Repeal of the Blasphemy Clause
Repeal of the Blasphemy clause was another significant step in Ireland becoming a modern, secular and more compassionate society. There are many more hurdles to overcome before the rights of people of no faith are fully realized in Ireland.
October 2018’s referendum results represented another significant milestone for Ireland in becoming a modern, secular and more compassionate society according to Noeleen Hartigan, the then CEO of the Humanist Association of Ireland.
However, there are still several significant hurdles to be overcome before people of no faith can fully participate in Irish society without discrimination.
Every week thousands of children from non-religious families continue to attend Roman Catholic schools because their parents, as taxpayers, have few options. While the lifting of the baptismal barrier was welcome, real reform in terms of delivering non-denominal education, as opposed to simply not excluding children based on faith, needs to follow.
Our elected parliamentarians say Christian prayers in the Dail and Seanad before they begin their working day on our behalf. Yet 10% of the adult population identify themselves as being of no faith.
Our President, who is elected by all people, not just those of faith, swears a constitutionally prescribed declaration to God during the inauguration (Article 12.8). His Council of State must make the same declaration, (Article 31.4) as do every single judge appointed in the country (Article 34.6).
Everyday our laws are defined, and our lawmakers are informed by a Constitution that pledges the country, above all else, not to its people, but to ‘Almighty God’.
Ireland has a unique, rich and increasingly diverse culture, some of this culture is informed by the dominant faiths of the past. But our past should not prescribe our future, and the laws and practices which give one faith system dominance over people’s lives must be dismantled.