Please see the below answers which we received today from Alan Kelly who’s standing in Tipperary North for the Labour Party.
Thanks for your recent email. I set out a response to each of your questions which I trust will be of interest to you.
* Do you favour a secular education system fully under state control?
– Labour wants to reform our education system so that it is more democratic, and recognises the diversity of ethos within modern Irish society.
* Do you believe blasphemy should be a crime?
– At last year’s Labour Party Conference, the conference called on the Labour Party, that as part of its programme for Government it should promise to hold a referendum proposing to delete the word ‘blasphemous’ from Article 4.1.6 of the Constitution and to repeal any legislation that made reference to blasphemy as a form of defamation. This motion was passed at conference.
* Do you favour removing the constitutional requirement that judges and the President swear a religious oath upon entering office?
– Any alteration to the constitution would require a constitutional referendum on the issue, at present Labour does not foresee such a referendum taking place.
* In light of the recent ECHR ruling, do you favour the introduction of legislation to regulate abortion?
– The Labour Party policy on the question of Abortion is that we support the removal of the eighth amendment to the constitution and its replacement with modern legislation providing for abortion in defined circumstances. There are in the Labour Party as in all political parties, members who have deep conscientious reservations about abortion. Nevertheless a strong majority support the policy decided at our national conference in 2001 and confirmed in 2003. It is entirely in keeping with the legacy of Dr. Noel Browne that the Labour Party should take a stand against those who would seek to dictate a particular religious dogma, whatever its provenance as state legislation, and which puts the well-being of women at risk.
* Do you favour the removal of funding for religious chaplains in state funded institutions?
– The state is constitutionally (Article 44.2.2) obliged to remain secular and not to fund any one religion.Religion is a matter of personal conviction, it should be noted that it should not be publicly funded, especially given the more multi-ethnic nature of today’s Ireland and the potential for exclusion for citizens of the state.