Atheist Ireland at the Constitutional Convention

Michael Nugent provides video and transcripts of three speeches Saturday at the Constitutional Convention meeting about blasphemy law.

A bit from Michael’s:

You have rights, your beliefs do not. That is the essence of freedom of conscience.

You can respect my right to believe that there is no God, while not respecting the content of my belief. And I can respect your right to believe that there is a God, without respecting the content of your belief.

But blasphemy laws discriminate against atheists. They treat religious beliefs and sensitivities as more worthy of legal protection than atheist beliefs and sensitivities. [Read more...]

Loosen the screws, the better to tighten them

Hmm, it’s good to get rid of a blasphemy law, but it’s not good to replace it with “a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred” – meaning, apparently, to include something that forbids so-called incitement to religious hatred. Unfortunately that’s just what Ireland’s constitutional convention has recommended, according to the Irish Times.

The constitutional offence of blasphemy should be replaced with a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred, the constitutional convention has recommended. [Read more...]

Priests who brooked no opposition of any kind

There’s a little book published in association with RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) in 1986, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl. It started as a series of radio interviews with writers, who then lived up to their job titles by writing up what they’d said. Polly Devlin included in her account a look at the grip the church had on Ireland in the 1950s.

As a social system our Catholic religion constituted a tyranny – not within the confines of our family but certainly outside it. We as a family were brought up in a dispensation that was different from that heavily medieval Catholic one that obtained in the parish…My father had been brought up in an enlightened way so that not only was there no bigotry in our house, there was a real tolerance. The parish, however, was run as a great many Irish parishes were run at that time, by priests who brooked no opposition of any kind. [Read more...]

The Magdalene laundries

The report on the Magdalene laundries in Ireland is out.

Between 1922 and 1996 around 10,000 women are known to have entered Magdalen laundries, working for no pay in what were lonely and frightening places.

Senator McAleese and his committee were asked to outline the extent of state involvement and knowledge of the women in these laundries.

In each of the five categories it examined, it found evidence of state involvement. Most notably, 26% of the women who entered the laundries were referred there by the state.

The authorities also inspected the laundries, funded them, and registered the departures and deaths of the women there.

But it found that there was a legal basis for the state’s involvement as many of the women were referred by the courts as a condition of probation, or under supervision after enrolment in industrial schools.

Many but not all. That means that some were there without due process. That means they were unlawfully held prisoner – in an institution the state was partly involved with. It’s incredibly sinister. [Read more...]

No you may not decide for you

The anti-abortion phalanx in Ireland is shouting louder than ever, according to the BBC.

The groups taking part – Youth Defence, Pro Life Ireland and the Catholic organisation, the Iona Institute – testify to the polemical nature of the debate here.

“Keep Your Promise!” they shout – a direct reference to a 2011 election pledge by the main party in Ireland’s coalition not to legislate for abortion.

Nice pledge – a “promise” to keep women enslaved by the physical fact that it’s possible to become pregnant without consent. [Read more...]

It’s still a Christian country

Cork city councillors don’t want no stinkin’ secularism. Cork city councillors say Ireland is a Christian country so there.

A proposal to scrap a prayer at the start of a local authority meeting sparked an unholy row last night.

Cork’s city councillors voted overwhelmingly against the move after a heated debate.

Socialist Party councillor Mick Barry, an atheist, called for the deletion of a rule governing the order of council business which states that the start of the council’s public meetings should include the recitation of an opening prayer, followed by a brief period of silent reflection.

The prayer reads: “Direct, we beseech thee, O Lord, our actions by thy holy inspirations and carry them on by thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from thee, and by thee be happily ended; through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

That’s a very terrible prayer. Look at it. It means that they think whatever they do has been directed by what they take to be a good and all-powerful god. It makes them think they’re infallible.

Or maybe it doesn’t, because it’s just some words, and they don’t really listen or take it in or draw the obvious conclusions. Maybe. But why trust people to ignore their own Holy Formulas? And even if they don’t decide they’re infallible because they’ve said the prayer, they probably do assume they’re better for it, and a little protected from doing Definitely Bad Things.

Cllr Joe O’Callaghan (FG) said: “If it was good enough for Connolly, then it’s good enough for me. With all its faults, I’m a Catholic and I’m proud of that. And it’s still a Christian country and long may that continue.”

See? Like that. With all its faults, he’s proud of being a Catholic. What a thing to be proud of! “With all its faults” indeed – “all its faults” are a damn good reason to leave it.