. Thereafter they should be provided with access to support or reporting in order to ensure that Association targets are achieved, but also provided with assistance should the tasks or hours contributed pose difficulties.

You will be working with the Director of Membership in the first instance.

Please send CV with cover letter to [email protected]

Experienced Coder(s)
Have you previous experience at coding, or web-application creation?

If you have some coding experience in one or more of: C, Javascript, perl, PHP, SQL you can help with building our information system for members.  Our most pressing need is for those who have experience of coding in a Linux web environment, either at the back-end or in front-end interactivity.

If you have such experience, we’d like to make use of it! There is a requirement to attend some meetings, but for the most part you will be able to work from home for a few hours a week. If you have project management experience, so much the better. You must be a self-starter and willing to learn and adapt.

Please send CV with cover letter to [email protected]

Apprentice Coder(s)
Have you some previous learning (or experience) at coding, or web-application creation?

If you have some coding knowledge in one or more of: C, Javascript, perl, PHP, SQL you can help with building our information system for members.  Our most pressing need is for those who have experience of coding in a web environment, either at the back-end or in front-end interactivity.

If you have such experience but feel that you will need assistance and guidance, this could still be an opportunity to contribute to making our information system great. There is a requirement to attend some meetings, but for the most part you will be able to work from home, with access to support, for a few hours a week. You should be a self-starter and willing to learn and adapt, and strive to achieve proficiency.

Please send CV with cover letter to [email protected]

System Administrator
Have you experience administering in a *nix environment?

If you have some experience in the administration of a *nix environment, and are comfortable with system administration generally, config files, user admin, administration of Apache, MySQL, you can help with building our information system for members. You will also have some knowledge of project management.

Please send CV with cover letter to [email protected]

NOTE: All positions are operated on a voluntary basis.

Forum on Education Campaign – First Sunday Meeting 7 August

The meeting will be chaired by Fachtna Roe, who is a Director of the HAI.  He will discuss Rule 68 which has already been removed, but the curriculum has not been changed.The meeting will discuss educating Ireland equally and will deal with what needs to be done to make the removal of Rule 68 a reality in national schools.

Report of First Sunday Meeting – 3 July Why Science Has Made Humanism Inevitable

David McConnell, who gave the talk at the First Sunday Meeting on 3 July,  is well known to HAI members as the Honorary President of HAI and the Chair of the Darwin Day lectures.

A life-long humanist, David was Professor of Genetics in Trinity College, Dublin, where he oversaw the huge advances made in that discipline over the last 50 years.  He has written and spoken widely on humanist and scientific values.  Among his public roles, he was Chairman of the Irish Times Trust and of the Adelaide Hospital.  He has recently been elected a Pro-Chancellor of Dublin University.  David provided a summary of his talk as follows:Modern humanism emerged during the Renaissance with the discovery of the lost literature and ideas of ancient Greece and Rome. Gradually art, literature and science were liberated from the control of the Church. The most decisive break occurred when Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and Newton showed that the Earth orbited the Sun and not vice versa, rejecting the natural philosophy of Aristotle and the schoolmen, and establishing the scientific method as the only reliable method of finding objective truths about the natural world. By the end of the 17th century the question became not whether science conformed to religion but whether religion conformed to science. In 1949 Hubert Butterfield wrote:The result (of the scientific revolution) was …. a civilization that could cut itself away from the Graeco-Roman heritage and … from Christianity itself – only too confident in its power to exist independently. What was emerging was a civilization exhilaratingly new perhaps, but strange as Ninevah and Babylon. That is why since the rise of Christianity, there is no landmark in history, that is worthy to be compared with this. The new science depended on free exchange of ideas, tolerance of differences and the resolution of differences by rigorous rational discussion based on evidence. Science proved the value of freedom of thought and opened the way for humanism. It became clear in the 17th and 18th centuries that freedom of thought was important for all human activities. This freedom became the central principle of the Enlightenment, promoting new kinds of politics, economics and law, what today we call democracy, in which religion has little or no influence. In the West it is now generally accepted that people are entirely responsible for the conduct of their affairs both as individuals and in society. That is what we mean by humanism and leaves no role for the supernatural.The challenges for us now are to explain humanism as more than just a denial of the supernatural, to make the fundamental principles of humanism better known, and to show that humanism, unlike atheism, has a positive commitment to strengthening the ethical core of our society. Science and humanism are natural allies in meeting these challenges.The most remarkable recent achievement of science has been to show through the studies of biochemistry, genetics and evolution that people are animals and that the human world is part of the natural world. There is no borderline between the living and the non-living, and none between humans and non-humans. So we are now engaged in discovering scientific explanations for all human behaviour, in proving what Francis Crick calls the incredible hypothesis. We can confident that we will eventually succeed because, in the words of Jacob Bronowski, science has given us:

deeper illuminations in whose light justice and injustice, good and evil, means and ends are seen in fearful sharpness of outline.

The discussion revealed that a great deal remains to be done to gain the general recognition that science is superior to non-science. Much of the opposition is based on ideology or faith, not argument. Authority in science is based on expertise, rather than status. Religion provides a bulwark against fear of death; science urges rather the enjoyment of the world as it is.

David McConnell
   HAI President

All-Ireland Summer School 26-28 August

The theme for this year is Climate Change.

The information listed below is a preliminary sketch of what will be a wonderful few days in Carlingford.  Nearer the date, we will confirm speakers and workshops.
Global warming may not sound too bad, but climate chaos is in fact a more apt description of our future, and the chaos is unlikely to stop at climate.

This year the All Ireland Summer School will focus on Humanism and Climate Change and discuss how we can expect increasing conflicts over diminishing resources such as oil, land and water, escalating extinctions of wildlife, more frequent humanitarian disasters, and mass migrations of refugees from areas where food crops no longer grow.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • John Barry, Professor of Green Political Economy, School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at QUB will speak on Climate Justice
  • Eamon McCann, Journalist and Author, campaigner for social justice will speak on Paths to Sustainability
  • Duncan Stewart, Award-winning Architect and Television Producer, has been a leading Irish advocate for environmental, health and conservation issues for over 40 years.
  • Kate Ruddock, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Friends of the Earth, Ireland

The dates are Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning, of 26th-28th August 2016.  We meet informally on the Friday night in the Carlingford Arms, then we have sessions on Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday until lunchtime in the Heritage Centre, at the foot of Slieve Foy, the highest peak on Carlingford Mountain.

Ticket Price is €30 for Saturday and €15 for Sunday.  For the unwaged, half-price applies to the ticket price.

On Saturday night we have a dinner and entertainment. If you wish to attend the dinner, the cost is €30.00

If you plan to come for two or three nights, it is important to book accommodation early.

You will find the registration form and payment details on the HAI website here

Education Equality: Gathering for Change Rally 3 July

Hundreds of parents, children and concerned citizens gathered on 3rd July to call for equality in the Irish education for people of all beliefs. Many travelled from outside Dublin.

The HAI were represented in the march by a contingent of members carrying HAI placards and banner.  150 children’s handprints were brought to the march, and have been presented to the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton.

It was a day of energy and enthusiasm for equality in education for all of the children present and around the country.

Many thanks to HAI members who represented the HAI & Education Equality for organising this rally and their work on educational access and respect.

See you at the next rally or in the meantime if you want to personally support Education Equality, you can find them at  their web site.

Terry Flynn
   Director of Campaigns

Volunteer Chaplain Training 16 – 17 July

A very successful training session for Volunteer Chaplains was delivered on 16 – 17 July in Cashel by trainers from the British Humanist Association.  12 HAI members participated in the course, and it is intended to have a further training session later in the year.

Front row:
Joe, Aidan, Shona, Eileen, Philip, Keane, Terry, Dermot,  Fiona, Anna, Paula
Back Standing:
John, Oisin, David BHA, Amy BHA,Carrie BHA,Simon BHA, Willie

HAI Joins the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment

left to right: Shona Weymes,HAI Campaigns Team,  Ailbhe Smyth, Convenor, Repeal the 8th Coalition, Ronán Ó Dálaigh, Director of Education, HAI

The Humanist Association of Ireland has joined more than 50 organisations in calling for the repeal of the 8th amendment which has impeded appropriate legislation in this area.

During consultations held during the development of our Strategic Plan, repeal of the 8th amendment was specifically identified as a campaign which had widespread support within our organisation. The Humanist Association of Ireland recognises the controversy on abortion, but emphasises the need for a compassionate response to women with crisis pregnancies. To this end it supports the availability of necessary and medically safe abortion services. It also emphasises that a woman’s need for an abortion should not be restricted by religious arguments.

The HAI Press release can be found on our website here

If you wish to personally support the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment you can find details here.

Local Humanist Groups

Cork Humanists meet on the First Tuesday of the month in the Bar BOQ, Bridge Street, Cork at 7.30 pm.  Details are also on or you can contact Geraldine O’Neill on 086 812 8892.Humanists West serve Galway and surrounding areas, and meet in Galway City on the last Sunday of each month. Please note the change of venue: we are now meeting in the Anno Santo Hotel, Threadneedle Road, Salthill, Galway. The meetings start at 12 noon. For more information contact Garry O’Lochlainn on [email protected] or 087 2222726.Kilkenny plus members from Laois, Offaly, Carlow, and Kildare meet on the second Friday of the month at 8.00 p.m. in The Bróg Maker, Castlecomer Road, Kilkenny.    Contact Fachtna Roe on [email protected] for further details.  Please note change of location!

Mid-West Humanists includes people from Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary who meet on the third Wednesday of each month at 20:00 in Limerick – the Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick. Meeting notice at For more information contact Peter O’Hara on 086 8155102 or email [email protected].

North Coast Humanists meet every second Tuesday of the month at 6. 30 pm in the foyer of Lodge Hotel, Coleraine. New faces are welcome. For more information, contact: [email protected]com  or 07818036404.
North Dublin Humanist Community:
The next meeting of North Dublin Humanist Community will be in Hedigans Pub (also known as the Brian Boru) in Phibsborough on Monday 22nd August at 8pm. We will have a topic to chat about but it’s tbc because wer’re not that organised! You are most welcome to join us – please email [email protected] if you are planning to attend so that we have an idea of numbers.
North-West Humanists have changed their meeting place to Café Paradiso @Carrick Cineplex (behind Supermac’s), Sligo Road,Carrick on Shannon,Co. Roscommon.  The meeting time has been slightly extended, now 2.30pm to 5pm, still on the third Sunday of every month. The new venue is comfortable and quiet, with quality tea, coffee, snacks (including popcorn!) and a selection of wines. It is closer to the train station than the town-centre. For more information, directions and enquiries, please e-mail [email protected], text or phone 086 8820445.
South Dublin Humanist Community usually meets on the third Monday of every month in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire at 7.30 pm for an 8.00 pm start, but is taking a break for the summer!  We will resume meeting in September.  Further details from Brian Whiteside at  [email protected] or phone 086-384 8940.

Waterford Humanists meet on the third Wednesday of every month in the Reference Room, Waterford City Library, Lady lane at 6.00 p.m.  Contact Teresa Graham on [email protected] for further details.

West Cork Humanists:  Please email  [email protected] for details of the next meeting.

Westport Humanists meet in the Park Terrace Wine Bar of the Wyatt Hotel at the Octagon in Westport at 12 o’clock on the second Sunday of every month.  The group has a facebook page. Contact Séamus O’Connell on 087 245 35 36 or email [email protected] for further details.


HAI stand at GPO

The next outing of the HAI stand at the GPO will take place on Saturday, 20 August from 12 pm to 2 pm. All members who would like to lend their support would be most welcome!
IHEU Members’ Newsletter
Interesting articles from the IHEU, including Andrew Copson Where Does Humanism Stand in a Time of Crisis?
IHEU newsletter

Back issues

Back issues from January 2014 can be found on the website here here, but do not include Board reports or other material specific to members.  If you want a members’ back issue, please contact the administrator on [email protected]

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 know.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 27th of the month.We would very much welcome your contributions!

The email address is [email protected]

Living wills and planning ahead

Planning AheadThe Irish Hospice Foundation has a comprehensive website which guides members of the public in discussing and recording their preferences in the event of emergency, serious illness and death.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 or contact Daphne Wynne, 01 2802879, for further information.




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