Buddhists sidelined at State events

 

Sir, – I was disappointed to see that the recent inauguration ceremony for President Michael D Higgins highlighted a narrow understanding of inclusion and diversity, as most State ceremonies do.

There were no less than six Christian officiants. There was also a representative of the Jewish and Islamic faiths. We, as Buddhists, approached the organisers well in advance of the event for inclusion – as there are approximately 10,000 Buddhists in Ireland. But despite our approaches, no Buddhist representative was invited to take part.

In fact, there are more Irish Buddhists than there are Irish Methodists, Quakers, Humanists or Jews – all of which were represented in the ceremony. The figures from the last census are clear in this regard.

There appears to be a state bias in favour of the Abrahamic faith traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), while the Dharmic faiths (Hinduism and Buddhism, for example) are constantly sidelined.

This is evident in hospital and university chaplaincy, in education, and in the provision of other State services. It is also evident each time the State holds an official celebration, like the recent inauguration.

Full inclusion and representation are overdue in Ireland for substantial religious minorities. Either that or, in my personal view, finally separate church and state, as the current means of representation is ham-fisted at best. – Yours, etc,

IAN KILROY

(Rev MYOZAN KODO

KILROY),

Irish Buddhist Union

President,

Dundrum, Dublin 14.