Secular Sunday #19 – A Little Bit of Politics

It’s time for Secular Sunday!

In this issue:

  • News
  • Upcoming Events
  • Oireachtas Report


  • Last week the Ombudsman for Children issued a report on the actions of “School A”, which has since been identified as St. Joseph’s College, Borrisoleigh, County Tipperary. The school had refused access to a student, initially on the grounds that she was pregnant, and later that she was a single mother. The rationale for refusing to enrol this young person was the school ethos. The patron of the school (also its owner and principal) stated that it was his “duty to protect the honourable majority of [his] pupils”. He also stated that it was “not a school for single mothers”.
    On Thursday 3 May, Atheist Ireland attended a Consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs on the State Report to the UN under the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights. We raised the issue of the Ombudsman for Children’s report on St. Joseph’s College and we highlighted the failure of the State to protect the human rights of this family under the Covenant. We made reference to Article 26 of the Covenant: the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law without discrimination of any kind. We’ll have more on this in next week’s Secular Sunday.
  • On Tuesday, Atheist Ireland attended a seminar organised by ENAR Ireland. The aims of the seminar were to improve understanding of issues related to freedom of religion and belief and religious diversity in contemporary Ireland, to identify what is needed to improve the situation, and to network with members of like-minded groups. Read our report here.

Upcoming Events

  • Thursday 10 May, 7:30 pm, The Bankers, Dublin 2 (map)
    Atheists in the Pub. Geoff, of Geoff’s Shorts, will be talking about his encounters with street preachers and what we can learn from them. Facebook event page
  • Tuesday 15 May, The Market Place Theatre, Armagh (map)
    Michael Nugent will be taking part in a panel discussion following a talk by Sir John Houghton on God, Science and Global Warming.  More details and ticket information
  • 25-27 May, Cologne, Germany
    There are less than three weeks to go until the European Atheist Convention, hosted by IBKA and Atheist Alliance International and the schedule is now available.
  • Tuesday 5 June, National Concert Hall, Dublin 2 (map)
    Dublin Writers Festival presents: Richard Dawkins in Conversation. Tickets are sold out but it may be worth checking for cancellations. If anyone has a spare ticket let us know and we should be able to find a buyer. Learn more
  • Wednesday 6 June, 8:00 pm, Liberty Hall, Dublin 1 (map)
    If you couldn’t get tickets for Richard Dawkins or find him too “militant” Alain de Botton will be providing a different perspective and discussing his latest book Religion for Atheists. Read more

Oireachtas Report

  • A private member’s bill proposed by Senator Ivana Bacik has paved the way for civil wedding ceremonies to be performed by Humanist celebrants. As the law stands only civil registrants and members of religious bodies can perform a legally binding wedding ceremony. This means that non-religious people who want more than the standard fare offered by the HSE, or just want to get married on the weekend have to have a separate legal ceremony.
  • Senator Averil Power has proposed an amendment to employment equality legislation removing an exception that allows some institutions under the control of religious bodies to discriminate against employees – or potential employees – based on gender, civil status, family status and sexual orientation.
  • Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy has asked the Central Statistics Office for information on the number of people who claimed their religion was that of ‘Jedi knight’ in last year’s Census. We’ve been looking for the same information and we’ll let you know if and when we get it.

Until next week, may the force be with you.

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday