Secular Sunday #565 – Misuse of public funds in schools

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Misuse of public funds in schools


Atheist Ireland wrote again this week to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee and the Comptroller and Auditor General about the misuse of public funds by the Department of Education. We also met with the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman to discuss the rights of children and parents in schools, and Michael Nugent did an interview on Newstalk Radio about how to leave the Catholic Church.The Department of Education is funding schools, while knowing that those schools do not adhere to the constitutional conditions of those funds, which include respecting the right of children to not attend religious instruction and the rights of parents in relation to religious and moral formation of their children.

The Department also knows that schools are ignoring their legal obligations to tell parents in their admissions policies how they will deal with students who do not want to attend religious instruction. In reality most schools either tell parents to meet with the principal, or hide behind an invented distinction between religious instruction and education that has no basis in law.

In the recent Burke case about home schooling, the Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Education, when translating government policy into an administrative scheme, has to respect the constitutional rights of children and parents. The rights we are campaigning for are stronger than the rights in that case, as ours are explicitly written into the constitution and law.

You can help us to campaign on these and other secular issues 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


Department of Education misusing public funds by ignoring constitutional rights


Since last December, Atheist Ireland has been lobbying to vindicate the constitutional right to not attend religious instruction in schools, and to uphold parental authority in the education of their children, which the Supreme Court has described as a foundational pillar of the Constitution.
You can read details here of our correspondence to date with various bodies
We have today sent this letter to the Oireachtas Committee on Public Accounts.
Dear Public Accounts Committee Secretariat, thank you for your letter dated 10 October, which begins:

“I refer to the meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts on 15 September 2022. The Committee considered your correspondence dated 27 July 2022 regarding Atheist Ireland’s ongoing engagement with the Department of Education.”

Can we first clarify that our letter of 27 July was not primarily about our ongoing engagement with the Department of Education. It was about our complaint to the Committee on Public Accounts about the misuse of public funds by the Department of Education. We were, and still are, asking your committee to examine this complaint, and to take action to end this misuse of public funds.
Like any issue, this issue has aspects which other bodies can also examine. However, it is your Committee’s remit and responsibility to examine those elements of this issue that involve the misuse of public funds. We would like a response from your committee to the substance of our complaint. We are happy to meet with your committee to clarify these issues further.
Our letter of 27 July was in response to your letter of 4 July, in which you noted that:

(a) There is ongoing engagement between the Department and Atheist Ireland.
(b) The matters raised in our correspondence relate to an interpretation of the Irish Constitution, and it is not the role of your Committee to adjudicate on such interpretations.
(c) It is not within your Committee’s remit to examine the merits of Government policy that might flow from such interpretations.
(d) We might make our enquiry to the Oireachtas Education Committee.

In our letter of 27 July, we addressed these four issues as follows:

(a) We were then still waiting for the Department of Education to get back to us with a response. However, we said that the Department of Education should not be left to examine itself regarding its misuse of public funds.
(b) We were not asking you to adjudicate on any interpretations of the Constitution because the Oireachtas already funds and upholds the determinations of the Constitution made by the Supreme Court, whose role it is to make such determinations.
(c) We were not asking you to examine the merits of any government policy or indeed of any legislation. We were asking you to examine the failure of the Department of Education to administer Constitutional rights and legislation, with regard to state funding of schools, in accordance with the distinction made between policy and administration by the Supreme Court in the Burke case.
(d) We had been also, as you suggested, raising aspects of the issue with the Oireachtas Education Committee. However, we said it is your Committee’s remit to examine those elements of the issue that involve the misuse of public funds.

You have asked for our consent to forward our correspondence dated 27 July 2022 to the Joint Committee on Education for any action it might deem appropriate. You say that matters regarding the implementation of legislation are within the remit of that Committee. As we have said, we are also raising aspects of the issue with the Oireachtas Education Committee. Read more….

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


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  $37,955 to 1328 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 1953 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




DPC facing legal action over GDPR complaint against Catholic Church


By High court reporters

A man has launched High Court proceedings over what he claims is the Data Protection Commission’s failure to complete an investigation of a complaint he made over the Catholic Church’s refusal to destroy records it has about him. Read more…



Iranian Protests: Organised Religion is Killing Women


By Molly Cantwell


As anti-hijab protests rage on throughout Iran, claiming more and more lives every day, an examination of the effects of organised religion on the female population is worthy of an investigation. Read more…

Queensland considers stronger regulations after students quizzed over teacher’s living arrangements


By Ben Smee


Queensland’s education minister, Grace Grace, says she is considering beefing up the powers of the independent schools’ regulator, to ensure students outside the state system are “protected and supported”.. Read more…


Most Brits don’t think secondary school RE is important, poll finds


By  The National Secular Society


Over half of British adults do not think it is important for religious education to be taught in secondary schools. Almost three-fifths (58%) of British adults said religious studies is “not very important” (31%) or “not at all important (27%) in secondary education, in response to a YouGov poll in October. Read online…


Child evangelism isn’t charitable


By Megan Manson

Religious organisations with a focus on evangelising and converting children are exploitative and potentially harmful. They shouldn’t be enabled by our charity or education systems, says Megan Manson.. Read more…

No religious phrasing in preamble, FFRF tells Tenn. county board


By The Freedom From Religion Foundation

A Tennessee county board must remove blatantly sectarian religious language from its preamble, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is insisting. A concerned local resident has notified the state/church watchdog that on Oct. 17, the Sumner County Board of Commissioners voted to pass a preamble and rules declaring itself a commission based on “Judeo-Christian values,” despite the county’s legal director urging it not toRead 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. – If I were the Minister for Education – Episode 024: Leaving Cert Points and Church Interference



Freethought Radio – Secular Legislators

Media Watch

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


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