Hugh Sheehy:

1.      Will you work to reform the education system so that all children in your constituency can access publicly-funded schools which have no religious ethos?

It would be far better if all children in all constituencies had the choice to attend publicly funded non-denominational schools. However, given the financial situation, this may not be immediately possible since only religiously owned schools exist in many places, many parents do want to send their kids to religious schools and there is unlikely to be money to split classes or double up on schools any time soon.

We should, however, move as quickly as possible towards a situation where schools could have a religious ethos but no school in receipt of public funds could use religious status in admissions criteria.  This alternative is working in several countries. I find the current situation appalling and potentially in contravention of at least the spirit of 44.2.3 and 4.  I would also try to limit the amount of time dedicated to religious activities during normal school hours so that a school’s ethos would not intrude on normal educational activities.   Meaningful alternatives, alternatives that don’t create division between children, should be available during any periods of religious education.   Additionally, I would look to ensure that a school’s ethos may not be used against children attending or applying to attend a school, e.g. gay children in a religious school.

2.       Would you support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution?

Yes

3.      Do you believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence?

No

4.       Would you support legislation to prevent hospitals from having a religious ethos?

I haven’t thought about it in detail, but I don’t think so.  I realise that there are some treatments where this is an issue which would have to be managed.

5.   If elected, would you vote to ensure that religious bodies are treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment legislation?

For employment legislation yes.  For other equality legislation, it’s not something I’ve considered in detail, but I think the right of freedom of association may be stronger here.

6.     Do you believe that religions should have to pay their fair share of tax on income that does not come from charitable activities?

If religions are acting as charitable organisations then they should be treated as such.

7.      If you wish to provide a brief general statements of your views on the future development of secularisation in Ireland, or to highlight any previous comments you have made on related issues, please do so.

It is a fact that many people in Ireland, probably far more than officially recognized, are not religious and that the state thoroughly ignores this fact.  That’s bad and needs to be addressed. Many pretend to be religious to get their kids into schools, which is dreadful.  The non-religious in Ireland are not recognized adequately or at all.

However, in addressing these facts we’ll need to be sensitive to the other fact, which is that many  people in Ireland are religious.  Their views and their presence have to be respected too. Also, our starting point is a state which is heavily dependent on church owned facilities for provision of health and education services.  There are unlikely to be beautiful solutions, certainly not soon.

In general I think Ireland needs to move away from our current situation where the church is almost a part of the state in two areas as key as health and education.  We need to be more secular.  We can be.  State and religion can both be better off when properly separated.

James Coyle:

1.      Will you work to reform the education system so that all children in your constituency can access publicly-funded schools which have no religious ethos? YES

2.      Would you support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution? YES

3.      Do you believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence? NO

4.      Would you support legislation to prevent hospitals from having a religious ethos? YES

5.      If elected, would you vote to ensure that religious bodies are treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment legislation? YES

6.      Do you believe that religions should have to pay their fair share of tax on income that does not come from charitable activities? YES

7.      If you wish to provide a brief general statements of your views on the future development of secularisation in Ireland, or to highlight any previous comments you have made on related issues, please do so. NOT AT THIS TIME!

Dylan Haskins:

1.      Will you work to reform the education system so that all children in your constituency can access publicly-funded schools which have no religious ethos?

One of my education policies is to work with Educate Together to provide a blueprint for primary and secondary school education in the 21st Century. From my policy document: The current practice of educating the vast majority of the children in this country with one religious ethos presents several obstacles to equality and diversity. It also presents problems in terms of excluding the children of parents who are not Catholic and in most cases, does so without giving them an alternative to educate their children elsewhere.  Even senior leaders in the Catholic Church realise that this culture has to change. The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin said that the continuing control the Catholic church exerts over State schools is a “historical hangover that doesn’t reflect the realities of the time.” He also called the Catholic church’s responsibility for the functioning of over 90% of our primary schools “unrealistic” and suggested that a nationwide forum take place to discuss new inclusive approaches to public education. This forum needs to happen as a matter of urgency.
The Department of Education and Science should be leading the development of multi-denominational schools. There are 58 Educate Together Schools nationally, with 25 in the greater Dublin area. Its approach should be two-pronged; simultaneously encouraging the roll out of Educate Together schools and also identifying schools that were previously under the control of religious orders but are now only so in name.

2.      Would you support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution?

If we remove religious references from the Constitution, we need to replace them with a set of values that we possess as a society. First of all, I think we need to identify what these values are in a new Ireland. Our priority now is to stabilise other elements of our society and economy before we can address potentially outdated elements in the Constitution.

3.      Do you believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence? No.

4.      Would you support legislation to prevent hospitals from having a religious ethos?

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are important. But hospital patients should have a choice in attending a public hospital that isn’t necessarily run by a religious order.

5.      If elected, would you vote to ensure that religious bodies are treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment legislation?

One of my initiatives in my policy document on Putting Society First is to end discrimination in employment legislation. Section 37 (1) of the Employment Equality Act (1998, 2004) allows institutions, primarily schools, run by religious orders to discriminate against those who they perceive to “undermine the religious ethos” of that institution. The group of people this has the biggest impact on is gay and lesbian teachers. Many gay and lesbian teachers are forced to hide their private lives from their colleagues, principals and boards of management, and exist in a climate of fear that this legislation could be used against them. It is unacceptable that a section of equality legislation contains a clause for discrimination.
 I will lobby for this section of the legislation to be deleted. There is widespread support amongst teachers for this to happen. The Irish National Teacher’s Organisation consulted with the Department of Justice on the matter in 2007 reporting that “it is the INTO’s view that Section 37 (1) is unnecessary and inappropriate and we are aware that it is perceived as threatening by many of our members.” In an equal society we must never allow one group to assert power of discrimination over another. Schools are where our children become open to new ideas, form their identities, learn, and develop as individuals. The values of those schools should in turn reflect the values we want to instil in our children of which tolerance, diversity and equality are paramount.

6.      Do you believe that religions should have to pay their fair share of tax on income that does not come from charitable activities? Yes.

7.      If you wish to provide a brief general statements of your views on the future development of secularisation in Ireland, or to highlight any previous comments you have made on related issues, please do so.

The 1916 Proclamation of our republic sought to prioritise equal rights, equal opportunities and the pursuit of happiness as the cornerstones of our State. This sentiment was also explicit in the Democratic Programme of the first Dáil in 1919. In 1937, the constitution was written under Éamon DeValera with significant input from the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid. The draft constitution was even informally referred to the Vatican prior to debate in Dáil Éireann, something that jars with the increasing religious diversity and indeed secularism in our country. There are important values intrinsic to the social spirit of the constitution; prudence, justice, charity, dignity and freedom of the individual were all presented as attributes that should inform the very basis of the document. It’s time to reflect on these values, reinforce those that are appropriate to us nearly three quarters of a century after our constitution came into force, and at the same time, identify new values that can guide us for centuries to come. While previous generations have been led by both the Church and the State, this is no longer the case for the most part my generation. A lack of leadership can be a daunting prospect but it also forces us to define our own guiding principles and make our own decisions. In time this will result in a generation of strong leaders who have learned by doing.

Ruairi Quinn:

1) If elected to government, the Labour Party will establish a National Forum on Patronage in Primary Schools to ensure our education system provides a wider range of choice in the ethos across Ireland. We support greater provision of multi-denominational education for those in our community who are of other religions, belief systems or are atheists or humanists.
2) The Labour Party proposes a Constitutional Convention to draft a new constitution. I cannot anticipate what form a new Constitution will take, but I would strongly support the removal of any religious references in it.
3) The Labour Party does not believe blasphemy should be a criminal offence.
4) I have not considered whether hospitals should have their religious status removed.
5) The Labour Party supports a freedom of conscience clause in all sectors of the education system. We do not believe schools should discriminate against teachers and students becuase of their sexuality or religion.
6) I have not considered whether religious organisations should pay income tax on non-charitable income.

In addition, see the Labour Party response on behalf of all its candidates

Ruadhán Mac Aodháin:

1. Will you work to reform the education system so that all children in your constituency can access publicly-funded schools which have no religious ethos?
Yes, I believe that the state has a duty to provide publicly-funded schools with no religious ethos in every constituency. I went to a non-denominational school when I was a child. For secondary school, my parents wished to send me to a Gaelscoil but it was not possible to go to a non-denominational Irish language school. I’m of the view that in any republic, schools that receive public funding should have no religious ethos.

2. Would you support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution?
Yes, as a left-wing republican I think that there should be a complete separation from the church and state.

3. Do you believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence?
No – I do not. I believe in free speech and I think that the blasphemy law is an affront to our democratic principles.

4. Would you support legislation to prevent hospitals from having a religious ethos?
In 1948 the British Labour party created the NHS through the nationalisation of our health services. The 1948 Act nationalised all voluntary hospitals and enabled the British Government to create the most successful public service of the 20th century. I would advocate that we take a similar position with our own health services, Through taking public control of our public services, I believe that we can provide access to health care on the basis of need alone. I would therefore support legislation to nationalise all voluntary hospitals.

5. If elected, would you vote to ensure that religious bodies are treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment legislation?
Yes. I do not think they should be treated differently to anyone else.

6. Do you believe that religions should have to pay their fair share of tax on income that does not come from charitable activities?
Of course I do.

In addition, see statement provided by Sinn Fein on behalf of all its candidates.

Kevin Humphries:

See the statement provided by the Labour Party on behalf of all its candidates.

Lucinda Creighton:

1)      I believe in parental choice when it comes to sending children to schools. I am supportive of schools being run by religious organisations but equally I believe that more support should be provided to multi denominational schools such as Educate Together, allowing for the development of more schools and even greater choice.

2)      I would not support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution

3)      I do not believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence

4)      I believe that patients should have a choice with regard to the hospitals they attend therefore I would not support legislation to prevent hospitals from having a religious ethos.

5)      I believe that currently religious bodies are treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment legislation. However, I am aware that there are a certain number of exemptions for religious bodies which I believe are reasonable.

6)      I think it is fair that religious organisation should pay taxes on income that is not used to fund their charitable activities.

In addition, see the statement provided by Fine Gael on behalf of all their candidates.

Eoghan Murphy:

See the statement provided by Fine Gael on behalf of all its candidates.

John Gormley

See the statement provided by the Green Party on behalf of all its candidates.

No Response Received From:

Chris Andrews

Annette Mooney

Paul Sommerville

Mannix Flynn

Peadar Ó Ceallaigh

Hugh Sheehy

Candidates Not Contacted:

John Dominic Keigher

Noel Watson

Fine Gael statement

Green Party statement

Labour Party Statement

Sinn Fein Statement

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