Editorial – LookLeft Vol.2 No.16

“How odd for God, that Pape and Prod must worship each alone.

Live in despair and die in hope in your Falls and Shankill slum.”

– Dominic Behan

Ireland continues to suffer from the failure to separate church and state, to break the connection between religion and politics. Religion continues to divide our people, and is still used as an excuse to exercise control over the rights of others. The battle for secularism is still to be won.

While the right to freedom of religious belief is a core progressive value, a society, and those seeking to serve that society, cannot allow political values and laws to be dictated by any religion.

The public debate concerning abortion in the Republic has made clear that for many the rulings of the Catholic Church still carry more weight than the right to appropriate health care for all women.

The Murphy Report on clerical sex abuse in Dublin uncovered collusion between the supposed servants of the State and clergy in the systematic destruction of children’s lives. That the recently published report into the Magdalene Laundries did not uncover such systemic abuse, says more about the continued influence of the Catholic Church in southern politics than the suffering of the working class women forced into these institutions.

Sectarianism continues to dominate society in Northern Ireland: politics, education, housing, social life continue to be overwhelmingly dictated by religious division.

Progressive voices must be clear that they stand by rational thought and against those who use metaphysics to sustain and legitimise reactionary laws, conservative policies, and oppressive attitudes. Such irrationality permeates Irish society, from the southern establishment’s belief in the economic “confidence fairy” to DUP Minister Nelson McCausland’s public approval of creationism, to those who commit sectarian violence.

The secularisation of the education, health and political systems must be a priority for all progressives, north and south.

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