80% of Irish people want total separation of church and state

by Michael Nugent on December 12, 2011

More than eight in every ten Irish people want the church and state to be totally separate, 65% strongly agree that this should happen, and less than three in ten have quite a lot or a great deal of confidence in religious groups.

That’s according to a survey of 1,242 people conducted in June for We The Citizens, who today launched a report calling for a national Citizens’ Assembly to give ordinary Irish people a structured direct say in our political decisions.

The report also found strong support for secular education.

  • Seven in every ten Irish people want religious education to focus on teaching students about different religions rather than promoting one set of religious beliefs. And less than two in every ten disagree that this should happen.
  • 46% would welcome most primary and secondary schools being taken out of church control, compared to just 36% against this. Even in Connacht/Ulster, where people were less supportive, more were still in favour than against.
  • And seven in every ten want the Irish education system to encourage more creativity and independent thought.

The report describes how We The Citizens organised a series of regional events and independent surveys, followed by a pilot CItizens’ Assembly, in which a representative group of citizens was randomly chosen, then given expert information and the opportunity to deliberate on particular policy issues.

It covers opinions on a wide range of issues, including proposals on defect reduction, participation rates of women and young people in politics, the need for civic and social education, and the need for openness, transparency and accountability in government.

It concludes that an ongoing Citizens’ Assembly mechanism would strengthen our democracy by helping to restore trust in the democratic system of government. You can read the full report on the We The Citizens website.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 manus magee December 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Look at what happens when you get a well funded movement. We the Citizens is fronted by Mr. Mac Conghail a Fine Gael appointed Senator! A so-called “citizens’ assembly” where the agenda was preset by a conservative academic elite think-tank. A new politics consisting of a glossy report to government from the We the Citizens so-called “citizens’ assembly” recommends property and water taxes! A report which also recommends that a citizens’ assembly be absorbed into the coalition’s proposed Constitution Review Convention. A new politics? I don’t think so.

Elite well funded groups such as the university academic group who set up We the Citizens are part of the problem and are definitely not the solution. If they really wanted meaningful change they would have followed the citizens’ assembly model from British Columbia which put its proposals to a referendum and not to government. People who want change should support grassroots groups such as Occupy, Second Republic, Claiming our Future, etc. They are all pushing for meaningful change in different ways.

Manus

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