keep ireland’s church doors open
let us worship
Dear Mr. Martin,
We call on you, as Taoiseach, to:
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Our Letter to An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD.
An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD.
Dear Micheál Martin,
This year has been immensely difficult. As during so many trying times in Irish history, many rely on the hope of our faith. However, the possibility of living out our religious convictions through communal church worship was completely and disproportionately denied for most of the past 12 months. Your government passed a law that made attending Church in Ireland a criminal offence, with a potential sentence of imprisonment, simply for worshipping God.
Your government has insisted that a blanket ban on public worship is necessary. Of course, we as people of faith recognise the importance of protecting the vulnerable from sickness. However, churches were treated unfairly in this decision in comparison to commercial shops. Dry-cleaners, bicycle shops and supermarkets have all been allowed to open with safety measures in place. Furthermore, all other western European countries permitted public religious worship to resume, long before the Irish government considered it. In Scotland, the same blanket ban was struck down by the court as unlawful.
Religious freedom is one of our most precious and fundamental human rights. The Irish public have had a long history of respect for religious freedom as embedded in the text of the Constitution and the 1916 Proclamation. As you know, Article 44 of the Constitution of Ireland clearly underlines the importance of freedom of worship in law:
“The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion.”
Yet, the Irish government has not respected the exercise of religious freedom as an essential and fundamental right for almost a year. We are relieved that the government has finally agreed to lift its draconian ban on public worship, and that church services, including the Catholic mass, may resume at a limited capacity from May 10.
And yet, the disproportionate and unnecessary ban was never appropriately addressed by the government. Should another lockdown take place in future, the unfair ban could be reinstated at any moment.
With this in mind, Mr. Martin, we, the undersigned, call on you to make the following commitments:
- Affirm respect for the fundamental right to freedom of religion, which is enshrined in Article 44 of the Constitution and protected in international human rights law;
- Recognise that churches are an essential part of society;
- Commit that your government will never again impose another blanket ban on public worship.
We await your response, for the sake of securing fundamental human rights in Ireland.