Sinn Fein 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?
Yes. Sinn Féin believes that the separation of Church and State must be completed. Church control of primary schools is a legacy of the old era of ecclesiastical power and control. This must change and we must move to a democratically controlled education system, truly representative of the community, respecting the rights of people of all religions and none and totally child-centred.
2. Would you support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution?
Yes. Sinn Féin would establish an all-Ireland Constitutional Convention, directly elected by the people. The Forum would involve consultation at grassroots level and ensure participatory governance. Its remit would be to have an initial draft within 18 months of its establishment. It’s goal would be to produce a new constitution, fully reflective of the values and aspirations of the Irish people today, soundly based on democratic principles and international human rights standards, and which would form the basis for a future 32-County Republic
3. Do you believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence?
Sinn Féin does not believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence. During the debate on the Defamation Bill in 2009, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD put forward amendments to the Bill including the removal of the offence of blasphemy. There is no place in a democratic secular society which practices free speech for a criminal offence of blasphemy. That said however, Sinn Féin would urge all publications to pay special attention to the views and sensitivities of each and every religious and cultural group that makes up Irish society.
4. Would you support legislation to prevent hospitals from having a religious ethos?
Sinn Féin wishes to introduce a universal health care system with publicly funded hospitals governed by medical ethics and would support legislation to prevent them from operating based on a religious ethos. In the context of private hospitals, we do not have a specific position on this issue, but we will examine this issue further in light of your concerns.
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?
This is an issue that certainly merits further consideration and we are willing to listen to all interested parties in order to develop a position on this.