Secular Sunday #549 – The UN will question Ireland this week

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The UN will question Ireland this week


The United Nations Human Rights Committee will be examining Ireland’s human rights record this Monday and Tuesday under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Human Rights Committee is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors this treaty.

Atheist Ireland has made a submission about freedom of conscience, religion, and belief. You can read our submission here on our website or here on the United Nations website.

The issues that we have raised are as follows:

• Education (Admission to Schools) Act
• No secular or non-denominational schools
• The right of parents to freedom of conscience
• The right to a neutral studying environment
• Religious Oaths in the Constitution
• Section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Act 1998

You can watch the sessions in which Ireland will be questioned on the UN’s WebTV service. They will be streamed on Monday 4 July from 2pm and on Tuesday 5 July from 9am

Also, in the last few weeks parents of children who are starting school this September are attending meetings in schools, where information about the school and the procedures is conveyed.

Unfortunately most schools give no information on the right to not attend religious instruction at these meetings or in their Admission policies, despite schools having a legal obligation to include these details in their Admission policies. Please let us know if you face this problem.

As always, you can help us to continue our work by joining Atheist Ireland as a member, or by asking anybody who you think may be interested in joining us to do so. We are an entirely voluntary body with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our work. You can join Atheist Ireland here.

– 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

Schools ignore legal duty to publish arrangements for children who do not attend religious instruction

In the last few weeks parents of children who are starting school this September are attending meetings in schools where information about the school and the procedures is conveyed.
Unfortunately no information is given on the right to not attend religious instruction at these meetings or in the Admission policies of the schools.
This is contrary to Section 62.7(n) Education (Admissions to Schools) Act 2018, under which School Admission policies are supposed to inform parents of the arrangements for children who exercise their right to not attend religious instruction .
Schools cannot even comply with a simple legal requirement to inform parents of the arrangements of the right to not attend religious instruction, which is a condition of state funding.
The Minister for Education, Norma Foley and the Department of Education is aware that this is happening and will do nothing about it.
In 2020 Atheist Ireland wrote to the Minister and also the Oireachtas Education Committee. We compiled a Report of 100 Admission Policies. To date nothing has changed and it seems that church and state are doing all they can to ensure that parents do not exercise their constitutional rights in relation to the education of their children. They want to make things as hard as they can for parents and their children who do not suport the ethos of the school.
Under Article 44.2.4 the state funding of schools is conditional on the right of students to attend the school and not attend religious instruction, yet this is given no practical application on the ground.
Church and State are afraid to give practical application to the right to not attend religious instruction and to enforce it because they know that the numbers of students not attending religious instruction will increase significantly.
If they were at all committed to the Constitutional rights of parents they would ensure that the right to not attend religious instruction was given practical application on the ground and is enforced. Giving lip service to the right doesn’t work. It must be enforced.
Section 62.7(n) of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 states that:

“62.7 An Admission Policy shall…
(n) provide details of the school’s arrangements in respect of any student, where the parent
of that student, or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the
student, has requested that the student attend the school without attending religious
instruction at the school (which arrangements shall not result in a reduction in the school
day in respect of the student concerned)”

It is the Board of Management of schools that make policy, not the Principal of the School or the teachers. This means that when the Admission policy is published (a legal requirement) the school Principal and teachers should already be aware of the arrangements for students who exercise their right to not attend religious instruction. This means that a decision has been taken by the Board of management not to put those arrangements in their Admission Policies notwithstanding the fact that they are legally obliged to do so.
The purpose of the legal requirement to put the arrangements for students not attending religious instructions was to ensure transparency.
The majority of Admission policies tell parents to come into the school and discuss the issue at a meeting. That is not the purpose of Section 62-7(n) of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018.
This refusal to put the arrangements into Admission policy comes from the Patron bodies and its purpose is to stem the flow of students exercising their right to not attend religious instruction. At primary level the main Patron body is the Catholic Church.
Here are some quotes about this Section of the Act from the then Minister for Education Richard Bruton during the Oireachtas debate on the issue: Read more…

Should hospitals have religious symbols? Michael Nugent discussed this with Father Joe McDonald on Virgin Media’s Ireland AM this morning

*|YOUTUBE: [$vid=iCyFsEIN9bk]|*


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. 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

Be Good without Gods

Atheist Ireland ‘Good Without Gods’ Kiva team members have made loans of  $37,050 to 1291 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 1927 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 4,112 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




New US Ambassador lost her faith for years after church abuse horror


By Irish Central Staff


Claire Cronin, 63, the new US ambassador to Ireland, has revealed how she stopped going to mass for three years after the church pedophile scandals and talked about her role in negotiating settlements on behalf of victims as part of her law practice. In an interview with The Irish Times, Cronin said the scandals “did shake her faith”, causing her to stop going to mass for three years. Read more…





“Census 2021 data shows Australians are less religious and more culturally diverse than ever”


By Markus Mannheim


Australians are increasingly unlikely to worship a god and more likely to come from immigrant families. The 2021 census has revealed a growing nation — more than 25 million people — that is more diverse than ever.
It also depicts a country undergoing significant cultural changes.
Read more…

The US supreme court is letting prayer back in public schools. This is unsettling


By Moira Donegan


The court’s rightwing majority was extremely receptive to a case this week that would weaken the separation of church and state. On Monday, the United States supreme court overturned decades of precedent governing the separation of church and state, and achieved one of the most long-standing goals of the Christian right: the return of official Christian prayer to public schools. Read more…


Atheist worker fired after refusing to attend company’s Christian prayer in NC, feds say


By Julia Marnin


A home repair company’s mandatory daily Christian prayer sessions for its employees were becoming “less tolerable” for an atheist construction manager who refused to continue attending — resulting in his firing in North Carolina, federal officials said in a lawsuit.  Read more…

Alarm as US supreme court takes a hatchet to church-state separation


By David Smith

A series of court decisions has raised fears that the conservative majority are forcing religion back into the US political system. When America’s highest court ended the constitutional right to abortion after half a century, Jeff Landry, the attorney general of Louisiana, knew whom he wanted to thank. Read more…


State funded theology colleges “can be exempt” from free speech duty


By The National Secular Society


Publicly funded theological colleges may be exempt from duties on universities to promote free speech, a minister has said. The National Secular Society raised concerns that some theological colleges registered with the Office for Students (OfS), which can therefore access public funds including student loans, have policies that restrict academic freedom and freedom of speech. Read more…

Afghanistan: Humanists International condemns systematic erasure of women and girls from public life


By Humanists International


The UN Human Rights Council has convened today to hold an urgent debate on the widespread and systematic violations of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. Humanists International’s Director of Advocacy, Elizabeth O’Casey, intervened during the urgent debate. Read more…

Nigeria: Court inefficiencies delay appeal process in case of Mubarak Bala


By Humanists International


Humanists International urges the Nigerian authorities to facilitate the release of court documents so that the appeals process in the case of Mubarak Bala may proceed unhindered. On 5 April 2022, President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, Mubarak Bala was sentenced to 24 years in prison having pled guilty to charges of ‘conducting himself in a manner likely to cause breach of public peace’ in connection with a series of Facebook posts deemed ‘blasphemous’ by some. 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 – Requiem for the Supreme Court
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – Roe-verturned

Media Watch

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




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