Seanad debates

Monday, 26 April 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Fintan WarfieldFintan Warfield (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the gradual reopening. We need to include all industries in the plans that are due to be announced. We cannot ignore some industries, such as that relating to night-life, or exclude them from the plan. Thousands of workers and their families are relying on the plans for reopening. They deserve to get a sense from the Government of what is going to happen.

There is much to unpack in the news that the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference has developed what it refers to as a voluntary resource for primary schools. I do not profess to have all of the answers but this is not one of them. Ninety per cent of all national schools in this country are Catholic. According to The Irish Times, an introduction to the programme states that:

... when discussing LGBT issues the "Church's teaching in relation to marriage between a man and a woman cannot be omitted."

The programme for senior classes states that "puberty is a gift from God. We are perfectly designed by God to procreate with him"; while a lesson on safety and protection advises senior infant children to say the "Angel of God" prayer.

I prayed for years that I would not be gay. I did so because of shame, much of which I can place the blame for at the door of the Church. Prayer and religious ideology do nothing to protect children or young people. Prayer and ideology do nothing to protect kids against sexually transmitted infections or HIV. I raised this issue with the Minister for Education, Deputy Foley, when she was here for a debate on the leaving certificate. We need a debate on sex education. We need politicians in both Chambers to stand up and be allies on this issue. I know that by making this statement alone, there will be abuse and I will be called a degenerate online. We need allies to stand up with LGBT people.


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