Amen Or Omen?

Anthony McIntyre writes about the proposed commissary daily prayer for Dail Eireann.

Joan Collins, TD, finds "it incredible that we are debating this issue. This is the twenty-first century. We need to move on." Any suggestion for a compulsory daily prayer in the Dail should be laughed out of the chamber. Ireland aspires to be a democracy not a theocracy, yet people could be forgiven for feeling confused.

The recommendation by the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privileges, to keep the prayer is risible. The latest proposals, to be debated tomorrow, would require TDs to stand for the following prayer:

Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended; through Christ Our Lord. Amen

Perhaps they should end with Omen rather than Amen, if it is a sign of what is to come in the Dail. Joan Collins called it right with her comment that "I have not been sent here by the votes of the people in Dublin South Central to have my words and actions directed by Jesus Christ."

Prayers should have no more place in a supposedly modern parliament than a rain dance, even though one works no better than the other. Hopefully, the republican value of secularism will come to prevail and the proposal shall be rejected.

Ruth Coppinger drew attention to the coercive aspect of the proposal:

There will be potential disciplinary action if a Deputy does not comply. At a time when the rest of society is demanding an absolute separation of Church and State, the Dáil decides to embed an archaic practice by proposing this.

It is ludicrous to compel TDs to stand for a prayer any more than they should have to stand for a reading from Richard Dawkins. As an act of secular dissent TDs should simply sit down, tweet, scratch their pits or whatever. The two TDs who insist they will not stand for it deserve support.

Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh who argued that the prayer was a "legacy from the British parliament" was spot on in his argument for 60 seconds of silent reflection as an alternative to prayers so members could reflect in their own personal way. If they want to think about Heaven, Hell, soccer or a brothel, it's up to them.

I am not insulting those of a Christian faith or those who believe in God or a god. What I am trying to say is that this is supposed to be a republic. A republic is supposed to equally honour or respect all of those people. It is also supposed to separate church and State, but that is not what is happening in this proposal. This proposal is more insulting than it was before because Members are now expected to stand to attention to listen to a prayer and then reflect for a moment.

Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter was of the Jewish Faith. Were he still a TD he would be compelled to observe a Christian prayer by standing rather than ignoring it through remaining seated, There are currently members of the Dail who while not Jewish are certainly not of the Christian faith

Fianna Fail's Anne Rabbitte thinks a moments reflection after the prayer solves everything when it fact it solves nothing. It still leaves us with a situation where TDs will have religion practiced on them in the Dail. As Wafa Sultan once suggested they can worship stones if the like but don’t throw them at the rest of us. 

A minute’s reflection on its own sans any prayer would be much more inclusive and imposes nothing on anybody. If Mattie McGrath wants to pray he can do so in private.

If all else fails, they can always sacrifice a goat.


  1. We are supposed to be somewhat beyond the enlightenment at this stage...why the f*ck are we even having to debate this? Church and State should always be separated. Try living in a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia for the alternative.

    Those in favour of a United Ireland should take heed, this type of thing scares the sh*te out of the Unionist community in the north.

    The only sensible recourse is the minute of silent reflection.

  2. How many fuck'n goats do you have? LOL
    Enjoyed that, bloody ridiculous proposal. There seems to be some sort of 'revivalist' push back to the good auld days in the South, what with the Good Sisters decision and now this. Is the Church trying to re-assert itself for if it is it has badly miss-judged the change in social demographics and social attitudes.

  3. You could not really make this stuff up. It really is a throwback to Ireland's darkest past.

  4. Steve,

    it should not just scare the shit out of the unionists but also the republicans. I remember at a very early age being told the 5 isms of republicanism, one of which was secularism. Even though I had only the vaguest notion of what it meant. Nevertheless, republican funerals remained characterised by religious observation. They even used to say decades of the Rosary at Easter commemorations.

    But equally so, that cretinous DUP crowd who tell us the world is 6,000 years old should worry us every bit as much as Catholic Crazies.

    Niall, at least we could cook the goat and eat it after it doesn't work the miracle for us by getting the Big Fella to contravene the laws of the universe. Not many hungry bellies to be filled by a plateful of prayer.

    They are messing about in the schools too but I think it shows how absurd they are rather than reviving. Varadkar last night called for the National Maternity Hospital to be taken away from those nun creatures. The next big step forward down here is repealing the eighth. So all the rain dances they do in the Dail or muttering mumbo jumbo in the churches, will not impact on the decline of official Catholic superstition.

  5. Steve R
    I have to disagree with you on this one. The Caleb Foundation who control the DUP are much scarier than the Catholic Church. They would wholly approve of prayers in parliament.

  6. AM,
    Varadkar - now there's a person who needs to be careful with regards to the church. I think yourself and Peter hit the nail on the head. I've had a few run ins with that Caleb Society....very dangerous bunch of extremists. These are the maniacs who are pushing for Creationism to be taught in schools and who 'forced' the National Trust to have a religious theme present as an explanation for the origins of the Giant's Causeway. I personally thought Finn MacCool was more believable!!!

  7. They say a wee prayer each day that their expenses aren't scrutinised.

  8. AM/Peter,

    I totally agree with both of you, but I just harbour the belief that the Dodgy Unionist Party are only voted for by the Unionist population due to a lack of a serious, coherent alternative.

    The point I was trying to make is that such an obvious 'Catholic' prayer in the Dail hands fodder to bigots to stir up sectarian fear of a UI.

    The Caleb Foundation in all their repulsive idiocy are sure to jump on this for that exact reason.

    The minutes silent reflection should head them all off at the pass however, but it does not mean it's a 'prayer'.