Seanad debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Further and Higher Education

9:30 am

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of his State for his reply. As I would not have him down as one of the most woke members of the Government, I regret that he has been shackled with the job of responding to this matter. I would like to face the Minister, Deputy Harris, directly on this point and I would like him to face me. What we have here is an explanation that it is all right, the law is fine and the Athena charter comes in under the law. That is not the way it is working out in practice in terms of what the universities are requiring. How can there be academic freedom when universities are telling their staff that they are breaking the law if they state what they believe to be true?

It is an irony in our society at the moment that the Government, which is constantly talking about the dangers of misinformation and disinformation, is one of the greatest proponents of the post-truth society when it comes to fostering collective understanding around what are, in effect, gender fantasies. Requiring academics to use language that they may not believe to be true is an unacceptable situation. We have highlighted the problem but the Government has not answered it effectively here today. Athena SWAN has to be revised or it has to go.


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