Category: Ireland

Asking Muslims to reform Islam, or expecting M…

Asking Muslims to reform Islam, or expecting Muslims to pay any attention to what Westerners think of their beliefs might seem like a tall order, but we had something encouraging happen a few weeks ago in Ireland. 

A few weeks ago, an Islamic cleric in Ireland made a statement essentially recommending FGM for Muslim girls. 

There was an uproar. 

He retracted his statement and the official Muslim position on FGM in Ireland now calls on Muslims to stop the practice and report anyone who has performed FGM to the police. 

If we’re going to trash Muslims for having stupid beliefs, as I have on many occasions, I think we should probably point out when they get it right. 

Religious people all over Ireland are starti…

Religious people all over Ireland are starting to understand that being religious makes you sound stupid and hypocritical. 

Conservative Catholics all over Ireland are starting to understand that the history of the Catholic Church in Ireland is nothing to be proud about.

Women in Ireland have been fighting for the ri…

Women in Ireland have been fighting for the right to abortion access since 1983. It is indeed bolloxology

Here is a quick primer on what happened in 1983 and here’s a quick overview of how we got here

Taken from a “secret", members-only, pro-…

Taken from a “secret", members-only, pro-life Facebook groups.

Even religious people are starting to understand that the mere fact of being religious makes you sound like an idiot.

Please please talk about your god and your religion as much as possible when you’re trying to talk people into your bullshit.

In Ireland, we’re going to have a referendum t…

In Ireland, we’re going to have a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment (i.e. to decriminalise abortion) this year. There seems to be a great deal of confusion about what we’re being asked.

We’re not being asked: “What do you think of abortion?”

We’re not being asked: “Would you have an abortion?”

We’re not being asked: “What do you think of women who have abortions?”

We are being asked: 

“Should abortion be legally available to those who want it?”

If you answer “Yes” to that, it’s an enormous stretch (which I have no problem referring to as “a lie”) to call your position “pro-abortion”.

In Ireland, the Catholic Church controls 96% o…

In Ireland, the Catholic Church controls 96% of the primary schools. They claim, as they must by law, that they show no favouritism in admissions, however they are entitled under the same law to prioritise families which share their “ethos” when dealing with over-subscriptions. 


If you’re wondering why this is a problem, please refer to the first sentence of this post.

Inevitably, schools have been accused of under-resourcing their needs, and many non-religious parents have baptised their children just to make sure those kids can get into a school four years later. This has the effect of wildly exaggerating the number of “real” Catholics in the country, with knock-on effects for any public policy using those figures. 

Last year, 

Minister for Education Richard Bruton announced that he planned to end what has become known as the “baptism barrier”. At the time, the church reacted with “a shrug”, but this week, they are threatening “a series of legal challenges from parents and religious bodies”. 

Their argument is that other religions will not be subject to this secularisation, which is a fair point, but to see why it’s perhaps not as immediately relevant as they might think, I would again refer you to the first sentence of this post. The idea that the Catholic groups are suddenly interested in making sure all religions have the same rights and responsibilities, privileges and duties is ludicrous for obvious reasons. 

You should have the right to adopt any religion you like, and teach your children about it any way you want, but keep it out of state-funded schools (and all other public institutions).

Atheist Ireland has been running a campaign for some time to make this happen. Help them out if you want to.

[via John Hamill] The fallout continues from …

[via John Hamill]

The fallout continues from the Atheist Ireland campaign (which was crowdfunded) to secure ETB foundational documents under Irish Freedom of Information legislation.  

The first extract is what Cavan / Monaghan ETB circulated to all school principals in relation to their religion classes. 

The second extract is the how the same ETB described the same religion classes when a non-religious parent asked.

Over the last few years, the Irish government has been subject…

Over the last few years, the Irish government has been subject to criticism of its failure to address a legal obligation to provide education to all children in the state, regardless of religion. The criticism is that nearly all the schools in Ireland are owned by the Catholic Church, staffed by people who are required to demonstrate a commitment to Catholic values, and actively promote a Catholic ethos. 

Recently, the government response has been to recommend that non-Catholics (22% of the population in the last census) send their children to schools run by Educational and Training Boards (ETBs). The Catholic Church itself welcomed this approach to accommodating diversity. 

However, an in-depth investigation by Atheist Ireland has revealed that at least some ETBs were also actively promoting a Catholic ethos. Some highlights of that investigation include the following direct quotes from Tipperary ETB documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act:

  • “The Christian belief, ethos and characteristic spirit of our schools is Catholic.”
  • “… it is our duty to have prayer / put up Christian symbols etc.”
  • “The importance of Religious Education being viewed as a core subject in the curriculum.”
  • “In addition to class hours, time must be allowed for regular class, school and year based liturgies as well as an annual retreat or pilgrimage.”

Again, these are the schools the government regards as suitable for non-Catholic students. At the risk of stating the obvious, this affects not just atheists, but also Protestants, Muslims and Hindus, who have established communities in Ireland. 

There’s a real disconnect when trying to explain these problems to Catholics, particularly if they’re in positions of authority. They just don’t seem to understand that some people don’t want their children exposed to the Catholic religion. They’re not “making trouble”, or “being like that”. They’re exercising their legal rights. 

[via Jane Donnelly @ Atheist Ireland] Diploma to teach the…

[via Jane Donnelly @ Atheist Ireland]

Diploma to teach the Catholic Religion is a requirement to get a job as a teacher in the vast majority of publicly funded Primary Schools in Ireland. Access to the teaching profession is not an option for religious minorities and those with no religious faith.

Catholic Bishops approve the appointment of all teachers in most Primary Schools. 

This is the grip that the Church has on our education system and the reason why minorities cannot access the teaching profession.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you that opposition to abortion…

Don’t believe anyone who tells you that opposition to abortion in Ireland is not based in religion. Also, don’t believe anyone who tells you any of these anti-choice people give a damn about actual, real children.

The Irish Groups Opposing Abortion and the Rights of Living Children

1. The Life Institute: a Catholic organisation active in Ireland, is opposed to abortion. They also believe that sex before marriage is wrong and campaign to stop the life-saving cervical cancer vaccine being given to teenage girls. They have deliberately spread distortions and lies about the vaccine to try and scare parents from inoculating their children.

2. Youth Defence: a far right-wing Catholic organisation with a history of violence and speaking at fascist events. Niamh Ui Briain, “of the Life Institute” is one of the founders of Youth Defence. 

3. The Family and Life Movement: currently engaged in a major online advertising campaign. They run a programme called “Educate for Life” in schools, where a team of speakers visit schools delivering a multi-media presentation on the development of the unborn baby.

4. Human Life International Ireland: right-wing Catholic organisation which has issued a “St. Michael archangel prayer for [the] downfall of “Children’s Rights referendum”.

5. The Iona Institute: a Catholic think-tank which “promotes the place of marriage and religion in society”. It opposes contraception, sex outside marriage, and civil partnership for gay people. The organisation has spoken out against the Children’s Referendum.

6. The Pro-Life Campaign: Describes itself as a non-denominational lobby group. Its website lists three people who are involved: Geraldine Martin runs a Catholic children’s charity. Legal advisor Caroline Simons has spoken on “pro-life and pro-family movements“ for Catholic TV stations. John O’Reilly, Secretary, was a prominent campaigner in Ireland’s 1983 abortion referendum and was involved in an organisation called “The Council of Social Concern“ which was closely connected to the Knights of Columbanus.

7. The Catholic Church: the Catholic Church backed the “Choose Life“ campaign, a month-long campaign of prayer and lobbying to keep abortion out of Ireland. In contrast, they have stayed silent on the Children’s Referendum, despite many calls for them to come out in support. Remember, this is the same organisation that systematically tortured, raped and abused of thousands of Irish children over many generations, and who continue to go to great lengths to conceal their crimes.

There is no convincing evidence that any statistically significant proportion of anti-abortion campaigners are not religiously motivated. And if there really is many secularists out there who feel that these voices don’t represent their anti-abortion or anti-referendum views, where are they?