On 24 February we wrote an open letter to each cabinet member, including An Taoiseach, calling on the office holders to defer moving the 35th Amendment Bill until such time as Article 12.8 was repealed (Presidential Oath).
We had a tiny number of replies from cabinet and Oireachtas members. It was similar for the TDs. No one wanted to engage with our issue. Here is the reply received from the Office of An Taoiseach (dated 16 June – long after our original letter).
But the response does not explain why Article 12.8 was not reformed first.
Press release issued Saturday 23 May for immediate use
Citizens to Separate Church and State (CSCS) welcomes the No-vote in the presidential age referendum (#AgeRef).
We could not understand the government’s proceeding with this referendum (35th) without first fixing the religious discrimination in Constitution Article 12.8, with its requirement for the president-elect to swear a religious oath at installation.
Reform of Art. 12.8 by permitting the use of an ‘affirmation’ has to be put before the people first. It is an abnegation of human rights against non-believers, or those candidates who cannot swear an oath, to continue with this anachronism in our constitution. Unless of course that this State only want believers as its president.
CSCS wrote to every cabinet minister and member of the Oireachtas back in early February pleading with the government not to move the Bill for the 35th amendment in the Oireachtas but instead to act to fix Art. 12.8. Not one minister replied to us. No political party engaged with us either. The government’s response to our pleading was to move the Bill to enable the 35th amendment to be taken without modifying Art. 12.8. The opposition did not demur.
The discriminatory aspect of the ‘forgotten referendum’ has been characterised by omerta in our democracy and media. CSCS got virtually no coverage for its position on this referendum once the campaigning for the marriage referendum got going. We ask: What has happened in our democracy that our view was not given any platform?
The State has been under notice from the UN Human Rights Committee that maintaining the religious oath constitutes a human rights abnegation – as recently as last August in a UNHRC periodic report on Ireland.
Do human rights and ‘equality for all’ only apply in relation to the marriage referendum?
Monday, May 11, 2015
I concur with correspondent Dick Spicer, of Citizens to Separate Church and State, who asserts that the President’s religious oath is a violation of equal rights.
Spicer says that the Government is advocating ‘equal rights’ in the marriage referendum and, on the other hand, promoting religious discrimination in the Presidential-age referendum.
Its absurd that people are required to take an oath to an invisible God that no-one has ever proven exists. In Canada, last week, a secularist association won a high court action to prevent politicians saying prayers in parliament before sessions.
Chinese scientists have unearthed a fossil of an ancient ancestor of modern birds. It is the size of a pigeon, with bat-like wings, and lived approximately 160m years ago. In contrast, humans only came into existence half a million years ago. That is why the Chinese authorities encourage fossil seekers, as they believe the fossils prove the futility of all religions.
It’s now time that we had the separation of Church and State. The story of Adam and Eve is a fairytale that most clergy no longer believe.
Citizens to Separate Church and State (CSCS) wrote to our government (cabinet) on 24 February pleading with it to drop the proposed 35th Amendment to our constitution until the religious oath required by Article 12.8 for installation of the President was amended or dropped.
At that stage the Bill to move the 35th Amendment (age for president) had not been introduced into the Oireachtas.
The government ignored our pleading and the Bill was subsequently moved and passed.
CSCS has issued a short (7 min) video documentary setting out why it is calling for a ‘No’ vote in the Presidential age referendum.
It is CSCS’s view that the government’s 35th amendment is ill-judged and ill–timed because it has failed to deal first with the issue regarding the religious oath that has to be sworn by the president-elect (Article 12.8).
CSCS is struck by the fact that posters produced by the proponents calling for a ‘Yes’ vote in the 34th Amendment (marriage equality) campaign emphasise the ‘Equality’ aspects of this worthy cause but there has been a marked ‘blindness to equality’ in relation to the import of Art. 12.8 in its connection to the 35th amendment proposal.
We are urging citizens genuinely commited to equality for all to vote No and we ask you to consider the contradiction between the two referendums
I find it incredible that out government is on the one hand advocating “equal rights” in the marriage referendum and on the other promoting an extension of religious discrimination in the presidential age referendum.
The religous oath required of presidents (and judges) is being extended to a new generation who might aspire to high office.
This is so clearly a violation of equal rights that it is hard to see how anyone could propose both at the same time.
The formal letters we sent to (1) all cabinet members, (2) Oireachtas members and political parties and (3) various faith bodies back in February when CSCS was formed were an attempt to have the Presidential Age Referendum (35th Amendment; #AgeRef) dropped until the human rights abnegation contained in Article 12.8 was remedied.
At that stage the Bill moving the Age Referendum had not been introduced into the Oireachtas so it could have been pulled by the government. Remember that this amendment was not even in the Programme for government.
Needless to say we have received not a single reply from any government minister, Oireachtas member or faith body to our plea. Total silence.
Omerta rules! Ireland continues to make much about human rights issues abroad but is blinded by the motes in its own eyes.
The celebration of the centenary of Proclamation of the Republic takes place next year. A strange place.
Is it just me, or do the rest of your readers also find it incredible that the Government is, on the one hand, advocating ‘equal rights’ in the marriage referendum, and on the other, promoting religious discrimination in the Presidential-age referendum?
The religious oath required of Presidents (and judges) is being extended to a new generation who might aspire to high office.
This is so clearly a violation of ‘equal rights’ that it is hard to see how anyone could propose both at the same time, let alone vote for both.
Unless, maybe, the left hand won’t know what the right is doing?
Press release for immediate use from Citizens to Separate Church and State (CSCS) opposing the 35th amendment (AgeRef)
CSCS has issued a short (7 min) video documentary setting out why it is calling for a ‘No’ vote in the Presidential age referendum (35th amendment).
The government’s 35th amendment is ill-judged and –timed because it has failed to deal with the issue regarding the religious oath that has to be sworn by the president-elect (Article 12.8).