Fine Gael has provided the following statement on behalf of all its candidates –

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? –

Fine Gael supports diversity in our school system and do not feel that the current patronage model reflects modern Ireland. Parental choice must be at the heart of how the patronage model develops and we will hold a national forum on education to debate the issues involved with all stakeholders so that parents and organisations with a view on how the system should evolve, have an opportunity to discuss the issues in an open forum. From there, we will plan a way forward, which will respect the views of all involved.

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

Fine Gael’s immediate priority is reform of the political institutions in the Constitution in order to make the political system more effective and accountable. Nevertheless, if elected to Government, Fine Gael will consider the continued relevance of religious references in the Constitution as part of our programme of Constitutional review.

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

No. Fine Gael does not believe the blasphemy should be a criminal offence and made this point repeatedly during the debate on the Defamation Act 2009.

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

Fine Gael has no plans to publish legislation to prevent hospitals from having a particular religious ethos. Our immediate priority, as outlined in our FairCare health plan, is to reform the delivery of health services and to create a strong public health service. This involves implementing a new approach to waiting list management, developing primary care services and introducing Universal Health Insurance (UHI) for all. Once UHI is introduced the unfair and inefficient two-tier health system will be eliminated allowing fast access to improved services for all.

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?

Fine Gael has no plans to tax the income of charitable organisations.

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