Secular Sunday #496 – Hospitals, Schools, and Assisted Dying

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Hospitals, Schools, and Assisted Dying


It is scandalous that the Government is even contemplating ceding control over the new national maternity hospital to a private body, given how many problems have already been caused by ceding control over schools to private patrons.

It is even worse when that private body is a charity associated with the Catholic church, which has an appalling record of human rights abuses and an ethos that opposes reproductive rights for women. The State should own and directly run essential public services.

Meanwhile the campaign continues for the right to assisted dying. It is eight years since the Supreme Court found in the Marie Fleming case that the Oireachtas can legislate for this without a referendum, yet no law has been passed since then.

This week, government legal advice was published that suggests that the Dying with Dignity Bill proposed by Solidarity/People Before Profit could face a Constitutional challenge. If so, then it should be amended and passed, not obstructed and delayed.

Recent referendums on marriage equality, abortion, and blasphemy, have shown a consistent majority in favour of secular government. Our politicians should heed this message, the State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital, end religious control of our schools, and legislate for assisted dying.

Please join Atheist Ireland as a member and help us to campaign for an ethical secular State. We are a voluntary advocacy group, and we depend on our membership to maintain our activities. Ireland is becoming more secular. Help us to translate that into the necessary changes to our laws.

– 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


The State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital


In a democratic republic, the State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital. It should not cede control over this essential public service to any private body, never mind to a charity associated with the Catholic church, which has an appalling record of human rights abuses and an ethos that opposes reproductive rights for women.
Atheist Ireland campaigns for a secular healthcare system based on compassion, human rights and the medical needs of patients. No religious values should be imposed on patients who do not share those religious beliefs. The State should remove, not reinforce, the traditional privileges that religious bodies have in our healthcare provision.
Atheist Ireland also lobbies politicians of all parties for a secular education system. They all assure us that, if they were starting from scratch, they would not have given the Catholic church the influence that it has over our education system. So why are they actively doing the same thing while spending €800 million on our national maternity hospital?
If the government accepts a 99-year lease on the land that the hospital is built on, they would be knowingly passing this problem down to future generations. The politicians of the next century could then assure their constituents that, if they were starting from scratch, they would not have given the Catholic church this influence over the maternity hospital.
Scandalously, the government is spending €800 million of public money on a project that requires the Sisters of Charity to obtain permission from the Vatican to agree to it. The Vatican is the headquarters of a global religion that poses as a quasi-State when it suits its purposes. Its primary aim is not to provide healthcare, but to evangelise people into Catholicism.
The Vatican has Guidelines for the Administration of Assets in Institutes of Consecrated Life which state that:

“The field of economics is a means of missionary activity for the church… [These assets] are ecclesiastical assets… Through financial transactions, vital choices are made which should reflect the evangelical witness… The ultimate responsibility for administrative, economic, or financial decisions can never be handed over to members of the laity or to those of other Institutes.”

The Vatican has a Charter for Healthcare Workers, which states that:

“Healthcare workers should be given a solid ethico-religious formation, which promotes in them an appreciation of human and Christian values and refines their moral conscience. There is need to develop in them an authentic faith and a true sense of morality, in a sincere search for a religious relationship with God, in whom all ideals of goodness and truth are based.”

Recent referendums on marriage equality, abortion, and blasphemy, have shown a consistent majority in favour of secular government. Our politicians should heed this message, and the State should own and directly run the national maternity hospital. Read online…

Atheist Ireland also had this press release published in the Irish Times which you can read here.

Religion in schools

It is the policy of the Department of Education to develop values in children to enable them to see the relevance of religion to their lives and also to respect Codes of Conduct in relation to beliefs. The Catholic Church has Codes of Conduct in relation to reproductive rights that many parents object to on the grounds of conscience.

Many parents support the separation of church and state and object on conscience grounds to state policy on religion. They teach their children to challenge Codes of Conduct that deny women their reproductive rights.

Despite this schools and teachers make religion classes mandatory and see no issue with undermining the rights of families.

Church and state works together to evangelise children against the wishes of their parents.

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**
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  $32,875 to 1143 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 1849 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 4,073 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

Have you any feedback that you would like to give us on the Secular Sunday newsletter. What are we getting right? What could we improve on? Is there something you would like to see included? Drop us an email at

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.
  • You have a say in determining policy and electing officers.
  • You can attend members meetings and our AGM.
  • You will have access to our members only Facebook group
  • Your membership fee will go towards supporting our many campaigns.

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



Catholic ‘ethos’ was about faith and practice – and land, property, control and power

By Diarmaid Ferriter


This summer 50 years ago it was becoming clear that demands for access to contraception could no longer be contained or suppressed. As a member of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement on the Belfast-Dublin “Contraceptive Train” in May 1971, June Levine pleaded for decorum as her sister crusader Mary Kenny blew up condoms to balloon size and then collapsed with laughter “as she let go of the end and the thing went shooting round the carriage”. Read more…


A real republic should not have charity delivering public welfare

By Fintan O’Toole


There is something Gothic about the story of the new national maternity hospital. It is populated by the undead. Habits of mind that should be long extinct still stalk the land. The most important of these zombie ideas is not religion. It is charity. Read more…

Politicians unite on maternity hospital, but nuns not on the run

By Miriam Lord


Trust in Divine Providence is all well and good, but there is a lot to be said for a wholly owned subsidiary when arranging the disposal of your earthly assets. The clever people who advise the Religious Sisters of Charity are well aware of that.
Giving everything away is an admirable option too, particularly if you decide to gift it all back to yourself in the end
. Read more…


The National Maternity Hospital – Letter to the Irish Times

By Dr Peter Boylan


Sir, – I welcome the Tánaiste’s acknowledgment that the Government is double-checking the legal advice it has received on the proposed relocation plan for the new National Maternity Hospital (News, June 25th). Read more…

Assisted dying ‘already happening’ in Ireland without legislation, campaigner says

By Jack Quann


A campaigner says assisted dying is already taking place in Ireland, even though the legislation is not there.
Michael Nugent, the head of Atheist Ireland, was speaking after new legal concerns were raised over a proposed law. The Dying with Dignity Bill is currently being reviewed by the Oireachtas Justice Committee after a Dáil vote in October. A confidential legal opinion from the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers, seen by the Irish Times, raised concerns about the bill – including that parts of it would be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge. It also identifies “ambiguities and serious drafting errors” in a number of sections. Mr Nugent told Lunchtime Liveit is a question of the law catching up to reality
. Read more…


Vatican accused of meddling in Italys LGBT bill

By Euronews with AP, AFP

Reports that the Vatican has formally opposed an Italian bill expanding anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community have sparked indignation in the southern European country. Read more…


Poland loses billions of dollars through LGBT discrimination, warns US embassy chief

By Daniel Tilles


The most senior US diplomat in Poland has warned that the country is losing billions of dollars a year due to discrimination against LGBT people. His remarks have prompted an angry response from right-wing figures, in a county where the conservative government has led a concerted anti-LGBT campaign. Read more…

Following months of delays, Mubarak Bala is to have his day in court

By Humanists International


Humanists International welcomes news that a hearing in the case of Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala – originally scheduled to take place at the Abuja High Court on 20 April – will take place on 14 July. Arrested from his home in Kaduna state on 28 April 2020, Bala has been held without charge ever since. Read online…


ORDO IURIS: The ultra-conservative organisation transforming Poland

By Claudia Ciobanu


Poland has made headlines recently by virtually banning abortion, passing municipal anti-LGBT resolutions and even trying to coordinate regional opposition to women’s rights. BIRN takes a closer look at Ordo Iuris, the NGO playing a major role in the recent conservative blitzkrieg. Read more…

Report: Poland, Turkey Undermining Women’s and LGBT Rights

By Hamdi Firat Buyuk

A new report published on June 23 by the Hafiza Merkezi Berlin [Memory Centre Berlin] a human rights organisation focusing on rights, freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey and Europe, says the Turkish and Polish governments are using similar tactics to undermine the rights of women and LGBT groups, while Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention has encouraged other authoritarian leaders to follow suit. Read more…


Pakistani lawyer who represented Asia Bibi says he faces threats to his life

By Secunder Kermani


A Pakistani lawyer who has successfully overturned a number of convictions for “blasphemy” has said he believes his life is in danger from extremists. Saif ul Malook most recently oversaw the acquittal of a Christian couple who had been sentenced to death. Read more…


Widespread child marriage in U.S. is a secular issue

By Freedom From Religion Foundation


Did you know that minors can marry in 45 U.S. states? Only this month did Rhode Island join Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in banning marriage for individuals under 18. All of these laws have just been passed within the last three years. New York, with a child marriage ban awaiting gubernatorial signature, is poised to join these states, while two other states (Illinois and Texas) have been considering such a move. Read more…

All children should have the right to refuse circumcision

By Megan Manson


A judge has ruled that a boy who was taken into care shouldn’t be subjected to non-consensual, non-therapeutic genital cutting. This is welcome, says Megan Manson – but every child should have similar rights. Read more…

Evidence and compassion should trump dogma in assisted dying debate

By Stephen Evans


As politicians again grapple with assisted dying, we should beware attempts to impose a religious worldview on those who want the option of alleviating their suffering, argues Stephen Evans. 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.

Newstalk  – Varadkar 100% wrong about Catholic ethos in Holles Street – Boylan



*|YOUTUBE: [$vid=H7ZeG2CDD_I]|*

Freethought Radio – “Religion and Reproductive Rights” -Barbara Alvarez
The National Secular Society – A new Catholic school for Peterborough
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – Why Is Joe Biden’s Catholicism Being Debated?

Media Watch

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