Matt Cooper of Today FM talked yesterday to me and Education Minister Richard Bruton, about plans to change the baptism rule in Irish schools. My interview is above, Minister Bruton’s is below.


RichardBrutonThe Minister for Education has today announced deeply flawed proposals to amend the Baptism rule for access to State-funded schools, but without changing the law on school ethos. What seems to be the best of the four options in the plan, removing the baptism rule completely, is actually the worst, as the Minister says that “Under this last option religious schools could require parents or students to indicate support for the school’s religious ethos.”

So removing the Baptism rule completely would mean that minority belief parents must support the evangelising of their children into the Catholic faith. It would merely give children of minority belief families equal access to being compulsorily discriminated against within the schools, which is where the real problem is, and would give the Catholic Church access to more minority belief children to evangelise into Catholicism.

The other three of the Minister’s discussion options (catchment area, nearest school and quotas) would merely fine-tune the religious discrimination in access, and would still result in children being refused access to their local school because of the religious or nonreligious beliefs of their parents.

The Minister says this is to protect the rights of minority faiths to run their own schools, but that approach just legitimises even more religious discrimination. Currently, Church of Ireland schools discriminate against Evangelicals, and Islamic schools discriminate against Ahmadi Muslims. Every minority family and child has the same right to be treated equally. These plans will not do that.

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Voice of Islam Radio talked yesterday to me and Imam Ibrahim Noonan of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, about our joint campaign along with Evangelical Alliance Ireland to end religious discrimination in Irish schools. My interview is above, Ibrahim’s is below.


I’ve written an opinion piece in today’s Irish Times in which I argue that reason and science are the most reliable ways to understand reality, that political secularism is a force for good in three ways, and that the happiest states with the best social outcomes are secular liberal democracies.

You can read it here on the Irish Times website:
A secular State is best for religious and atheist citizens


Remembering my father Michael who died five years ago today

January 9, 2017

My father Michael Nugent died five years ago today, after an inspirational 89 years of life. He was the calmest man I knew. If an alien spaceship had landed in our garden, he would have invited them in for tea before asking who they were. He was nearly ninety when his body gave up. He […]

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Ou va l’Irlande? My interview in La Raison magazine

December 29, 2016

The current edition of La Raison, the magazine of La Libre Pensee, has an interview with me about atheism and secularism in Ireland. It’s based on discussions that I had with Philippe Besson last June. Here are screenshots of the interview.

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Proposed religious education plans will not end evangelisation in schools

December 28, 2016

The proposed plans to remove religion as a core subject in primary schools will make no difference in practice unless the Education Act is also changed to ensure that schools do not deliver the State curriculum in accordance with Catholic ethos. Here is my interview with Newstalk’s Tom Dunne about this today.

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My vegan Christmas dinner

December 26, 2016

My brother Gerard cooked his first vegan Christmas dinner for me yesterday. It was absolutely delicious. Started with tomato, cheezly, and basil pesto, followed by Miso soup and salad. The main course was stuffed aubergine with tofu, guacamole, and the usual Christmas veg trimmings. Fruit and crumble for dessert. Everyone else had the traditional Christmas […]

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Remembering the inspirational Marie Fleming

December 20, 2016

Marie Fleming died three years ago today. She was an inspirational and courageous woman. She did more to promote an ethical compassionate Ireland for dying people and their families, than have the Irish politicians who have yet to legislate for assisted dying. Marie’s partner Tom Curran is the European Spokesperson at Exit International. He is a […]

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Atheist, Evangelical and Ahmadiyya Muslim alliance addresses Oireachtas Education Committee

December 17, 2016

Ending religious discrimination in Irish schools – powerful presentation by Jane Donnelly to the Oireachtas Joint Education Committee, speaking on behalf of Atheist Ireland, Evangelical Alliance Ireland and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, on 15 December 2016.

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