By Patrick Brogan
If there’s one institution in the country that needs divine intervention it’s this one. However, Dáil prayers do bring up serious issues regarding freedom of expression and the separation of church and state.
Given the amount of negative press towards the Catholic Church, it’s probably too easy to stick the boot in. It does have to be pointed out, though, in a functioning society, religious authorities have less power. When those lines become blurred, it usually ends up with a negative impact because the church doesn’t have to be held to account — unless it becomes a criminal matter and even then, in some incidents, this wasn’t the case. The State, on the other hand, is answerable to the people. We have seen this rear its head in the media again with the National Maternity Hospital. A national hospital should be one for all the people, not just the ones that agree with Catholic doctrine.
This should also be the case with the Dáil. If Mattie McGrath wants to express his religious views that’s fine, but to expect all of the elected representatives of the Irish people to do the same is unfair. This country has been beholden to religious forces for too long. A clear change of this status quo would be to stop Dáil prayers.
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