Secular analysis of the Fianna Fáil manifesto
Written by Dr Conor McGrath
The main Fianna Fáil manifesto – titled ‘Real Plan, Better Future’ – is available at http://fail.3cdn.net/9bab6b928c527f3728_60am6gzlc.pdf.
It is relatively short, and concentrates on only two areas – economic recovery, and political reform. From a secular perspective, the manifesto says virtually nothing of interest on key issues, including primary/secondary education and human rights/civil liberties.
The political reform section starts more promisingly, stating (on p. 28) that, “Irish society today is so different from 1937 that it would be surprising if an electoral and government system established then was still appropriate.” This raises the possibility of important reform as, by implication, it would equally be surprising if the Constitution was still appropriate for a modern and liberal Ireland. And, indeed, Fianna Fáil goes on to pledge a Citizen’s Assembly to discuss political reform.
However, the manifesto asserts very explicitly that, “We do not support the proposal for a constitutional convention to tackle redrawing the entire constitution…. Grandiose proposals to scrap or redraw the entire Constitution offer no positive outcomes except delaying action on the more important task of renewing our political and governing system (pp. 32 and 33). Fianna Fáil, therefore, offers no prospect of an updated Constitution framed in secular rather than religious language.
Four particular issues which require constitutional amendment – and which Fianna Fáil support – are mentioned: rights of children; parents in the home; creation of a court of appeal; and restrictions on parliamentary inquiries. Significantly, not mentioned is the referendum which Dermot Ahern agreed to hold on removing the reference to blasphemy from the Constitution.
Overall then, the Fianna Fáil manifesto contains no commitments at all to advance the secular agenda which Atheist Ireland is working to achieve.
We will be publishing an analysis of each party’s manifesto as they become available.