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Mid West Humanists’ Submission to Minister for Education and Skills on admission rules to National Schools

On 16 January 2017 the Department of Education sought submissions from interested persons and groups on the role of denominational religion in the school admissions process and possible approaches for making changes.

The Mid-West Humanists today 11 March 2017 have sent the following submission to the Department.


Mid West Humanists                                                           March 2017


To Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Education and Skills


  1. The Mid-West Humanists make this submission
  2. Who the Mid-West Humanists are
  3. Mid-West Humanists’ reasons to meet includes the problems with education for those with no religion
  4. The plan we submit will benefit also people in religions with less numerous adherents, and will make governing the State and keeping peace easier
  5. Subjects that the Consultation Paper and the Minister mention, which this Submission uses
    5.1. Lower admission priority and the pressure to baptise are not fair to families and parents
    5.2. Ethos is a part of Approach 4(2) – so this Submission addresses ethos
    5.3. Understanding the different religions in the community and including all children with respect
    5.4. The Constitution of Ireland, parts relevant to education and State schools
  6. Principles of the Mid-West Humanists on which their view how to run National Schools is built
    6.1. A society fair to all people, and no rights for institutions
    6.2. Children’s rights,
    1) to develop intellectually, that adults and the State not blur their differentiation of ideas based on evidence and reason from ideas that people believe without evidence
    2) to know all the variety of people among whom they live/ will live, to feel at home in society
  7. The Mid-West Humanists’ view on the Paper’s 4 or 6 suggested approaches to admissions to schools
    7.1. General – all 4 or 6 approaches are unreasonable
    7.2. Approaches 1, 2, 3, 4(3)
    7.3. Approach 4(2) – pressure to agree to ethos is the same as pressure to baptise, unfair
    7.4. Approach 4(1) – children’s rights will be infringed after admission unless ethos is secular
  8. The Mid-West Humanists’ own view on the best admission rules, and the correct ethos
    8.1. Repeal the Equal Status Act 2000 Section 7.3(c) entirely
    8.2. Teachers must teach all the religions together to all children together, fairly and neutrally
    8.3. To not blur distinctions of basing on evidence, teachers not to state religious ideas as true
    8.4. The Constitution gives the teaching of religious doctrines to parents and not to the State
    8.5. The State makes children attend school, so it must be fair and make schools secular
  9. Replies to the 4 questions that the Consultation Paper asks about all approaches
    9.1. It is unfair that any religious group have State-funded schools
    9.2. The Constitution mandates the State removing religious influence in schools which it funds
    9.3. The legal support for National Schools and the Minister’s power to change how they run
    9.4. Unintended impacts of our approach are not a problem
  10. Additional ideas
    10.1. The value to society of all schools being secular, with no discrimination on admission
    10.2. Constitution and international conventions support secular ethos and no discrimination
    10.3. Misconceptions about National Schools’ legal status, and the real status
  11. Conclusion
    11.1. Changes needed and the power to make changes: the changes are constitutional
    11.2. Reasons for changes: children’s rights to development and to be at home in society

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Darwin Day Events in Ireland

This Thursday is Darwin Day and there are numerous events planned world wide.

There are several events in Ireland that you may be interested in.

Wednesday the 11th sees the Irish Skeptics Society hosting a lecture by Professor Tom Hayden, School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin entitled “Charles Darwin and the Origin of Humans”. The lecture takes place at 8.00pm in the Davenport Hotel, Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

Thursday the 12th will be the HAI’s Annual Darwin Day lecture. The lecture takes place at 7.30pm in the Davis theatre, Arts building,Trinity College, Dublin. This year’s speaker is Professor David McConnell, Professor of Genetics, TCD and the topic is “Darwin, genetics, and the nature of humankind”.

Last but not least our own Mid-west Humanists event will be a trip to the Burren to explore the flora and geology of this unique area. This will replace our normal monthly meeting and takes place on Sunday the 15th at 11.00am. Meet up is in the underground car park across from the Castletroy Park Hotel and we’ll be car pooling.

There are also a number of other Irish events planned this year details of which can be found here.

Hope you’re able to attend one or more of these events and to all an early Happy Darwin Day!

Update – Those of you who, like me, cannot attend any of these events may be interested in this virtual meeting/conference call at 18.00 GMT on the 12th. There is also a Facebook group and of course the man himself twitters.

FORA.tv – Eugenie Scott: Bigfoot and Wild Men of the Forest


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What if the Drugs do Work?

A bit off topic for this blog but what the heck.

Apparently the use of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall to boost academic and work performance is on the rise with up to 7% of University students in the USA using these drugs. A recent paper in Nature suggests that rather than trying to stop this rise we should legalise the use of performance enhancing drugs, or as they put it “Mentally competent adults should be able to engage in cognitive enhancement using drugs.”. While Ritalin and Adderall are the most common drugs now newer drugs like modafinil (brand name Provigil) also offer new benefits like reducing the need for sleep.

My own initial reaction is to agree. If there are no major side effects, or if those side effects are known and someone chooses to accept them, then people should have the right to use anything means to improve themselves. One day soon this may apply not just to drugs but to cybernetic enhancements.

In general I’m in favour of the maximum amount of freedom people can take and this seems a clear case to me but as always I’m open to being corrected. What do you think?

via Wired