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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

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.

Continue reading

HAI’s EGM on 26 June 2013 – discussed at Mid West Humanists meeting 19 June 2013

The Mid West Humanists meeting on Wednesday 19 June 2013 discussed the forthcoming

Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI)

which is to be on

Wednesday 26 June 2013 at 19:00 in

Gandon Suite

O’Callaghan Davenport Hotel

Merrion Square

Dublin 2.

This meeting will be open only to members of the HAI.

The EGM is to do with HAI Celebrants being made State legal Solemnisers of marriages, and how that might inhibit the HAI from campaigning for political changes moving towards a secular society.

The HAI (founded 1993) has about 500 members in the Republic of Ireland and it enables humanists to meet and support each other, campaigns for state institutions to be secular (particularly including schools being fair to children with religion and without religion), and accredits celebrants so that people can have marriages, funerals, and naming their babies without any religious content to the ceremonies; and has further related aims and activities.

The HAI is a company limited by guarantee and so is subject to the Companies Acts.

The HAI has aims generally similar to the Mid West Humanists (MWH). The MWH benefit from the HAI giving notice about our meetings in their 2-monthly magazine, and a link on their website, and on occasion the HAI have sent someone to speak to the MWH. While there are not very close links between the two, people who attend the MWH know that there is a national humanist organisation that will help with major issues. The MWH website has links both to the HAI generally and to their Celebrants.

At the meeting on 19 June 2013 exactly half the attenders were members of HAI and the other half were not. Because HAI is a national organisation and because many new attenders at MWH meetings and new visitors to the website ask about humanist ceremonies (particularly marriages), even though less than half our attenders generally are members of HAI, the problems to be discussed at their Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) are of substantial interest to most Mid West humanists.

Problems leading to the EGM

Andrew Devine-Rattigan who is a member of HAI asked all HAI members to support a call for this EGM in April 2013, and at least 10% of members agreed, and that is sufficient to make the EGM happen.

Andrew wrote about the following problem. Continue reading

Mid West Humanists send submission to the Constitutional Convention on a Secular Constitution

At meetings in March, April, and May 2013 we have discussed a submission to go to the Constitutional Convention, on removing the parts of the Constitution that are biased  against people of no religion; and thereby making the Constitution secular.

The Constitutional Convention is due to discuss other aspects of the Constitution, which the Government did not put on its agenda, at its meeting on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 01 December 2013.

We are hoping that a Secular Constitution will be discussed then.

The Mid West Humanists have sent a submission, as detailed further below.

The more people who ask the Convention to discuss an issue, the more likely it will be that the Convention will deal with it.

So we suggest that every person who thinks the Constitution should  be secular should send their own personal submission to the Convention. You do not need to make a case with detailed arguments.

Go to the Constitutional Convention website, which has a button marked “Make a Submission” which will lead you to the submission page.

You can write “Secular Constitution” as the title of your submission. The site has a “Comment” box, in which you can write your views, up to 1000 characters (this 1000 includes the spaces between words). You can attach a file but you do not have to do so.

You will have to give your name, address, email, and phone number: but only your name and your County will be shown on the Convention’s website. Several submitters with titles that are clearly not real names have managed to get submissions in.

The Constitutional Convention website will lead you to the Mid West Humanists’  submission.

The page for an individual submission shows comment of not more than 9 lines, and a link to download the submission’s larger file. Our submission is in a Word file.

When you press that link the download box may say that the file is “AttachmentDownload.ashx” (rather than the name of our submission).
You can download the file – with the Save option (do not choose to open it immediately). When you see your own computer’s dialog box about where to save the file, you can rename this file. If your computer is not set up to open this dialog box, find where the saved file is and rename it.
Put any name you choose, but make its extension (suffix) .doc – “MidWestHumanistsSecular.doc”.
Microsoft Word will open the file – it remained a Word file but the Convention’s website renames it.

How the Mid West Humanists would like the various Articles of the Constitution to be after the changes is in a Meeting Report.

Here is what we sent to the Convention: –

from Mid West Humanists 22 May 2013

The Mid West Humanists are people with no religion (people meeting monthly since 2008), in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary.

To the Constitutional Convention

Making the Constitution of Ireland secular

Reason to make this Submission to the Convention

The Convention has already considered issues outside the list that the Government set. Accordingly the Mid West Humanists propose changes to make the Constitution secular, in addition to their proposal to delete the criminalisation of blasphemy.

Continue reading

Mid West Humanists send submission to the Constitutional Convention to remove the offence of Blasphemy from the Constitution

At meetings in March, April, and May 2013 we have discussed a submission to go to the Constitutional Convention, on removing the offence of Blasphemy.

The Constitutional Convention is due to discuss the section of the Constitution that makes blasphemy an offence (part of Article 40. 6. 1. i) at its meeting on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October 2013.

The Constitutional Convention website will lead you to the Mid West Humanists’ submission.

The page for an individual submission shows comment of not more than 9 lines, and a link to download the submission’s larger file. Our submission is in a Word file.

When you press that link the download box may say that the file is “AttachmentDownload.ashx” (rather than the name of our submission).
You can download the file – with the Save option (do not choose to open it immediately). When you see your own computer’s dialog box about where to save the file, you can rename this file. If your computer is not set up to open this dialog box, find where the saved file is and rename it.
Put any name you choose, but make its extension (suffix) .doc – “MidWestHumanistsBlasphemy.doc”.
Microsoft Word will open the file – it remained a Word file but the Convention’s website renames it.

How the Mid West Humanists would like Article 40 to be after the change is in a Meeting Report.

Here is what we sent to the Convention: –

from Mid West Humanists 22 May 2013

The Mid West Humanists are people with no religion (people meeting monthly since 2008), in Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary.

To the Constitutional Convention

Removing the Blasphemy offence from the Constitution of Ireland

Continue reading

Update on getting the press to contact us

As planned at the meeting on 19 December 2012, I sent the general information document for the press on 08 January 2013, to local newspapers and to local radio stations. It describes the group and its aims, and provide a contact number and email for any paper or station who want a secular, humanist, or atheist view on any news items in the Mid West region.

Late on 08 01 2013 the Clare Champion telephoned and asked for some humanists in Clare that they could telephone. I got agreement from 2 of our members and gave their phone numbers to the Champion early on 09 01 2013.

Late on 08 01 2013 the Tipperary Mid West Community radio station phoned me, and I spoke on their Morning Call program with Joe Pryce on the morning of 09 01 2013. Early on 09 01 2013 Tipp FM radio phoned me and I spoke on their Tipp Today program with Seamus Martin the same morning.

The Limerick Post emailed me on 09 01 2013 and I am to speak to them on 10 01 2013 for a story about people moving away from Christianity.

This is all good news and good results from the press information pack. I hope that at times stories arise in the news here, we the local group will put input into local radio or newspapers.

What the Mid West Humanists sent to the press and radio on 08 January 2013

As planned I sent the following to 13 local newspapers and 4 local radio stations by email on 08 01 2013, and later by post. I sent this information document to those on the email and phone lists on 20 12 2012, and again on 07 01 2013.

—————————————————————–

Mid West Humanists

(People without religion)

General Information about the Mid West Humanists

The Mid West Humanists are a group of people (from Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary) with no religion, or leaning that way (since 2008).

The Mid West Humanists meet monthly in Limerick, at present in the Absolute Hotel, 3rd Wednesday of the month at 20:00

The Mid West Humanists seek social and political changes, that society and the state should – (1) be secular; (2) treat equally people who have religion and people who have no religion; (3) be more open to people who have no religion.

How to contact the Mid West Humanists

Peter O’Hara is contact person for the media on Humanism, Secular society, or any connected matters.

Website                midwesthumanists.com

The contact person can speak (and obtain further people to speak) both on people’s personal experience of humanism and the change from religion, and also on government and non-government structures that create difficulty for or are unfair to people who have no religion (and the changes needed). Continue reading

Decemeber 2012 meeting: plans to encourage the press to contact us

Although the Mid West Humanists have met every month since 2008, at times stories arise in the news here, and we the local group have not put input into local radio or newspapers.

From the meeting in September 2012 the members have wanted to encourage the local press and radio to take input from us on  stories affecting humanist, atheist, and secular people, including cases of discrimination against them.

At the meeting on 19 December 2012 those present edited an information document for the press, and a press release which is due to be sent when the Constitutional Convention starts to look at the Blasphemy provision.
We plan to send the general information document to local newspapers and to local radio stations in the second week of January 2013. It will describe the group and its aims, and provide a contact number and email for any paper or station who want a secular, humanist, or atheist view on any news items in the Mid West region.

We hope this will mean that the local media will give our point of view some airing. We hope this will contribute to changes in society, towards a secular society.

Election 2011

Knowing who to vote for isn’t easy.

Conor McGrath of Atheist Ireland has prepared a secular analysis of several of the parties manifestoes which I’ve linked to below –

You might also like to look at the responses to Athesit Ireland’s questions from candidates and parties here.

Below are the answers we received to the questions we sent to local candidates. As you can see we received only a small number of responses and I’d like to thank all those who took the time to respond.

Jim Connolly – Ind. – Clare
Hi Jason,
You are right on being busy — I am canvassing all day and have 30 emails to deal with. I believe in debate and never give sound bite opinions. In haste please see http://www.td4clare for evidence of my lifetime involvement with humanitarian / quality of life issues.
Regards,Jim
*******************************************************************************************************
Michael McNamara – Labour – Clare
In line with our Labour policy, here is my response.
* Do you favour a secular education system fully under state control? Yes
* Do you believe blasphemy should be a crime? No
* Do you favour removing the constitutional requirement that judges and the President swear a religious oath upon entering office? Yes
* In light of the recent ECHR ruling, do you favour the introduction of legislation to regulate abortion? Yes
* Do you favour the removal of funding for religious chaplains in state funded institutions? Yes
*******************************************************************************************************
Olwyn O’Malley – Green Party – Tipp North

Dear Jason
Thanks for corresponding with me.. unfortunately I don’t have much time or the resources to reply to the mountain of correspondence I am getting so please find my succinct replies below
*Do you favour a secular education system fully under state control? The green Party is in favour of a secular state education system
* Do you believe blasphemy should be a crime? No
* Do you favour removing the constitutional requirement that judges and the President swear a religious oath upon entering office? Yes
* In light of the recent ECHR ruling, do you favour the introduction of legislation to regulate abortion? Yes
* Do you favour the removal of funding for religious chaplains in state funded institutions? No if they are carrying out a necessary role within that institution such as counselling services but there should also be secular services available
Hope this addresses your queries
kind regards
*******************************************************************************************************
James Breen – Ind. – Clare

Dear Mr. Spratt,
While I understand that each of these issues is very important to you, I think that it is also important that we realize we are in a time of crisis in our country.  While each of us carries burning passions for issues (my own is healthcare in Clare), we must prioritize fixing our broken country.
In order to do this, I propose that we reform our government, go after the speculators and banks who put us in this position, kickstart our economy by setting up centers for innovation, investing in education and smaller class sizes, investing in top class healthcare for our citizens and reducing the cost of prescription drugs in line with other countries in the EU, tackling crime and protecting our environment and natural resources.
Once we have righted ourselves as a nation then we can tackle our other issues, but until that time, I promise you one thing; I am committed to doing whatever is in my power to creating a climate where the best solutions are brought forward and implemented by our government and the people of Claire are represented in Dail Eireann.
Thank you for your interest in my campaign,
*******************************************************************************************************
Kate Bopp – Ind. – Tipp. North

Dear Jason,
Thank you for your email.
Below are the answer previously given,
1) Yes, this is contained in my policies. I intend to campaign for a secular educational system with he removal of any religious preferences from publicly funded education
2) Again; Yes.
3) To quote from my own website: ” I will call for removal of references to religion in the constitution. Revision of the Defamation Act to ensure compliance with the Article 40.6.1 of the Irish Constitution ensuring Freedom of Speech.”
4) I will support and call for removal of any religious ethos from all publicly funded institutions including hospitals. However privately funded institutions should have the freedom to promote their own religious ethos
5) Yes.
6) Yes, although the implementation of this will need very specific & detailed study.
7) I am a strong supporter of freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech. This means that everyone should be free to believe in whatever they want to choose not to have any religion. However it also means that religion is a private matter and should in no way be part of public life or institution.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

*******************************************************************************************************

Hope all of this is some help in guiding your decision.

Catholic Church on Civil Unions

Well, it would appear, based on the comments of the wonderfully verbose Cardinal (a fancy word for Mr.) Sean Brady in this Irish Times article, that allowing same-sex couples the legal right to marry or cohabitate and have that marriage/cohabitation recognised as a fully legal civil union, would result in Ireland turning into a country full of lawlessness, unemployment and drug abuse, since British and US studies, according to our wonderfully neutral clergyman, suggest that:

“children born outside of marriage are more likely to do worse at school, suffer poorer health and are more likely to face problems of unemployment, drugs and crime.”

…I’m sorry what?

Cardinal Brady is also quoted as saying that:

“one in four children of cohabiting parents experienced family breakdown before they started school, compared to just one in 10 children of married parents.”

If you actually analyse this statement, all it says is that the family is 25% likely to breakdown before the child starts school. Well, my parents have been seperated since I was 9 or 10, and I do not regularly inject myself with heroin, snort cocaine, steal cars, mug people or spend most of my late nights on the streets of Limerick hunting for food among my drunken peers, so it would appear that even though my family has broken down, I am not contributing to godless anarchy. (I am contributing to widespread godlessness, but that’s actually a good thing!)

It’s interesting that Cardinal Brady envisions that Ireland would be plummetted into some Catholic vision of godless anarchy based solely on the fact that we, the people of this republic, would wish to grant the same rights of marriage and cohabitation to all citizens regardless of gender or sexuality. Only a man tapped into the wondrous drug of religion would make the so clearly obvious connection between civil liberty and godless anarchy.

It makes me wonder whether Sodom and Gomorrah were simply guilty of promoting civil liberties, as opposed to being highly immoral rapists and sodomites. But, wait hang on…aren’t the Catholic priests the immoral rapists…? Oh, no, sorry, my mistake, they already paid for those crimes.

It’s also interesting to see that Cardinal Brady’s utterly rational and sane argument against universal civil union rights relies on the “fact” that

“[Catholic teaching] is linked to the complementarity of the sexes…and this was not something it was possible for any individual to change. It is part of the order of things since Creation.”

I’m sorry…Creation?

Don’t we have billions of years of highly substantiated and valid evidence that renders the Creation myth utterly null and void? – Yes, we do.
And don’t we also have millions of examples throughout biology, in both the macroscopic and microscopic realm, of creatures that do not, in fact, have “complimentarity of the sexes” as a matter of nature? – Yes, we do.

So, even if we accepted for a split-second the Creation Myth, if God created all the biological life on the planet (haha) he would have created those creatures without “complimentarity of the sexes” also, and as such that concept would no longer be unique to human relationships or useful in our discussion.

By the way “complimentarity of the sexes” is simply a highly convoluted phrase used by Mr. Brady to attempt to make those of us who are not paying attention assume that two sexes is all there is, was and ever can be.

So, please, Cardinal Brady, do not try and assert your bare-faced bigotry to anyone else in this country, because none of your objections against allowing men to marry men and women to marry women do not stand up to scrutiny. They merely serve to insult both your intelligence and that of the Irish people you claim to be acting in the best interest of.

If you wish to provide some form of substantial and verified evidence to back up your claims of godless anarchy resulting from the Civil Partnership Bill, we would all love to hear it, but all you have presented us with thus far is “suggestions” of propensities towards anti-social behaviour in children of cohabiting parents, which is really just a way of saying non-married parents have stroppy children, which still remains to seen in an actual study, my dear Cardinal.

The Civil Partnership Bill is set to become law some time next year, and it seems for Cardinal Brady that

“it is difficult to see how anything other than the introduction of de facto marriage for cohabiting and same-sex couples is envisaged”.

Well, yes, Einstein, that’s kind of the point!

Ignoring for a moment the vacuous and baseless claims provided by the insightful Cardinal, what would actually be wrong with having de facto marriage for cohabiting and same-sex couples?

Oh, yes, that’s right, nothing.

Although he would never admit it publicly, I’m fairly confident (though I freely admit I have no evidence for this, unlike the Cardinal) that the charming Cardinal’s views are not far from those of the vitriolic Pastor Fred Phelps at GodHatesIreland.com

Patsy McGarry, the author of this Irish Times article mentions:

In his address to the Céifin conference on November 4th, Cardinal Brady indicated that the Government could face a legal challenge if the Civil Partnership Bill became law. “Those who are committed to the probity of the Constitution, to the moral integrity of the word of God and to the precious human value of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of society may have to pursue all avenues of legal and democratic challenge to the published legislation if this is the case,” he said.

Those who are committed to the probity of the Constitution have my support, however those who are committed to the “moral integrity” of the “word of God” need to watch out, as they have no place whatsoever in civil matters. Just as campaigners for the views of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be thrown out of any serious discussion on laws affecting the country, so too should the Catholic church and any other religious parties be thrown out of the discussion. If your opinion is solely informed by your religious sensibilities and/or beliefs, then your opinion has no place anywhere other than your home or your pulpit. It most certainly does not belong in the laws of our country. (Or any country for that matter!)

If the Catholic church is stupid enough to challenge this bill, I will be right behind them pulling their “arguments” out from under them, and I suggest you do the same should it come to it!

And as for those who are to committed to the “precious human value of marriage between a man and a woman as the foundation of society” let me say this once and once only. The quality of a child’s upbringing and their resulting contributions to (or detractions from) our society has got absolutely nothing to do with the fact of whether or not they grow up in a home with a female mother and male father. It has to do with the quality of the parents and their care for that child. I can almost guarantee you that a cohabiting gay couple committed to each other and the happiness of a child in their care would be much better parents than a large proportion of our married heterosexual population. And that is merely one possibility in a multi-faceted situation.

Man and woman as the foundation of society is a dead concept and is no longer relevant in our modern society, and while the religious types are stuck in an apopleptic fit about marriage being a thing of the past, we as a society are moving onwards to a society where uttering a phrase such as “complimentarity of the sexes” as support for a religiously informed opinion would earn you a swift smack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. (Not the Irish Times in this case!)

People are the foundation of society. Black people, white people, mocha people, sane people, crazy people, religious people, irreligious people, heterosexual people, homsexual people, bisexual people, transexual people, young people, old people, big people, small people, important people, regular people, disabled people, homeless people, they all play their part.

As do you. Peace.