What We Do


Advocacy - a crowd of people campaigning for change

Stand Up for Freedom

The Humanist Association of Ireland passionately believes that a modern Ireland must be a secular or religiously neutral state. We actively work to achieve this goal. Have a look at some of our recent Advocacy work:

Ownership of National Maternity Hospital

We wrote to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, in May 2021, outlining our concern about the ownership structure for the new National Maternity Hospital. It appears that the Government is considering gifting the new National Maternity Hospital, to be built with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money, to a private company established by the religious Sisters of Charity.

Judges Swearing a Religious Oath

We made a submission to the Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, on the General Scheme of the Judicial Appointments Commission. In advocating for the rights of the non-religious, we outlined our belief that the current requirement for Judges being constitutionally obliged to swear a religious oath is a barrier for non-religious citizens.

New RSE Programme for Catholic Schools

We issued a statement in April deploring the new syllabus on Relationships and Sexuality Education that was launched for Catholic schools.

HAI Publish Guide to School Admissions

The HAI published a Q&A guide for parents/guardians raising children of no faith outlining their rights when admitting their child to their local school. For many years in Ireland, parents have faced the so-called ‘baptism barrier’ when seeking a school place for their children. The introduction of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 aims to address various issues of inequality around the admissions process to schools, including religious background. In essence, the Act removes the ‘baptism barrier’ faced by so many parents to date.

The Act requires all schools to have an Admissions Policy in place and these policies will apply for admissions for the 2021/2022 school year onwards. While the removal of the ‘baptism barrier’ is a welcome move to secure the rights of children of all faiths and none to a fair education, the HAI supports the view that teaching in state-funded schools should encourage critical thinking, be objective and pluralistic. Education should encourage learning in all forms but mostly it should be inclusive and should develop a respect for learning, for each other and for difference.

Mother and Baby Homes Report

We issued a statement on the Mother and Baby Homes report, condemning the appalling abuse suffered by women and children at the hands of religious institutions.

Universal Periodic Review of Ireland

We made a submission to the Human Rights Council, Third Universal Periodic Review of Ireland, (2021), where we set out our recommendations for the improvements of the human rights of the non-religious in Ireland.

In recent years

..... we have supported so many campaigns and act as advocates wherever we are needed, including:

State institutions should not biased towards any particular belief group. Our advocacy for causes like this is built upon three core beliefs when it comes to our relationship with the state:

  • Differences of belief or philosophy should be fully and equitably respected in policy and accommodated in practice by public authorities
  • The constitution, laws and practices of the state reflect a secular approach and are non-biased
  • As we enter the third decade of this century we embrace the fact that Ireland is becoming a much more ethnically, culturally and philosophically diverse society. That’s why the state, which serves us all, must respect diversity without any religious bias in our constitution, laws and practices.

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