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The ‘New’ Ireland part 2

September 6, 2007

Directly opposite the text of the Archbishop’s sermon was the IT letters page. And here, standing in opposition to the sermon, something of the battle for the soul of Ireland was apparent.

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In recent days a debate has raged in Ireland over the denial of the right of Sikh recruits to the Gardai (police) to wear their turban as part of the uniform. Those against are citing the alleged mess made in the UK by the British policy of multi-culturism, and argue that the employees of the State should be free of any religious symbolism. The letters on the issue are interesting and prove that secularism hasn’t won yet!

Denis Carroll from Rathgar writes:

“I await Ash Wednesday with keen interest to see if any of the secular Garda force displays religious iconography while on duty”

In a similar vein Andrew McDermott writes:

“I agree (that) ‘no-one should be allowed to wear any overt symbols of religion while carrying out the work for the State’. In particular, I believe that the more high-ranking and prominent the individual, the more important this tenet becomes. So, for example, it should not be permissible for a Taoiseach to appear in the Dail (parliament) on Ash Wednesday with a substantial and impossibly persistent (in contrast with the rest of the Catholic flock) smudge of ashes on his/her forehead.”

Elsewhere on the letters page there is a slightly facetious letter from (the Rev) Roy H Byrne from Carlow is joins the debate on the correct nomenclature for members of religious orders in Ireland. Taking up Tom Coopers’ earlier complaint of IT news pieces referring to clergy by their surnames, (thus Archbishop Brady being named as ‘Brady’ in articles). Roy H Byrne notes that since 99% of his parishioners call him by his first name, he would believe that anyone giving him his proper title is extracting the michael, so to speak.

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