Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Education (Health, Relationships and Sex Education) Bill 2021: Second Stage [Private Members]
Danny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
I am grateful to Deputy Gannon and the Social Democrats for giving us the opportunity to discuss this. Obviously, I do not agree with many parts of what the Deputy has said. He said that modern Ireland needs to stop using religion as a method to deliver relationship and sex education. The country, the parents and the children have been managing for decades and for generations without any direction that says religion should not be involved. I am proud to be a Catholic and will openly admit to it but I also respect every other religion, be it Muslim, Protestant or whatever, as well as those who have no religion. I respect each and every one of them.
The delivery of sex education, however, in the first instance must be given by parents. Parents have been doing this for generations and they are doing it today as well as ever. I realise that children are developing at a younger age. I am aware that parents know this also. Young people have their phones and access to computers and maybe they get a lot of bad direction from some of those sources. A parent knows when a child is developing and at what stage the child needs the education. I believe the parents are the first source. In the formative years, it is very important that parents recognise the need. They do that and they have been doing that. I do not believe that we need one line inside the schools telling children that they should not be of any religion, and maybe directing them in a certain way. That would be wrong.
I cannot support this Bill. Parents are the best people to know when children are developing at a certain age and be with them in their formative years. They are the best ones to know. We must recognise our religion, or whatever religion it is, and we must respect other people who have other views.