Secular Sunday #484 – NCCA to consider new Court judgment

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NCCA to consider new Court judgment


The NCCA is currently reviewing the draft Primary Curriculum framework, and Atheist Ireland made a submission to its consultation process last November. We have now sent them further information about a recent Court of Appeal judgment that protects parents rights.

The case, Burke v Minister for Education, was in relation to home schooling and the Leaving Certificate scheme in 2020. However the Court of Appeal set out the Constitutional rights of parents and their children in the education system. It is clear to us from this case that our Constitutional rights have been ignored by the NCCA for years.

Among other relevant points, the Court of Appeal stated that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Campaign to Separate Church and State v Minister for Education is binding authority. That case said that the Constitution contemplates children receiving religious or moral education but in accordance with the wishes of parents.

This principle means that students have the right to not attend any religious or moral teaching that is not in accordance with the conscience of their parents. And it is parents, not the Department of Education or schools, who can decide what is suitable or not suitable for students in relation to religious and moral education.

We will continue to campaign for a secular education system, and in the short term for the right to not attend religious instruction and to be given an alternative timetabled subject. Please join Atheist Ireland as a member and help us to continue this important voluntary work.

– Secular Sunday Editorial Team

Éire Aindiach

Éire Aindiach


Chun ár gcuid feachtais a leathnú agus a neartú, tá sé beartaithe ag Éire Aindiach níos mó úsáid a bhaint as an Ghaeilge.
Ba mhaith linn meitheal a eagrú, chun cuidiú le:
  • Polasaithe agus feachtais Éire Aindiach a phlé ar an raidió nó ar an teilifís
  • Cuidiú le doiciméid ghaeilge a scríobh
  • Bualadh le polaiteoirí chun stocaireacht a dhéanamh
Táimid i mbun aistriúcháin a dhéanamh ar dhoiciméid polasaí faoi láthair, agus teastaíonn cabhair uainn le aistriúchán agus profáil.  Más maith leat bheith páirteach san iarracht seo, cur ríomhphost chugainn ag
English translation:

To broaden and strengthen our campaigns, Atheist Ireland have undertaken to make more use of the Irish language.
We are looking to assemble a group of volunteers, to help with:

  • Discussing our policies and campaigns on radio or tv
  • Helping to write documents in Irish
  • Meeting with politicians to lobby them
We are in the process of translating policy documents at the moment, and we need some help with translating and proofreading.  If you would like to assist with this effort, please email us at

Atheist Ireland News


NCCA to consider new Court of Appeal judgment when reviewing Primary Curriculum


Last November Atheist Ireland made a submission to the NCCA’s consultation on the Primary Curriculum. The consultation date is now over. But the NCCA has agreed to consider a new Appeal Court judgment as part of its review, after Atheist Ireland sent them the following letter:
Atheist Ireland letter
We are contacting you with regard to the Consultation on the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework. We appreciate that the current phase with regard to submissions is complete.
A recent case at the Court of Appeal has implications for the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework. We believe that you should take this into consideration, as the 1999 Framework Curriculum undermined the rights of non religious minorities in the education system.
The case at the Court of Appeal was in relation to home schooling and the Leaving Certificate scheme in 2020. However the Court of Appeal set out the Constitutional rights of parents and their children in the education system. It is clear to us from this case that our Constitutional rights have been ignored by the NCCA for years.
The Court of Appeal in the Burke v Minister for Education case stated that:

“The respondents possessed constitutional rights to have reasonable account taken of their situation when education policies were being implemented by the State.” (page 124)
190 “We consider that the structure of the Constitution, including the fact that Article 41 relating to the family is immediately followed by Article 42 relating to education, together with the express wording of those Articles, place the family at the heart of the provision of education. Parental duty to provide for education is paramount and parental choice in how that is provided is guaranteed. Furthermore, the right to education and the right of a child to realise his or her full potential, has been recognised as part of the natural rights guaranteed by Article 40.3. The State, pursuant to Article 41.1.2, also guarantees to protect the family in its constitution and authority.”
191 “This Court considers that the case law demonstrates that the relationship between parents, the State and the child as envisaged by Article 40, 41, and 42, is a trifecta not just of the participants but of the rules under which constitutional engagement on education must take place; namely right, duties and powers. It is only through understanding the interwoven nature of those relationships, that clarity can be brought to the complex constitutional provisions on education…”

The philosophy behind the 1999 Framework Curriculum is that curriculum areas are integrated into each other, and that includes religion. It is clear from the 1999 Framework curriculum that the NCCA took no account of the Constitutional rights of non religious parents and their children, and the impact that the religious integrated curriculum will have on their rights.
One key point from the Burke case that it is not up to the NCCA or the Department of Education to decide what type of religious or moral education is or is not suitable for parents and their children. It is for parents to decide this given the structure, wording and values in the education provisions of the Constitution which indicate a particular philosophy. The NCCA continues to decide what it believes is suitable or not suitable for students in relation to religious and moral education. You simply have no right to do this.
The Court of Appeal also stated that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Campaign to Separate Church and State v Minister for education is binding authority (para 171). The Supreme Court in the Campaign case (1998) said that Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution must be read in conjunction with Article 42 which contemplates children receiving religious or moral education but in accordance with the wishes of parents. This means that students have the right to not attend any religious or moral teaching that is not in accordance with the conscience of their parents.
Also, as the Burke Case judgment makes clear, they should not be disadvantaged by their parents’ choice where it is reasonably possible to avoid that outcome.
We ask that in considering the new Framework curriculum that you take into account the Constitutional rights of non religious parents under Article 40, Article 41, Article 42, and Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution.
NCCA reply
On behalf of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), I would like to thank Atheist Ireland for its interest in and contribution to the consultation on the Draft Primary Curriculum Framework.
This important consultation will inform the purpose, structure and content of the future primary school curriculum. We therefore appreciate the time of individuals and organisations in sharing their feedback with us.
The correspondence that you attached in your email on March 30 for Arlene Forster’s attention concerning a recent Appeal Court decision on the Constitutional rights of parents and children will be included as part of the submissions to the consultation. Read online…


*|YOUTUBE: [$vid=Lq3lyWI0TdY]|*

Calling concerned teachers

If you are a teacher and concerned about unwanted religious influence contact Chris at


List of Atheist Ireland Submissions



Buy this book “Is My Family Odd About Gods?”

**Schools Special Offer**

As Covid continues and schools start back online, Atheist Ireland are offering the book ‘Is my family odd about godsfree (excluding postage and packaging).  This means that you can get this book for the total price of 10 euro. This offer is aimed at families with school going children, who would like to read this book during their online school term. This offer is limited to one book per family unit and for postage within Ireland only. Read more…

Have you noticed that your school and your teachers may tell you one thing about religion, while some of your friends and family may have different ideas about god?
If you think that this is a little odd, then this book is for you. Buy this book here.


Lessons about Atheism

Atheist Ireland has published a set of free lesson plans about atheism for children aged 8 and up. We welcome feedback, which we will use to develop the lessons. You can download the lesson plans here



Be Good without Gods


Atheist Ireland ‘Good Without Gods’ Kiva team members have made loans of  $31,325 to 1086 entrepreneurs in the developing world. You can join the team here. Before you chose a loan, make sure you do not support religious groups. You can check the loan partner’s social and secular rating here.

Atheist Ireland’s ‘‘ is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 1826 symbolic defections. Many share their reasons for making a public symbolic defection which you can read here

Petition on Schools Equality PACT 

Atheist Ireland currently runs one petition – The Schools Equality PACT. This seeks to reform religious discrimination in state-funded schools. Currently this stands at 4,052 Help us reach it’s target of 5000. Please sign and share this petition if you haven’t already done so. Thank you.

Tell us what you think

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Please consider joining or re-joining Atheist Ireland

Atheist Ireland is an entirely volunteer run organisation. We receive no grants or government funding to continue our campaign work. We rely entirely on membership fess and donations.

Annual membership is nominal; €25 waged, €10 unwaged/student and €40 for family membership. Please consider becoming a member. Membership means:

  • You can help to build an ethical and secular Ireland.
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You can join Atheist Ireland here.

Thank you for your continued support


Atheist Ireland Committee



Opinion and Media

Material on atheism, secularism, human rights,politics,science etc. collected from media and the blogosphere from Ireland and beyond; used without permission, compensation, liability, guarantee or implied endorsement. We aim to include a variety of diverse opinions and viewpoints.


Blogs & Opinions




AAI Responds To Our Allegations


By John Hamill of The Freethought Prophet


Recently, we at The Free Thought Prophet have made a series of allegations about Atheist Alliance International, each of which we have backed up with documentary evidence. We have now received a written response to these allegations from AAI, and their position is genuinely preposterous. We will publish their latest absurdity below, even though it is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who can read it. In addition, we will also publish a new video in which AAI admits in private to their “responsibility for the wrongdoing that was done”. They made this admission just a couple of weeks before their President and Vice President came on our podcast to forcefully deny any wrongdoing. Read more…

More Demonstrably False AAI Statement


By John Hamill of The Freethought Prophet


The more statements that Atheist Alliance International makes on the small cabal of individuals within their Board who destroyed the democratic legitimacy of international atheism, the more demonstrably false information that they publish. Their most recent blog post is no exception. In order to correct the record, we will include a list of their latest false statements below. Perhaps if this persistent and ongoing failure to be truthful continues long enough, some of the members, directors or advisory council of AAI will ask the officers of the organisation why they can’t just tell the truth?. Read more…


I thought I was over my Catholic guilt about being gay. Maybe I was wrong?


By Antoun Issa


Guilt and shame can be addictive. In certain religious and traditional contexts, it can even be venerated, honoured – the requisite emotion that subdues human ego and maintains humility at the feet of a far higher power. But it can also leave an indelible stain on our character, our personality, and our mental health that endures for years, particularly for those brought up in such conservative environments where guilt and shame were measurements of our own self-worth. Read more…

Religion is a driving force behind the gender wage gap, study finds


By Eric W. Dolan


New research published in the Academy of Management Journal indicates that religion perpetuates the gender wage gap. The findings provide evidence that men tend to earn significantly more than women in societies with heightened religiosity. Read more…

America is Better Off in the Long Run With the Drop in Church Attendance


By Hemant Mehta


This past week, a Gallup poll found that only 47% of Americans now say they belong to a house of worship, marking the first time ever that the number has dipped below 50%. It’s a watershed moment for American religiosity. I wrote about a number of possible explanations for this decline, and I think it’s important to recognize the drop in churchgoing does not mean there’s been a corresponding rise in atheists. A lot of these people may be leaving organized religion while still clinging to a belief in God (or some nebulous Higher Power). Read online…

Latest British Social Attitudes survey shows huge generational surge in the non-religious


By Humanists UK


The latest British Social Attitudes Survey has shown that the share of the population belonging to no religion has continued to grow, now standing at 53%, with 12% Anglicans, 7% Catholics, 18% other Christians, and 9% all other religions. More than that, it also shows that the share of non-religious people will continue to rise over the coming decades, with some 68% of 18-24 year olds saying they belong to no religion, versus just 18% saying they are Christians – including 0.7% saying they are Anglicans. Read more…

Western liberals’ weakness on blasphemy is letting down Muslim dissenters


By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid


The hand-wringing in the face of a vicious campaign against a teacher sends a demoralising message to those fighting for free speech on religion globally and in British Muslim communities, says Kunwar Khuldune Shahid. The Batley Grammar School teacher who has been suspended, and gone into hiding, after showing a caricature of Islam’s prophet Muhammad in class last week, now understandably worries that he might be killedRead more…

Raising a Child Atheist Isn’t a Middle Finger to God


By Quentin Janes


I love Canada. I just love it here. I’m not sure that there is a single thing I would change about the people that live here and the way we proceed. Naturally, there will always be problems, but as I see it that is not strange; nothing is perfect, but it can be better. Read more…

If you are a blogger or vlogger writing or talking about atheism, secularism, ethics, skepticism, human rights etc. and would like us to include your work here please email the link to

Podcasts, Videos and Interviews


Do you host an Irish-based podcast on atheism, secularism, science, skepticism, human rights etc.? Let us know and we will link to it here.


Freethought Radio – If I Only Had a Brain – Jeff Hawkins

Friendly Atheist Podcast – The Outrage Over Lil Nas X and “Satan Shoes”
Humanists UK Podcast –  What I believe – Carol Smillie
National Secular Society Podcast – Forced marriage and the importance of RSE

Media Watch

News and views from Ireland and around the world. Sharing is not an endorsement. 




Please consider joining Atheist Ireland and support our continued work








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