Letter published in the Irish Times – Religious oaths and secular education

02/08/2022 10:21 - 10:21




Sir, — The UN Human Rights Committee has again told Ireland to provide secular education by establishing non-denominational schools, and to further amend the Employment Equality Act to bar all forms of discrimination against teachers and medical workers.

The UN has also told Ireland to remove the religious oaths in the Constitution for people who take up senior public office positions, taking into account the right not to be compelled to reveal one’s thoughts or adherence to a religion or belief in public.

Atheist Ireland has repeatedly raised these three issues with the UN, and the Irish State has repeatedly told the UN that it will address them, but the Government never carries through on these commitments.

Indeed, Ireland misled the UN this year by saying the Government’s objective is to have 400 “multidenominational or non-denominational schools”. But this is not true. The programme for Government refers only to “multidenominational” schools.

What the UN has asked for is secular or non-denominational schools, which they explicitly refer to in this week’s concluding observations.

Atheist Ireland continues to promote these three fundamental human rights: the right to secular education through non-denominational schools; the right to teach in schools and work in hospitals without religious discrimination, and the right to be president, a judge, taoiseach, or tánaiste, without swearing a religious oath that a conscientious atheist could not take. — Yours, etc,