About Atheist Ireland
Atheist Ireland is a democratic and successful advocacy group for secularism, rationality, pluralism and human rights. Formed in November 2008 , Atheist Ireland promotes atheism and reason over superstition and supernaturalism, and also promotes an ethical, secular society where the State does not support or finance or give special treatment to any religion.
Atheist Ireland has a democratic structure and is a major player in leading reform, promoting wellbeing, equality, justice, rationality and human rights in Ireland and abroad. Atheist Ireland adheres to a policy of peaceful and legal advocacy via debates, media, information tables, lunches, education, lobbying and rational argument etc.
Atheist Ireland is a member of the Humanists International, an umbrella organisation of groups and individuals around the world committed to promoting and defending reason and the humanistic worldview.
Some Achievements of Atheist Ireland
- Repeal of the Blasphemy Law: Atheist Ireland led the campaign to repeal the 2010 Blasphemy Law and successfully campaigned for a Blasphemy Referendum to be called.
- Blasphemy Referendum: Atheist Ireland played a major part in ensuring a 65% to 35% successful yes vote to revoke the Irish Blasphemy Law in the 2017 Referendum.
- In August 2020 Atheist Ireland successfully acquired and published a legal opinion regarding students’ rights to not attend religious instruction, and to be supervised or be given an alternative subject, under Article 44.2.4° (and other Articles) of the Constitution. Atheist Ireland has successfully shown that one such consequence of this legal opinion is a teacher being placed in the legal conflict between adherence to Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act versus respecting the constitutional rights of the child under Article 44.2.4 to not attend religious instruction, the inalienable rights of parents to respect for their convictions under Article 42.1, and the rights of atheists, humanists, and secularists to freedom of conscience under Article 44.2.1 and personal rights under 40.3.1. Atheist Ireland has sent this legal opinion to the teaching unions, the Minister of Education, the Department of Education and Skills, the National Parents Council and other educational partners. Meetings with education partners have been successfully arranged.
- United Nations, European Union etc : Atheist Ireland has successfully informed, lobbied and presented submissions to the UN and EU on education, which have facilitated national and international awareness of the State continuing to deny minorities their human rights. For example, the UN Human Rights Committee, the European Commission of Human Rights and the Irish Human Rights Commission have recommended that the Education Act 1998 be amended to ensure that the curriculum is delivered in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner.
- Highlighting equality and rationality: Atheist Ireland has successfully addressed various Oireachtas Committees, the Constitutional Convention, Citizens Assembly, United Nations Committees, the OSCE, Council of Europe bodies, and the Presidents of the European Union.
- Elimination of Discrimination against women: In 2017 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recommended that Ireland should integrate objective compulsory sex education into the school curriculum and should closely monitor and evaluate its delivery by schools. This was a result of Atheist Ireland raising this issue with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It was the first time the UN examined sex education in Irish schools. Atheist Ireland is a member and supporter of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.
- Promoting Reason, Rationality and Atheism: Atheist Ireland successfully organises numerous meetings, lunches, information tables, social media outlets, debates, lesson plans, social events and regularly contributes to TV/Radio programmes. Parallel to this, the number of people identifying as non-religious was nearly 470,000 in 2016 (Irish Census 2016).
- Irish Census Reform: Advocacy from Atheist Ireland has helped many census questions to be updated, including those on religion, for Census 2021.
- Improvements in secular education: Advocacy from Atheist Ireland has helped bring about changes to the Equal Status Act and Education Act.
- Repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution: Atheist Ireland was a member of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendmentand played a prominent role in the successful repeal.
- Promoting understanding and tolerance etc: Despite different world points of view, Atheist Ireland works with the Ahmadi Muslims and Evangelical Alliance to promote secularism within education.
- Covid-19 Activities: Despite the pandemic and lockdown Atheist Ireland has managed to continue its advocacy and support activities via online lobbying, remote video online meetings, email and social media communications etc. This includes a Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues and a Draft Submission to UNCRC (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child).