In the past two years, violent thugs have twice attacked the Maryam mosque of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Galway, Ireland. During the first attack, they smashed windows while the community was at prayer. During the second attack, they vandalised furniture and books, and threw an Irish tricolour and family photographs out of the window. Local Muslim families are now frightened about their future safety.
Soheil Arabi is a 33-year-old Iranian blogger with a young daughter. He has been jailed and tortured since his arrest in 2013 for criticising Islam on Facebook. He was originally sentenced to death, which was revised on appeal to seven and a half years in prison plus thirty lashes if he studied Islam. Last year he had another three years added to his sentence.
I gave this talk this weekend at the Rationalist International Conference in Cambridge, UK
On a recent Saturday afternoon in Dublin, Atheist Ireland held our usual monthly information table, where we promote atheism and reason as more reliable world views than faith and dogma.
We discussed the improbability of gods with atheists, doubters, and religious evangelists. And we discussed the importance of separation of Church and State, both to protect the right to freedom of belief, and to minimise the harm that religion can cause, particularly in our State-funded schools.
The minimalist change to the religion question in the 2021 Irish census will mask, but not stop, the relentless increase in the number of nonreligious people in Ireland.
Some change to the religion question was inevitable, as the results were increasingly not reflecting reality, but this is the smallest improvement to the question that could have been made.
Grania Spingies died on Sunday 16 June 2019, a week before her 49th birthday. She was a founding member and first secretary of Atheist Ireland, and a contributor to Jerry Coyne’s website Why Evolution is True. Her family and friends gathered to remember her in Glanmire, Cork, on Thursday 27 June.
We at Atheist Ireland were shocked to hear of the untimely death of our friend Grania
She died suddenly in Cork while visiting the doctor to discuss a stomach ailment, and we will not know what caused her death until we get the results of an autopsy. I would like to thank her friend Kathryn Moffat for letting us know the sad news.
The Dublin European Election count was adjourned last night after a dispute about how the third and fourth seats should be filled.
I’ve checked to see what the election law says about this, and it seems that an additional set of transfers, beyond the normal range of transfers, is needed.
This Friday, 24th May, we will elect Local Councillors, who will also be members of Education and Training Boards and the Boards of Management of ETB Schools.
Three weeks ago, Atheist Ireland wrote to all political parties, asking them to support the right of students to attend ETB schools without attending religion classes, and for students who do not attend religion classes to be given an alternative timetabled subject.
Atheist Ireland has obtained under the Freedom of Information Act an email and letter from last September, from Donegal Education and Training Board, in the Minister for Education’s constituency.
In that internal exchange, the ETB’s Director of Schools advised Moville Community College to “write to the parents of the opt out students and get them back into the Religion class.” This was despite the fact that Donegal ETB had already officially recognised, in a press release last April, that ETB schools must respect the right to opt out of those religion classes.
Atheist Ireland is today holding a protest outside the Teachers Union of Ireland National Congress in the INEC Centre in Killarney, Kerry, to coincide with the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, addressing the conference.
We are highlighting two things:
- The Teachers Union of Ireland refused to implement a lawful directive from the Department, that gave students opting out of religion class in ETB schools the right to an alternative timetabled subject. Instead of protecting the rights of minorities, the TUI successfully lobbied along with the Catholic Church and the ETBs to have the directive reversed.
- Now ETB schools are using the reversal of the directive to unlawfully coerce students into not even being able to opt out of religion class at all. We have obtained under the FOI Act an internal email in which Donegal ETB, in the Minister for Education’s own constituency, tells a school to write to parents of opted out students and “get them back into the Religion class.”