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Much More to do regarding separation of Church and State – Gavan

23 August, 2018 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on the Government to “do much more” to advance the separation of Church and State in Irish Society.

Speaking ahead of this week’s visit by Pope Francis to Ireland, Senator Gavan, Sinn Féin Seanad spokesperson on Education said:

“While I am sure Pope Francis will receive a warm welcome this weekend, and I wish him well on his visit to Ireland, Irish society will not forget what it was like to live under the oppression of the Catholic Church. Today, many Irish people are still waiting for adequate answers and closure in relation to issues such as child clerical sex abuse and the systematic institutional abuse of women.  The Irish State and many victims of abuse are still waiting to receive their reparations from the church. 

“There is also the broader political issue of separation of Church and State. On this topic, our government which still has much more to do.

“The Ireland of today is a much more diverse society, with people of many different religions and no religion. Yet, this is not reflected in the make up of our schools, with around 95% of national schools still under the direction of the Catholic Church. This means that Catholic religious instruction and ethos remains at the centre of the school day even though a growing number of parents have no desire for this to be the case. What is the government’s vision for a secular education system? How long will it take to divest school patronage from the church? We need to develop a plan for our education system.

“We also have major parts of our hospital system still under the control of the Catholic Church. This is not what a true Republic should look like.

“In the wake of the emphatic decision of the Irish people to endorse same-sex marriage and to remove the 8th Amendment, it is surely time for society to have the wider conversation around these related issues. It is therefore not appropriate that any religion would hold such a prominent place in the provision of our state funded education or health system. As a Republican party, Sinn Féin believes that the separation of Church and State is an essential step in the building of a new All-Ireland Republic.” 

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