DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS TO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CLOSES MONDAY, MARCH 20TH
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The Minister for Education, Richard Bruton T.D., had extended the deadline to March 20th for receipt of submissions to the consultation process which shall assess the role of religion in schools with a view to considering changes.
In January the Minister had invited submissions from key stakeholders, affected or interested parties as part of a broad consultation process. This was initially open for a four-week period, however, to allow for as many submissions as possible, the deadline was extended and will now close on Monday, March 20th.
Pagan Life Rites fully supports the following demand for the repeal of subsection 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act, 2010, which currently permits State schools to use baptism as a mechanism for preferential enrolment. This is a breach of human rights and contravenes Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, 2014, which compels all public bodies to implement Public Sector Duty, promote equality and eliminate discrimination.
This is your last chance to have a say in this consultation process. Please feel free to craft your own submission or copy and paste the template letter below and submit to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submission deadline extension: http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/School-Enrolment/Role-of-Religion-in-School-Admissions.html
Subject: Submission concerning the Baptism Barrier
Dear Minister Bruton,
Please accept my submission to the consultation on the Role of Religion in School Admissions.
I want all children to have equal access to their local publicly-funded schools and I want religion to have zero bearing in admission policy and practice. It is not acceptable in a modern, pluralist society that parents feel they have to baptise their child to ensure access to a publicly-funded school.
I believe that the only equality and children’s rights option is option 4(i). Repeal subsection 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act, 2010, in respect of publicly-funded schools.
This is possible by amending subsection 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act, 2010.
I strongly recommended that you, as Minister for Education and Skills, take this opportunity to remove all religious barriers from school admission policy and practice.
Consultation Paper specific issues:
A. The removal of the Baptism Barrier would be of benefit to families and children of the many minority religions, Irish indigenous traditions, and those of no religion, as it would increase their ability to gain entry to their local publicly-funded schools regardless of its denomination.
B. I have seen strong constitutional advice from leading constitutional experts that shows option 4(i) is possible.
C. I believe option 4(i) would be the simplest to implement.
D. Option 4(i) is the simplest approach that does not impact any of the issues outlined in the consultation.
Allowing schools to use baptism as a mechanism for preferential enrolment is a breach of the human rights of your service users. Your department is legally obliged to act in accordance with Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, 2014, which compels all public bodies to implement Public Sector Duty, promote equality and eliminate discrimination.
Pagan Life Rites and HSE Work Together to Introduce Change
Acting on reports from our community members, Pagan Life Rites has successfully negotiated an agreement with the Health Services Executive, resulting in a HSE directive now issued to all CEOs of our fifty national acute hospitals requesting the PAS systems to include Pagan categories of religious identity.
Not Long ago some community members had relayed to Pagan Life Rites their various experiences in Irish hospitals. Issues arose upon registration as patients at the hospitals when people were asked, as a matter of standard procedure, which faith community they belong to. In most hospitals there was no option for “Pagan” on the PAS (Patient Administration System) database and so patients were either entered as “Other” or opted for this in lieu of poor choice. At other times hospital staff had referred to “Pagan” as being “No religion” and were registered as such despite protest by patients. Even when registered as “Pagan” on arrival staff had twice changed the religious identity to “Christian/Catholic” on the physical version of one patient’s medical records.
Pagan Life Rites has since taken on the task of remedying these issues for our community. We have engaged with senior management of the Health Services Executive (HSE) and raised all of the above issues as a matter of concern given that they conflict with the ethos and guidelines of the HSE’s 2009 Intercultural Guide. Following consultation, we have successfully negotiated an agreement with the HSE that frontline hospital staff operating and maintaining the PAS registration database shall be issued with supplementary material explaining what Paganism is. At the heart of this agreement is the HSE directive now issued to all CEOs of our fifty national acute hospitals requesting the PAS systems to uniformly include the following categories of religious identity for patients to choose from. Collectively these options are reflective of Ireland’s Pagan community. Any person not falling within either of the last four subcategories below may simply opt for the main category, “Pagan.”
• Pagan – (if patient does not fall within categories below or is not specific)
• Pagan – Wicca
• Pagan – Shamanism
• Pagan – Heathenry
• Pagan – Druidry
Some hospitals have already commenced the implementation process which should be completely rolled out over the coming weeks. Be mindful that one hospital group within the broader network has currently included the main category only (“Pagan”). Should you encounter future difficulty with registration please assert to staff that their hospital CEO has been issued with a directive from the HSE for inclusion of the above categories.
Furthermore, the HSE has kindly provided the hospital network with the contact details of the clergy of Pagan Life Rites who offer chaplaincy support to patients and loved ones of the deceased. We are very grateful for the kindness and support of the Health Services Executive.
Please note that the Dublin PLR Bealtaine ritual will be meeting at
Deer Park Golf Club, Howth, Co. Dublin – Saturday 30th April, 2.45 PM
There is also a meeting point at Howth Dart Station, where people on public transport can be collected. Due to Dart works, the Dart will not be running, however you can get the 31/a bus from Talbot Street. This is a Bealtaine Celebration for PLR members – we celebrate outdoors and welcome the heat and power of the Summer Sun! We know, we’re in Ireland – but we still honour the rising sap, the ripening earth, the blooming flower..We experience and savour our own fertility, creativity and passion!
See our event page on Facebook.
A Census will be held on 24th April, 2016. We, at PLR, ask you to consider answering “PAGAN” to the question on religion.
We believe that the 2011 census may not have truly reflected the actual number of Pagans in Ireland. This is because people either put down the praxis with which they self-identify or marked “No Religion” in the Religion section. As a result, the Central Statistics Office split the “Other” category into very small numbers recording Druid, Shaman, Pantheist, Polytheist, Pagan, Wiccan, Witch, etc. separately and these figures are often omitted from published reports. This makes it difficult, in terms of representations to the State, regarding our beliefs in the areas of health and education.
There are many people who do not identify with any particular tradition or path but are still seeking or curious. There are also many people who follow an earth-based or magical practice, but do not normally define themselves as “Pagan.” These people may, however, have ticked “No Religion.” Other countries have encouraged a policy of putting “Pagan –“ and then adding your path or tradition, such as Pagan-Druid or Pagan-Witch. However, this might well prove to be counter-productive as each will be separated into different categories on the census results and we will be in the same position as we were before, with smaller categories not getting listed in published State figures.
In order to get an accurate measure of how many Pagans there actually are in Ireland, we encourage people to simply enter “PAGAN” into the “Other” field in the Census question regarding religion. In this way, we hope that, by the time the next census rolls around in 2021, “Pagan” will be an accepted category under “Religion” and just a box to tick. This will also mean that when it comes to health, work and education matters, having a recognised standing will make life easier for everyone fighting the red tape of Government.
March 15th sees the introduction of a new Board for Pagan Life Rites. As per our Constitution, the Board is rotated annually and made up of four elected Regional Officers. We thank our previous Board Members, Ailish Farragher, Barbara Lee, Kristian Märkus and Gavin Morrison for their year of service and dedication and welcome our new Board, Francis Devenney, Lora O’Brien, Fionnuala O’Regan and Vinnie Woods. As with our remaining Clergy Members, the outgoing Board Members continue to serve as Regional Officers.
Pagan Life Rites (Ireland) is delighted to announce that, on the 5th of February, twelve of its Priestesses and Priests were registered by the Office of the General Register (GRO) as legal solemnisers of marriage.
The Priestesses and Priests of Pagan Life Rites have many years of experience and are held in high regard within their respective spiritual traditions on the paths of Druidry, Witchcraft, Wicca, and Shamanism.
As an organisation representing the interests of Pagan traditions in Ireland, Pagan Life Rites has the largest general membership and the largest number of Pagan clergy appointed by the Department of Social Protection as legal solemnisers of marriage.
Pagan Life Rites serves the Pagan community of the island of Ireland by providing trained clergy for the administering of traditional religious rites pertaining to birth, marriage, death and other rites of passage.
Handfasting is the term for the traditional religious wedding rite. Handfasting is a continuation of Ireland’s indigenous practice which was recognised in Brehon law.
Through our Old Ways and Other Ways, Pagan Life Rites offers legal Handfasting to the many couples seeking a wedding ceremony with a spiritual element that is more aligned to an Earth based belief system.
Pagan Life Rites offers legal Handfastings to opposite-sex and same-sex couples of adult age, including persons who identify as transgender, intersex, and gender-fluid. There is absolutely no objection to LGBT people or marriage equality from Pagan clergy, some of whom also freely identify as LGBT.
Our clergy are socially integrated into their communities around the country and quietly minister to those in need of pastoral support and those who seek ceremonies to mark their rites of passage in life. Pagan Life Rites also offers chaplaincy support to persons in hospitals and prisons.
Pagan Life Rites hosts open monthly Moot gatherings, seasonal rituals, workshops and lectures around the country. Our community is served by our registered clergy in their respective regions of abode: the Greater Dublin Area, the South-East, the South-West, the West, and the North.
Pagan Life Rites welcomes the decision of the Department of Social Protection and is grateful to those public servants who upheld the State’s commitment to fairness, diversity and pluralism.