Northern Ireland

Calls to end daily prayer in the Irish parliament

There have been calls for an end to the daily Dail prayer, which has been said in the Irish parliament for almost 80 years.

A Labour TD and an independent senator said the prayer is neither appropriate nor respectful to those with other beliefs.

The prayer is said at the start of proceedings in both houses of the parliament, the Dail and the Seanad.

The issue will be discussed by a Seanad committee on Thursday afternoon.

The call to end the prayer has been made by Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain and Independent Senator Ivana Bacik.

In a joint statement, Deputy O Riordain and Senator Bacik said: "It is not appropriate for a Christian prayer to be used to commence each sitting of the Houses of the Oireachtas in a Republic.

'Disrepectful'

"The political system must take a lead when striving to create a Republic where all are equal, and all are seen to be equal.

"The continuing use of the Christian prayer in the formal business of the Oireachtas is disrespectful to those of other religions, and those who do not adhere to any particular religion."

The prayer calls on members to be inspired and assisted by God in their actions.

In the UK, a prayer is said in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, but there are no prayers in the Welsh Assembly or Scottish Parliament.

In Northern Ireland, two minutes are set aside for private prayer or meditation at the start of proceedings.

The link between the church and Irish state is under increasing strain following the publication of the Cloyne Report and the blistering attack on the Vatican by the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Wednesday.

He said the recent Cloyne Report into how allegations of sex abuse by priests in Cork had been covered up showed change was urgently needed.

Mr Kenny said the historic relationship between church and state in Ireland could not be the same again.

He said the report "exposed the elitism, dysfunction, disconnection, and narcissism" that dominated the Vatican.

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