Atheist Ireland lobbies UN on religious education

Campaigning group, Atheist Ireland, has renewed its attack on denominational schooling in its latest submission to the UN.

“Ireland is no longer a Catholic country. We are now a pluralist country with Catholic laws that we are gradually dismantling. The most important next step is removing the anachronistic control that the Catholic Church has over the education of our children,” it said.

“Even if they existed, having 400 multi-denominational schools [a Government target] would not solve the problem, as most parents would not be able to access these schools,” Atheist Ireland said. It also pointed out that “multi-denominational schools are still religious schools. They do not respect the freedom of conscience of atheist families.”

What was needed, it said, were “non-denominational schools, which treat everyone equally and do not promote either religion or atheism”. As “an immediate step” Irish schools “must allow children to leave the classroom during religion class”, it said.

The group has made a complaint to the Irish Comptroller and Auditor General about this “as schools that receive public funding are constitutionally obliged to do this”, it said. It has also complained to the Comptroller about what it describes as “the misuse of public funds regarding the teaching of religion in Irish schools”.

It has asked the UN to raise with the Irish Government the issue in schools of a “right to objective sex education, and section 37 of the Employment Equality Act, which allows publicly funded schools to discriminate against teachers on the ground of religion”.