Labour 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 Labour 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?

Labour Party: The Party has not formally agreed a policy on this question, but Labour is in favour of a secular state that is neutral with respect to people’s religious beliefs.

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?

Labour Party: The Party has not formally agreed a policy on this question, but Labour is in favour of a secular state that is neutral with respect to people’s religious beliefs. Publicly-funded schools or hospitals should not discriminate 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?

Labour Party: Yes.

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?

Labour Party: Yes.

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?

Labour Party: Yes.

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?

Labour Party: Yes.

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?

Labour Party: The Party has not formally decided on a policy on this complex and sensitive issue.

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?

Labour Party: Yes.

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?

Labour Party: Yes.

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?

Labour Party: All political third parties seeking to influence referendums or elections are regulated by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPOC).

Atheist Ireland

1 Comment

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    Anthomy McIntyre February 23, 2020

    The Labour Party could have elaborated a bit in many of its responses. Too many monosyllabic answers. How a party that claims to be progressive no matter how contentious that claim might be, not to have considered the matter of assisted dying is disappointing.