Secular Sunday #54 – In With the New

Welcome to the first Secular Sunday of 2013. Eagle-eyed readers may notice that the format is essentially unchanged from previous editions, but the good news is that there are a number of changes in the pipeline. Beginning with the next issue (probably!) there will be a new improved layout, an automated email subscription feature, an integrated interactive calendar and maybe more. I am taking time to make sure that all these features work correctly and that they don’t compromise accessibility, so they may not all be introduced at once. In the meantime, it’s business as usual.

In this issue:

  • News
  • 2012 Highlights
  • Upcoming Events


  • The Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children will hold three days of hearings this week to discuss the Government’s decision to legislate and regulate for abortion law in the aftermath of the ABC judgement in the European Court of Human Rights. Atheist Ireland has asked to be invited to take part in the morning session on Thursday 10 January, when the committee is hearing from the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church of Ireland, Methodist Church of Ireland, and Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland. And the Oireachtas Health Committee has agreed! Read more
    We should have a report on this in next week’s issue.

2012 Highlights

2012 was a very busy year for Atheist Ireland. There’s a fairly comprehensive list of our activities and achievements in our annual report published in October, but here are some of the highlights:

  • In January, we launched a document entitled Five Steps to Civil Rights in a Secular Ireland. Atheist Ireland is lobbying to promote these proposals on an ongoing basis.
  • In March, we met with Hibernia College to discuss the course notes that made untrue statements about atheism and atheists. The meeting was productive. The relevant course notes have been removed, and Michael Nugent is preparing an initial one-hour introductory lesson for Hibernia College on atheism and non-religious ethics.
  • In May, Michael Nugent spoke about international blasphemy laws at the European Atheist Convention in Cologne, Germany. Several Atheist Ireland members attended the Convention, and we made many useful contacts for future co-operation.
  • In July, we started plans to organise a community outreach group to do good things for the community without religious influence. This initiative, Good Without Gods will hopefully grow over the coming year.
  • In October, Michael Nugent, Jane Donnelly and David Nash attended the OSCE Human Rights Meeting in Warsaw, Europe’s largest annual human rights and democracy conference. This was our second year taking part in this event, and as well as addressing the main session we also hosted a side event on blasphemy laws, religious oaths, secular education and protecting the human rights of atheists and agnostics. The video of Michael Nugent speaking at this event has been viewed over 6,700 times and has subtitles in English, Irish and French.
  • In November, Atheist Ireland hosted public events with Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast.
  • During the past year, Michael Nugent and/or Jane Donnelly have been on RTE’s Late Late Show, The Front Line, and Beyond Belief programmes, and on TV3’s morning Ireland. They have also spoken on numerous radio shows on RTE, BBC Northern Ireland, Newstalk and other stations.
  • During the past year, Harry Guinness has hosted monthly Dublin Atheists in the Pub events with a wide variety of speakers from Ireland and abroad. Videos of most of these events are available on our YouTube channel.

We have big plans for 2013 and we’ll be highlighting some of them in next week’s issue.

Upcoming Events

  • Monday 14 January, 8:30 pm, McSwiggans Bar and Restaurant, Woodquay, Galway (map)
    Galway Skeptics in the Pub – “5 Months of Fire and Brimstone”. Science and skepticism with a focus on climate change. Facebook event page
  • Wednesday 16 January, 8:00 pm, Absolute Hotel, Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick (map)
    The Mid West Humanists are meeting. As well as old and new attendees (new people always welcome) getting to talk about life as an atheist or humanist in a society with a religious-biased culture, they are continuing their plan to meet TDs in the region, on the Constitution, starting when the Blasphemy article arises in the Convention.
  • Thursday 17 January, 7:30 pm, Dublin
    Dublin Atheists in the Pub. Speaker and venue to be confirmed.
  • Saturday 19 January, 8:00 pm, Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork (map)
    Skeptics in the Castle. Jen Keane (aka Zenbuffy) will be talking about Stanislaw Burzinski and his questionable cancer treatments. Read more

That’s it for this week. Keep up with our activities on our websiteFacebook,  Twitter and YouTube.

Derek Walsh
Editor, Secular Sunday
Atheist Ireland

Secular Sunday