Letter to the Editor - The effect of the referendum on Irish education.
I am following from the US with interest and some dismay the debate or sometimes it seems the lack it over the forthcoming so called 'Marriage Equality' referendum in Ireland.
It is distressing to see practically all of 'Official Ireland', all political parties, the IDA and even the Garda all support a change in the constitution which is so drastic.
The worst effect I can see is in the education system. Ireland is quite unique in the Western world in that so many of its elementary and secondary schools are run by the Church or where the Patron is the Bishop.
Only 2% (74) of the 3,200 the primary schools in Ireland are not run by Catholic or Protestant Church bodies.
The problem thus is with the curriculum. A changed constitution would mean a changed curriculum, unless Churches and schools run by them were able to opt out of teaching curricula which would promote and 'celebrate' gay marriage as normal and equal to traditional marriage.
This could be a real place of conflict which could end up in the courts and where practicing Catholic and Christian teachers and Boards of Management would be challenged to give a different teaching on sexuality than that which would then be on the statute books.
As with Marriage Counselling and Adoption Agencies, the school system, which is much more significant for the majority of Irish citizens, would be in a defensive position dealing with the new political correctness of 'gay marriage'.
I do not think the Irish population who seem to be on the side of the 'Yes' campaign promoted by all the Dail Parties may realise just how serious the change in the Constitution would be for the children of Ireland in the future.
What baffles me is the lack of any critical thinking about this issue in the Dail and the absurd notion given by the IDA that this would be a good move for the Irish economy. We are rowing our once sturdy family based society to the edge of a waterfall without thinking about it.
Such drastic changes should be prefaced by a long period of free critical debate at all levels before arranging a Referendum in the Constitution. I am living abroad, but if I were at home I would certainly be anxious to give a 'No' to the proposed Constitutional change.
Dr. Cormac O'Duffy,
(formerly of Lacken, New Ross),