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.

Blasphemy law

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.



Atheist Ireland


  1. Avatar
    John McM March 15, 2012

    Would removing the blasphemy law not serve to undermine the very first 2 paragraphs of our constitution? I’d really think they should be removed too. We should have no “obligation to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ”.

    “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom
    is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all
    actions both of men and States must be referred,

    We, the people of Éire,
    Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our
    Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our
    fathers through centuries of trial, … … …

    Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this

  2. Avatar
    Joe Harte March 16, 2012

    Weirdly it’s not blasphemous to call on a particular god (or three) to bless your work. I’m still shocked that Dev didn’t get Mary in there somewhere. I love the auld Bunreacht, but that preamble does not come from a Republican mindset, and I’m hoping the convention will address it.

    But it surely negates equality legislation by demanding an acknowledgement of obligation to the “Divine Lord, Jesus” from the people of “Eire”. Not for us, of course – we have no rights under equality legislation. But for believers in a different Divine Lord than Jesus.