Why we should hold on to religious oaths

 

Sir – It is deeply regrettable that the Government has decided to remove the requirement for witnesses to swear before God or make an affirmation when filing affidavits for court (“Embarrassing’ system of oaths and affirmations to be abolished”. News, July 22nd).

The system of religious oaths currently in place in this jurisdiction brings an important sense of seriousness to the process of filing affidavits and exerts a significant force on the consciences of witnesses. This is why religious oaths have been a central part of the legal system for centuries.

I would also note that for those who have no religious belief or who have a religious belief that does not permit them to take a religious oath, the current system provides an option to affirm. This means nobody is required to take a religious oath who does not wish to.

The system for filing affidavits that is proposed by this Bill is not truly pluralist. It imposes secularism on the vast majority of Irish people who believe in God by forcing all witnesses to make a “statement of truth” that makes no mention of God or religion. It also represents an effort to banish religious belief from the Irish legal system. One finds it very difficult to reconcile this proposal by the Government its duty under article 44 of the Constitution to hold the name of God in reverence and “respect and honour religion”. – Yours, etc,

SIMEON BURKE,

Castlebar,

Co Mayo.