The Dáil prayer
A chara, – Contrary to Robert A. Sharpe’s assertion (April 9th), Ireland is not a Christian country. Countries do not have religious beliefs, unlike individuals, who can choose theirs. A notable exception, of course, is those totalitarian countries where individuals who choose “wrongly” are executed. Notwithstanding the preamble to the Constitution, which references “the Most Holy Trinity” and “our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ”, Ireland is a secular republic. I am aware that 84.2 per cent of the population described themselves as Catholic in the 2011 census but suspect that not all of them are practising. Most of our laws support our claim to be a secular republic, although again a notable exception is Section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act 2000, which allows State-funded schools to discriminate against children on the basis of religion.
Paul Murphy TD is quite right to describe the prayer in the Dáil as “anachronistic”, but unlike Mr Sharpe, who fears that this is an indication of the depths to which we have descended, I am convinced that it is an indication of how we aspire to greater inclusivity. The prayer has no place in the parliamentary proceedings of a secular republic. That other prominent bending of the knee to Rome, the broadcasting of the Angelus bells on state-funded media, is equally anachronistic. – Is mise,
Sir, – Robert A Sharpe is quite on point regarding prayer in the Dáil. Paul Murphy’s claim that this oration is anachronistic might be acceptable in Cuba, but it discounts truths applicable even in “modern” Ireland.
The preamble to the Constitution finds authority in “the Most Holy Trinity” and invokes Jesus Christ by name. Article 6 of the same text then acknowledges that all power derives “under God”.
Most fatal to Mr Murphy’s contention, however, is article 44, which clearly nods to “public worship . . . due to Almighty God”. Moreover, the Constitution next bids the State to hold God’s name “in reverence” and to “respect and honour religion”.
Despite Mr Murphy’s allergy, our institutions plainly presuppose the existence of a divine being, and prayer in the Dáil would appear to be consistent with this view. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Given the recent discussions regarding the daily Dáil prayer, together with the inability of our TDs to form a government, I suggest that the prayer be changed to something along the following lines, “God, may we all collectively grow up and get on with it, in the national interest.” – Yours, etc,