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Support Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech

We are Charlie Hebdo

Nous sommes Charlie Hebdo

Is sinn Charlie Hebdo

I and I hope most Mid West Humanists support the right to life of 10 staff at Charlie Hebdo in Paris and of 2 officers of French police; and support their right to freedom of speech, and all people’s right to read any writing and any cartoon or other communication, whether or not it criticises or satirises any idea, whether religious, political, social, sporting, or scientific.

I praise Charlie Hebdo staff for publishing words and pictures without any respect for the ideas of several religions.

 

Are you powerless to do anything about some people murdering cartoonists and journalists who are doing their job (enabling you to read things that are prohibited in some countries)?

You are not powerless.

On TV I see that all the government of France and very many of the people support the right to speak, draw, and publish any matter, irrespective of any offence to any ideas.

France has a principle of secularism in the state (laicité) since 1905, now nearly half the time since the revolution in 1789. Ireland is weak in secularism, as the Constitution since 1937 states that blasphemy is an offence, and in 2009 our legislators continued a law to give effect to that article of the Constitution. Government and other people in Pakistan quote Ireland’s law to say that it is normal, including in Europe, for the law to prohibit criticism of religion. Our constitution and law fail to support the strong efforts of the constitution and law of France to maintain and defend freedom of speech. Today Thursday 08 January Dr Ali Salim of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Dublin said on RTE Radio 1 lunchtime news that it is correct that outraging many adherents of a religion is prohibited by law, and he said that if such outrage comes to his attention he will consult his lawyer as to what to do.

In 2013 the Constitutional Convention voted to suggest to the Government that they hold a referendum to let us choose to remove the law against blasphemy from the Constitution. The Government promised that it would hold this referendum, but at the end of 2014 they said that they will not let us vote on this.

 

You have power as a voter.

Visit all of the TDs in your constituency soon, and tell them that you demand that the Dáil and Senate vote for a bill to let us vote in a referendum on removing the sentence making blasphemy an offence from our Constitution. And tell them NOT to include substituting any sentence in its place.

I feel I owe this support to Charlie Hebdo’s journalists and cartoonists, and to all publishing staff there and in other parts of the world, and to the police who have been trying to protect them, as they are defending my right to freedom of speech.

 

Vive la liberté!

 

We are Charlie Hebdo

Nous sommes Charlie Hebdo

Is sinn Charlie Hebdo

Media Release – Mid West Humanists meet Minister for Education and ask that Ireland have a State Secular system of schools

This is what we sent to the local press after the visit to the Minister for Education and Skills

Mid West Humanists

An Atheist Community in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary

www.midwesthumanists.com/                        info@midwesthumanists.com

www.facebook.com/groups/midwesthumanists/                        28 November 2014

MEDIA RELEASE

 

For Immediate Release

 

Mid-West Humanists meet Minister for Education and Skills and ask that Ireland have a State Secular system of schools

 

Members of the Mid-West Humanists (MWH) met Jan O’Sullivan TD Minister for Education and Skills on 28 November 2014 to ask that Ireland’s system of schools, primary and second-level, be changed to a state system of entirely secular schools.

The Mid West Humanists said to the Minister that the present education system discriminates against children who have no religion and breaches their human rights by denying them access to an education free from the teaching of religious beliefs as facts. These children have the same rights as those of any religion to be taught in an objective manner by the teachers, whom their parents also pay through their taxes. In the last census in 2011 there were 256,000 people who stated that they had no religion, though the true number is substantially more.

The present system – the Patronage system – is biased towards religion, and towards some few religions even more strongly.

There are 3200 primary schools in Ireland. For 94% of these schools, the Patron is a religious organisation, and for 90% the Patron is Roman Catholic. Of the 3200 schools, 1800 are each more than 10km from the nearest other primary school. These all have Roman Catholic patrons. These schools are smaller than average, and these districts cannot support 2 schools.
The changes that the Mid-West Humanists seek to Ireland’s education system, in addition to removing the bias and the discrimination, will make it easier for government to deal with the increasing variety of religions to which people in Ireland belong – including making it easier to provide education.

The secular system that we propose would also liberate teachers who are unhappily forced to teach values in which they no longer believe.

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Mid West Humanists tell Minister for Education that schools should be secular and in State ownership

A delegation from the Mid West Humanists met Ms Jan O’Sullivan T.D., Minister for Education and Skills at her office in Limerick on 28  November 2014.

We asked the Minister that Ireland’s education system change from the present system to a State system of entirely secular schools.

 

Here is the full text of the letter we gave to the Minister at the visit.

 

To Jan O’Sullivan TD, Minister for Education and Skills

A Secular and Child- centred Education system for Ireland

 

Dear Minister O’Sullivan

 

We are people with no religion, and there are between 10% and 15% of the population of Ireland who have no religion, perhaps more – the proportion is certainly growing.

While we note that the education system is biased towards religion (and towards some few religions even more strongly),
the changes that we seek to Ireland’s education system, in addition to removing this bias, will make it easier for government to deal with the increasing variety of religions to which people in Ireland belong – including making it easier to provide education.

The Mid West Humanists ask that the system of schools in Ireland, primary and second-level, become a system of entirely secular schools that the state operates itself. Several other changes in relevant law and in the curriculum would follow from this plan
We propose this change with rational arguments, and we aim to show that this would be the best for society in Ireland, with reasons that do not depend on the particular needs or requests of people with no religion, nor on the particular number or proportion of the population who hold any particular religious or non-religious view.

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April 2014, Secular Sunday Brunch in Ennis

What: A Secular Sunday Brunch meetup for Humanists, Atheists & Freethinkers

When: Sunday, April 6, 12 noon
Where: Rowan Tree Hostel, Ennis
Who:  Adults and children welcome
Check out our events page on Facebook
for more information and if you’d like to share a car to the event.  Hope to see you there!

Announcing our First Secular Sunday Brunch!

What: A Secular Sunday Brunch meetup for Humanists, Atheists & Freethinkers

When: Sunday, January 26th, 12 noon
Where: U.L. Sports Arena Restaurant
Who:  Bring the kids too!
Check out the event on Facebook
for more information and if you’d like to share a car to the event.  Hope to see you there!

Constitutional Convention Public Meeting in Limerick 27 Nov 2013

The Constitutional Convention has held meetings of its members for several weekends in 2013. The last one on Saturday 02 and Sunday 03 November voted to recommend removing the clause that states that Blasphemy is an offence.

The Convention it to meet over 2 weekends in February 2014 to discuss issues beyond the issues that the Government sent to it.

The Convention’s website has been open to the public to put up submissions on what other issues it will discuss in February 2014. This will close on 19 November.

The Convention has held evening meetings open to the public, also to receive submissions (you take your turn to stand up and speak).

There is to be a public meeting in Limerick

at 19:30 on Wednesday 27 November 2014

in the Strand Hotel.

The Mid West Humanists suggest that any person who wants the Constitution changed so that it is secular and free of religious influences attend the meeting and tell the Convention how they want the Constitution to be changed.

The other meetings were in

Cork             23 October

Galway        30 October

Waterford   7 November

Dublin           11 and 13 November

They will meet at 19:30 in these venues

Sligo             19 November             Sligo City Hall

Athlone       20 November           Radison SAS Hotel

Monaghan  25 November          Monaghan Institute of Further Education and Training.

Limerick     27 November           Strand Hotel

Mid West Humanists visit their TDs

When the government announced in 2012 that they would set up a Constitutional Convention, as promised before the General Election in 2011, the Mid West Humanists decided to visit the TDs in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary to ask them to have the Convention discuss making the Constitution secular.

By the time the Convention was starting its work in early 2013, the Dáil and Senate had included the part of Article 40 that makes Blasphemy an offence in the list for the Convention’s discussions.

Making the Constitution secular has not been on the list, but the Convention is considering what issues to discuss at 2 weekend meetings in February 2014. You can increase the chances that they will discuss Secular Constitution by making a submission to the Convention’s Submissions page. Give your own views, as in another post here.

So the Mid West Humanists set the plan to visit the TDs for close to the time when the Convention would discuss the anti-blasphemy clause.

The Convention discussed the anti-blasphemy clause on Saturday 02 and Sunday 03 November 2013. They voted to remove the clause; unfortunately they also voted to put in a replacement clause to prohibit religious hate crime. These are recommendations, and any referendum depends on a vote in the Dáil and Senate.

Members of the Mid West Humanists have talked to 3 of the 4 TDs in Limerick City and 2 of the 3 TDs in North Tipperary. We expect to get to speak to the other TDs in this region in the next few weeks. The TDs have listened to our proposals, which are in other posts here [Blasphemy, Declarations, Secular] ;

and in our submissions to the Constitutional Convention [Blasphemy, Declarations, Secular].

We asked the TDs to vote for referenda to let the people decide on removing the Blasphemy offence from the Constitution and on making the Constitution secular. We do not yet know what the TDs or their political parties think about this.

Watch out for more news.

Anybody who is a humanist or atheist and lives in Kerry-Limerick West would be welcome to help with the visits to TDs: please email info@midwesthumanists.com

UL Law Society has invited Mid West Humanists to talk on their Submissions to the Constitutional Convention

Kevin Whooley who is President of the Law Society for students in the University of Limerick recently invited the Mid West Humanists to give a talk to the Society, with an account of their activities, and of their submissions to the Constitutional Convention on Blasphemy and on a Secular Constitution.

I understand from Kevin that the UL Law Society is for law students, but open to all students, and that they value having an instructional talk from an outside person or group each year or each semester. The talk to the Society is likely to be on a Wednesday, early in the afternoon, in October 2013.

It will be best if several members of the Mid West Humanists come to the Society’s meeting. As spokesperson for public occasions, I will go to the Society’s meeting if it is on a Wednesday or other afternoon. If some other MWHs can make such a time that will work well. Kevin told me that meetings may be in the early evening, but fewer students attend then than in the early afternoon.

We await further news about the date. Send any observations you have about the date to info@midwesthumanists.com.

UCD L+H Society have invited Mid West Humanist representative to speak on “This House would believe in a God”

On 06 August 2013 Valerie Tierney who is Debates Convenor for the Literary and Historical Society (L+H) of University College Dublin (UCD) invited the Mid West Humanists to send a representative to their debate on Wednesday 23 October 2013 on the motion –

“This House would believe in a God”.

I replied that we would send a representative to speak, against the motion.

The debate is sure to be in UCD, but we await instructions on the exact place, and on the time. The time is likely to be in the early evening. When we know we will post the time and place here.

Student debating societies are usually open to the public as well. So any Mid West Humanists can attend.

Secular weddings and the Humanist Association of Ireland

Marcus Brooks and Joni Spence commented on the report of the 19 June meeting discussion on the HAI EGM and the problem with their Celebrants being made state Solemnisers. Many visitors to our website would like to understand what this is about.

The criticism of the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) for accepting its Celebrants being legal Solemnisers of state marriages, under the Civil Registration Amendment Act 2012, is not that the HAI should not provide marriage and civil partnership ceremonies that are also the legal bond, but that accepting this generally admirable plan under this particular law will inhibit the HAI from secular campaigning. And Ireland needs a national body that will campaign vigorously (not weakly) for a secular state and a secular society.

Mid West Humanists’  views on secular marriages

People who have come to the Mid West Humanists’  (MWH) meetings have talked of secular marriage ceremonies many times. The commonest view has been about people who want a marriage, wanting to have the ceremony free of any religious matter. I think people who spoke also wanted not to be involved in the hypocrisy of using a church organisation for their wedding when they do not believe in a god, and have not and will not be attending the church for years before and after the marriage. People also wanted not to show hypocrisy by marrying in a church when they say to their relatives and friends that they have no religion. Some people who have come to MWH meetings have talked of the difficulty in getting people to believe that you do not have a religion.

In 2011 several meetings discussed whether we could do something to have the HSE improve the decor of the Registry Office in St Camillus’ Hospital Limerick, to a standard that two people and their few guests would feel good enough for the ceremony of a major new stage of their lives. We didn’t get around to doing anything.

New attenders and visitors to the website often ask how to contact a humanist celebrant, and we always give a contact for the Celebrants of the Humanist Association of Ireland. There is a link to this in the left sidebar.

I’ve never heard anyone speak in favour of having two procedures or events: but I can see a person wanting to have the legal start of his or her marriage being like any other formal signing of a contract, and thus being free to have the party run in any way they like – this person might want to have two events.

Humanist Association of Ireland and Marriages

The question within the Humanist Association of Ireland is not about the State registering marriages with the officiant or solemniser having no connection to a religion. Up to 2012 the only non-religious officiants have been the State’s registrars. Many Mid West Humanists (and others) were happy with this, and the limits were about the poor decor in the Limerick office (and elsewhere, I would suspect), and how the Registrar worked only on weekdays and it was quite hard to get the Registrar to officiate at places outside the Office. Many other people wanted the type of ceremony that the Humanist Celebrants organise, and saw no good reason to have to go to the Registry Office as well.

The people within the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI), and people who attend the Mid West Humanists, who see difficulty with the HAI and the Civil Registration Amendment Act 2012 (CRAA), have never spoken against pairs of people (who plan to marry or be civil partners) getting to have only one ceremony and it having no religious content. All the critics of the HAI’s stance see this aim as entirely reasonable.

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