Green Party responses to General Election questions from Atheist Ireland
Atheist Ireland has asked political parties and candidates running in the General Election on 8th February to answer ten questions regarding secular issues. Here are the responses from the Green Party.
1. One Oath For All
Will you support amending the Constitution to enable the President, Judges, and members of the Council of State (which includes Taoiseach and Tanaiste) to swear an oath of loyalty to the state and the Constitution, that has no references to either religious or nonreligious beliefs?
Green Party: The Green Party in general supports the rights of people of all faiths and none to receive full equal treatment in all aspects of their lives.
2. Secular Education
Will you support amending relevant laws to ensure that publicly-funded schools cannot discriminate on the ground of religion against students in access, and against teachers in employment, and by privileging one religion when appointing publicly-funded chaplains?
Green Party: The Green Party believes that schools receiving any state funding should be fair, transparent and inclusive in their policies and practices for entrance of students. We would end the practice where schools can discriminate against pupils in the admissions process on the basis of religion, or of special educational needs. We also would eliminate Section 37 (1) of the Education and Employment Equality Act 1998; eliminating this would end the exemption allowing schools to discriminate against teachers or other employees on the basis of religion.
3. Alternative Classes to Religion
Parents and students have the right, under the Constitution and Education Act, to attend any publicly-funded school without attending religious teaching. Will you support their right to do this without discrimination, and that they be given an alternative timetabled subject?
Green Party: The Green party support keeping religious activities of schools to after (or before) the core school day. This may include simultaneous alternative extra-curricular classes, potentially including those from different religious groups, taking place alongside each other within the same school buildings.
4. Data Protection in Schools
Will you support the right of parents and students, under the data protection law, to not have to reveal their religious or philosophical convictions, directly or indirectly, when exercising their right to not attend religious teaching or worship in publicly-funded schools?
Green Party: The Green Party views data protection as a fundamental right. Disclosure is a matter of individual consent, and we do not support compulsory revealing of data, including religious or philosophical beliefs. Furthermore, if this consent to this data is granted, we believe that management thereof would be at the behest of the individual, including the right to withdraw consent and have the data deleted at any time.
5. Objective Sex Education
Will you support amending the Education Act to ensure that students, in all publicly-funded schools, can exercise their right under the European Social Charter to objective sex education that is delivered objectively and not through a religious ethos?
Green Party: The Green Party proposes to ensure that external RSE programmes are provided to educate students most in need. Additionally, we would ensure all teachers who undertake the teaching of SPHE are formally trained in an ongoing course reflective of the complex nature of the subject. We would ensure that teachers are fully prepared to provide the course in its entirety, including any and all sensitive topics included in the curriculum.
6. Secular Healthcare
Will you support a publicly-funded healthcare system where decisions are based on human rights and the medical needs of patients, and not on religious ethics, in particular with regard to operation of the new National Maternity Hospital?
Green Party: The Green Party believes strongly in the principle of patient-centric healthcare, that is to say, universal healthcare, built around patient empowerment and preventative methods. This would be supported by information technology, accessed on the basis of medical need, and carried out in an economic, equitable and ecological manner.
7. Assisted Dying
Will you support the right of seriously ill people to get the best medical resources if they want to stay alive for as long as they can, and the right of terminally or seriously ill people to have the right to die peacefully when they choose if they want to?
Green Party: On palliative care and end of life: The Green Party believes that palliative care should be further expanded. All services – hospital, hospice, community hospitals, health clinics and care homes – should promote the knowledge and understanding of the process of dying and universal palliative care training should be required for all clinical, care and ancillary staff, appropriate to each staff member’s role. On assisted dying: The Green Party proposes that there should be a statutory right to an assisted death which would be distinguished in law from suicide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. We believe that assisted dying provisions should apply only to those with a terminal illness which is likely to result in death within six months. As this is a complex and sensitive issue requiring many provisions and safeguards, we would advocate reading the full policy, which can be found here.
8. Solemnising of Marriages
Will you support amending the Civil Registration Act, so that bodies that can nominate solemnisers for marriages are treated equally under the law, instead of having different legal conditions for religious and secular bodies, and for different secular bodies?
Green Party: The Green Party in general supports the rights of all people to full equality in matters of marriage, regardless of faith, gender, orientation or any other personal aspect.
9. Prejudice-Motivated Crime
Will you support legislation that tackles prejudice against groups through education, and tackles prejudice-motivated crime through the law, while protecting the right to freedom of expression, including about religion, based on human rights principles and standards?
Green Party: The Green Party supports the rights of all people to live lives free of prejudice or discrimination, and believes that both education and the law are vital tools in ensuring these rights are not infringed upon.
10. Political Funding and Spending
Will you support stronger regulation of political funding and spending, so that religious bodies have to comply on the same basis as secular bodies, and protect the democratic process from online disinformation and the undue influence of wealthy donors?
Green Party: The Green Party believes that all organisations spending over a certain threshold in relation to a specific campaign or general political activities should be regarded the same, i.e. a “third party” under SIPO rules. The party is also committed to ensuring that democracy is conducted in a free and fair manner with a level and transparent playing field, protected from undue or malign influences.