Atheist Ireland criticizes Ireland’s response to UN Human Rights Committee
Atheist Ireland has criticized the Irish Government’s responses today to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, saying that the Government is failing to protect the human right of freedom of conscience for Irish atheists, on the issues of religious discrimination in schools and retaining the blasphemy law.
The Irish Government was wrong to reject the request to eliminate religious discrimination in access to schools, it was wrong to claim that there is a growing nondenominational school sector in Ireland, and it was wrong to use the idea of the constitutional convention to delay addressing the need to remove the blasphemy law.
Religious discrimination in schools
Ireland rejected the request to eliminate religious discrimination in schools on the basis that there is a growing nondenominational school sector in Ireland. Actually, there are no nondenominational schools registered with the Department of Education. Educate Together schools are multi-denominational, not non-denominational.
Ireland is now trying to redefine schools as non-denominational if there is no denominational involvement in their governance. But unless a school is actually nondenominational in practice, it does not matter who is governing it.
Ireland also rejected the request to eliminate religious discrimination in schools on the basis that religious groups are fee to establish their own schools in Ireland. This is of course true, but the state should provide a foundation of secular schools, that are equally open to all children, and let religious groups establish their own schools as well as that, not instead of it.
Ireland only partly accepted the request to repeal the Irish blasphemy law. This law has drawn international criticism from liberal democracies and praise from Islamic States.
Irelands response to the UN on this issue is that the Government is setting up a Constitutional Convention and is asking this Convention to look at this issue.
But both Government parties are already committed to removing this law, and there is no need to have a hundred people discuss it for a year before the Government addresses it.
The Constitutional Convention should not be used as a delaying tactic to avoid addressing important issues on which there is widespread consensus.