Social Democrats 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 Social Democrats.

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?

Social Democrats: Yes.

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?

Social Democrats: Yes. We want to establish a Citizens’ Assembly to make recommendations to the Oireachtas on how to move towards an entirely secular education system.

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?

Social Democrats: Yes. We want to remove ‘faith formation’ from the school day and provide it as an after school option.

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?

Social Democrats: 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?

Social Democrats: 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?

Social Democrats: 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?

Social Democrats: We are currently developing a policy on assisted dying and it is not included in our manifesto.

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?

Social Democrats: 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?

Social Democrats: 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?

Social Democrats: Yes.

Atheist Ireland

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