The Abolition of Freedom of Expression, Including Speech

The Abolition of Freedom of Expression, Including Speech

On the 28th of October 2022, the Government released a new bill titled the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 (hereinafter referred to as the “Bill”).

In relation to this new proposed law, the Gov.ie website states the following:

  • The Bill is designed to update laws criminalising hate speech and legislate against hate crimes for the first time in Irish law;
  • The Bill includes provision to strengthen protections for genuine freedom of expression;
  • The Bill includes a new list of identity characteristics protected under the law;
  • The Bill is expected to become law before the end of the year;
  • The Bill is intended to criminalise any intentional or reckless communication or behaviour that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or persons because they are associated with a protected characteristic. The penalty for this offence will be up to five years’ imprisonment;
  • The Bill will also create new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, like assault, coercion, harassment etc, where it is found that those offences are motivated by hatred of a protected characteristic (such as race, colour, etc). These offences will carry an enhanced penalty and the criminal record will state that the offence was a hate crime;
  • The Bill includes a demonstration test for hate crimes to make it easier to secure prosecutions and convictions for crimes motivated by hate;
  • The protected characteristics in the new Bill are race; colour; nationality; religion; national or ethnic origin; descent; gender; sex characteristics; sexual orientation; and disability;
  • Gender, disability, descent and sex characteristics were not included in the 1989 Act, and descent and sex characteristics have been added in recent months following additional consultation with key stakeholders;
  • The Bill has been created to ensure that it captures hate speech in an online context, particularly in a social media environment; and
  • Finally, a quote from Helen McEntee in relation to the introduction of this new Bill “There are protections for freedom of expression built into this legislation. But ultimately, hate speech is not about free speech. Hate speech is designed to shut people down, to shut them up, to make them afraid to say who they are and to exclude and isolate them. There is nothing free about that, and there is, frankly, no place for it in our society.”

Review of the Bill

The Bill is split into 4 parts as follows:

Part 1: deals with issues such as definitions and the meaning of protected characteristics.

Part 2: is the section that provides for a new offence of incitement to violence or hatred which will replace the current law which is the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989.

Part 3: creates new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, where those offences are motivated by prejudice against a protected characteristic.

Part 4: deals with amendments to other pieces of existing legislation which will be required as a result of the passing of this Bill.

Part 1 of the Bill: Preliminary and General

Part 1 Section 2 – is titled “Interpretation”. This section states that hatred means “hatred against a person or a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their protected characteristics or any one of those characteristics” – so although this section purports to define hatred, it does not actually define what hatred is intended to mean. One interesting point to note is that the pre-bill called the General Scheme – Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 did define hatred as meaning “detestation, significant ill will or hostility..”.

Part 1 Section 3 – lists out all of the characteristics that will be protected under this Bill and includes race, colour, nationality, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation and disability. The majority of these characteristics are already protected under other pieces of legislation such as the Equal Status Acts and Employment Equality Acts, however, this Bill introduces some new categories such as:

  • Descent”, which includes “references to persons who descend from persons who could be identified by certain characteristics (such as race or colour), but not necessarily all of those characteristics still exist” –we have labelled this ancestral privilege;
  • Gender” now means “the gender of a person or the gender which a person expresses as the person’s preferred gender or with which the person identifies and includes transgender and a gender other than those of male and female”;
  • “Sex characteristics”, which means “references to the physical and biological features of a person relating to sex”.

Part 2: Prohibition of Incitement to Violence or Hatred

Part 2 section 7(1) – creates a new offence of incitement to violence or hatred based on a person communicating material to the public or a section of the public or behaving in a public place in a manner that is likely to incite violence or hatred against a person or group of persons based on their protected characteristics.

Questions:

Three questions arise are

  • what is material;
  • what is a public place; and
  • what is behaviour.

Part 2 section 6 – confirms that:

  • material is anything that is capable of being looked at, read, watched or listened to;
  • public place means any place to which the public has access; and
  • behaviour include behaviour of any kind including things a person says, or otherwise communicates, as well as things a person does and such behaviour may consist of a single act or multiple acts.

To be guilty of an offence under Part 2 Section 7(1), a person only has to display, publish or make available any material (this could be verbal, in writing or even gestures) in a place where the public has access (even if the public is not accessing the place at the time) and one single act is enough to breach this new Bill. Also, the threshold for this offence is intent or recklessness, which means that a person can be prosecuted if they intended to incite violence or hatred, or they are reckless as to whether violence or hatred might be incited.

Part 2 section 7(3) – states that it will be a defence to this new crime of hate speech if the defendant can prove that the material consisted solely of a reasonable and genuine contribution to literary, artistic, political, scientific, religious, or academic discourse.

Notes in relation to this Defence

  1. The burden of proof is on the defendant to prove that the alleged hate speech is not hate speech.
  2. This Section 7(3) states that this defence is only available where the material consisted solely of a reasonable and genuine contribution …. In this regard, we expect that those prosecuting these types of offences will try to argue that while some of a persons speech might be considered a reasonable and genuine contribution, some other parts of the speech is simply inflammatory and therefore the person cannot rely on this defence of reasonable and genuine contribution, due to the inclusion of the word solely in this section.
  3. Reasonable and genuine contribution”, in relation to literary, artistic, political, scientific, religious or academic discourse, means a contribution that is considered by a reasonable person as being reasonably necessary or incidental to such discourse.
  4. The courts will be employing the reasonable man test to determine what speech will be allowed. In this regard, I would suggest you ask yourself how comfortable you are with the average person dictating what speech you can use, and think about how the reasonable man or average person would have treated you over the past three years during Covid-19.

Hate Speech Penalties

The sentence for hate speech under this Part 2 on summary conviction is a Class A fine, which means a fine of up to €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or on conviction on indictment, to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both.

Part 2 Section 8 – introduces a completely new offence of condonation, denial or gross trivialisation of genocide, a crime against humanity, a war crime etc against persons on account of their protected characteristics.

Part 2 Section 9 – states that a person may be found guilty of an offence under Sections 7 or 8 regardless of whether they were actually successful in inciting another person to violence or hatred.

Part 2 section 10 – creates a new offence of preparing or possessing material that is likely to incite violence or hatred. This section of the Bill is seeking to criminalise people who create content that would incite violence with the intention of communicating it, but have not yet communicated it publicly.

Part 2 Section 10(3) – states that where it is reasonable to assume that the material was not intended for the personal use of the person, the person shall be presumed, until they prove otherwise, to have committed an offence.

The penalties under this section are on summary conviction to a Class C fine, which means up to €2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both, or on conviction on indictment to a Class A fine, so again this means a fine of up to €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or both. It should be noted that these are the penalties that apply to a person who is found guilty of preparing or possessing material that might incite violence or hatred, but that has not been communicated to anyone as yet.

Protection of Freedom of Expression

This next section is truly insincere and deceitful. Part 2 Section 11 is titled “Protection of freedom of expression”. This section states that any material or behaviour is not taken to incite violence or hatred against a person or a group of persons on account of their protected characteristics or any of those characteristics solely on the basis that that material or behaviour includes or involves discussion or criticism of matters relating to a protected characteristic

Under this Section 11, discussion or criticism is said to be allowed. Discussion meaning the action or process of talking about something in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas and criticism meaning the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.

There was no similar protection offered in the pre bill for protection of freedom of expression. As I said the inclusion of this Section 11 is truly deceitful, because one could be forgiven for assuming that the remainder of the Bill is somewhat nullified, as most content can be described as discussion or criticism.

That said, I believe this Section 11 was included in the Bill to ensure the Bill is passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, but be under no doubt that the Gardai will entirely and wholeheartedly disregard this Section 11 when they are contemplating prosecutions. We make this assessment partially because the Gardai have gone so far as to task themselves with investigating and recording non hate crime incidents.

According to An Garda Siochana website a hate crime is “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.”, whereas, a hate incident, means any incident which is not a crime, but which “is perceived by any person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.”

Part 2 Section 15 – deals with search warrants and confirms that a District Court judge can issue a search warrant of any place where evidence of hate speech may be located, this section confirms that the Gardai may search any place noted in the warrant and any person located at that place, this section also confirms that the Gardai may use reasonable force to enter your property and they may examine, seize and retain anything found at that place including documents, phones, computers.

Part 3: Offences Aggravated by Hatred

Part 3 Sections 17-20 – create new aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences where those offences are said to be motivated by prejudice against a protected characteristic. Sections 17-20 include for updated offences like damaging property aggravated by hatred; threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in public place aggravated by hatred; distribution or display in a public place material which is threatening, abusive, insulting or obscene aggravated by hatred; entering a building, etc., with intent to commit an offence aggravated by hatred. There are approximately another 10 existing offences that have also been updated this way.

The updating of these existing criminal offences in essence creates new categories of crime, called hate crime. The net effect of hate crime is to create a hierarchy of justice, whereby a person who belongs to more minority groups will receive more justice. A simple example would be if a white person and a black person were both subjected to a physical assault, the perpetrator could receive a harsher sentence for their assault on the black person by virtue of the protected characteristic of their skin colour.

Part 4: Amendments of other Enactments

Part 4 – amends other pieces of existing legislation which would need to be updated by virtue of the passing of this Bill.

What Actions Can You Take

  1. Write to your TD’s and Senators

– Please find a template letter at the end of this page that you may use and adapt as you see fit. You will also find a second document setting out the contact details for all TD’s and Senators. Please do not wait to send this letter. Please do it today if you can.

  1. Protest

– We would encourage members of the public to organise protests throughout the country – the Irish Council for Human Rights will be happy to support and advertise any such protest. In this regard, please contact us at [email protected]

 

Template Letter to TD’s and Senators

Contact Information for TD’s

A Review of Relationship and Sexuality Education in Ireland

*THE RELEVANT DOCUMENTS CAN BE FOUND AT THE END OF THIS CAMPAIGN.*

  1. What is Driving the RSE Agenda

Marxism and a desire to turn children into social justice revolutionaries to bring about Utopia

    • 174 years ago, Karl Marx drafted an infamous document called the Communist Manifesto which was an attempt to solve the problem of oppression in society
    • Marx developed a theory that divided society into classes with those who owned property being the oppressors and those without property being the oppressed – this is called classical Marxism
    • As far as Marx was concerned, wealth was accumulated through the exploitation of the working class and his theory therefore sought to dismantle the class structure through the abolition of property
  • Marx believed that if a benevolent dictating authority forcefully took ownership of all wealth, property and resources, that it could be redistributed in a more equitable manner and this would be for the common good
  • History however informs us that while communist societies stagnated and suffered, through persecution and starvation, capitalist societies throughout the same period of time, flourished and prospered
  • This rather inconvenient fact forced the new Marxists to shift their policies away from class struggle to the politics of identity
  • Identity politics is a structure which grants more or less privilege to groups or individuals based on immutable characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity etc.
  • Instead of trying to control society through class conflict, they are now trying to control society through identity
  • In order to exert total control over society the new Marxist discovered that they needed to destabilise 5 key pillars of culture such as are religion, the family, education, media and law and order
  • One of the methods they use to destabilise the family is to destabilise children by confusing and sexualising them, and this is where the new RSE programme comes in
  • Once you destabilise a child’s identity, they become disaffected, dissatisfied and mentally ill and this makes them politically groomable so that they can be manipulated into becoming revolutionaries for the Marxist cause – which is to exert total control over society (communism). The children end up hating and rebelling against their parents’ morality, which they refuse and reject and potentially rise up against the older generations who they now see as repressing them and who are unable to understand them
  • The Marxist agenda is to turn your children into social justice warriors in order to further their agenda of communism and they do this by making your children so confused about their identities that they become mentally and emotionally unstable and this makes them easy to manipulate, both sexually and politically

 

  1. What could the RSE Agenda Potentially Lead To
  • Mental Health disorders in your child
  • Breakdown of the family unit to the point of uprising against the older generation
  • Contribution to breakdown of society
  • Total control through the successful implementation of Communism

 

  1. The History behind RSE in Ireland

1994
Minister for Education set up Expert Advisory Group on Relationships and Sexuality

1995
Expert Advisory Group presented an overview of the main issues regarding the introduction of RSE in Ireland, and concluded that the school had a role to play in supporting and complementing the work of the home while stressing that parents are the primary educators and, therefore, should have a major role in influencing developments in this area

The report put forward a framework for RSE which was mindful of the role of parents and the school community, as well as school ethos, in shaping delivery

1995
Department of Education issued circular M4/95 titled “Relationships and Sexuality Education

– schools were directed to begin the process of developing a school policy in collaboration with parents, teachers and management so that they could start to introduce RSE as part of the wider aspects of SPHE in 1995/1996

Section 6.1 (Rights of Parents) stated: “In deciding to include an RSE programme as part of SPHE in school curricula, the right and duty of Parents to provide for the religious, moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children is acknowledged. While the home is the natural environment in which RSE takes place, most parents look to schools for support in fulfilling their obligations to their children in this area of development. Consequently, the school is seen as playing a supportive and complementary role to the home in this task. It is envisaged that this will be achieved by involving parents, with management and teachers, and, where appropriate, with pupils, in a collaborative exercise towards school policy development. This policy will make provision for the rights of parents who hold conscientious or moral objections to the inclusion of such programmes on the curriculum and will state how the school intends to address these situations.”

1998
The Education Act was enacted

This act enshrined in law the child’s right to Social, Personal and Health Education, with section 9 of the act requiring that every school use its available resources “to promote the moral, spiritual, social and personal development of students and to provide health education for them, in consultation with their parents and having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school”

2010
DES issued Circular 22/2010 titled “SPHE Best Practice Guidelines for Primary Schools”. This circular confirmed that “SPHE is a mandatory curricular subject in all primary schools. National and international research has consistently shown that the classroom teacher is the best placed professional to work sensitively and consistently with pupils and that s/he can have a powerful impact on influencing pupils’ attitudes, values and behaviour in all aspects of health education in the school setting

2010
DES issued Circular 37/2010 titled “RSE” which states:-
Schools have a responsibility under Section 9 (e) of the Education Act 1998 to promote the moral, spiritual, social and personal development of students and promote health education for them, in consultation with their parents, having regard to the characteristic spirit of the school….. Regard must also be had to Section 30 (2) (e) under which a child may not be required to attend instruction in any subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent of the student, or in the case of a student who has reached 18, the student….The RSE policy should reflect the core values and ethos of the school as outlined in the school’s mission statement. Spiritual, moral and ethical issues may arise when teaching RSE. The school’s RSE policy should guide teachers in the treatment of such issues, in accordance with the ethos of the school.”

So even up to 2010, the Department of Education was cognisant of both the role of parents and ethos of the school in developing and implementing an RSE programme

That said, the Department of Education was also starting to acknowledge that the classroom teacher can influence students’ attitudes, values and behaviour

2012
In 2012, the people approved the 31st Amendment of the Constitution, which provided for the insertion of a new Article 42A relating to children

This referendum was passed by 58% of voters on a turnout of 33% of those eligible to vote.

2014
The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, 2014-2020 was published. The vision of the policy was stated to be “Our vision is for Ireland to be one of the best small countries in the world in which to grow up and raise a family, and where the rights of all children and young people are respected, protected and fulfilled; where their voices are heard and where they are supported to realise their maximum potential now and in the future.”

2015
The Gender Recognition Act was enacted. The purpose of this act is to allow persons over the age of 18 years to make an application for recognition that they have changed their gender

Department of Children and Youth Affairs published the National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision Making 2015 – 2020

“The goal of this …… is to ensure that children and young people will have a voice in their individual and collective everyday lives across the five national outcome areas.. The strategy focuses on the everyday lives of children and young people and the places and spaces in which they are entitled to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives

Section 4 of this strategy paper deals with Supporting Implementation and talks about the legal supports available to ensure the voice of the child is heard. These legal supports are: 1. Child and Family Agency Act 2013; 2. The Referendum on Children’s Rights 2012; and 3. Guardian ad litem

2016
A
n Oversight Committee for the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy was established

2016
‘Being LGBT in School’ A Resource for Post Primary Schools to Prevent Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying and Support LGBT Students’ was published

2018
Department of Children and Youth Affairs published the first ever LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy for the years 2018-2020

Minister for Education and Skills asked the NCCA to undertake ‘a major review’ of RSE in schools, with one of the specific areas for consideration being “LGBTQ+ matters”

2019
NCCA published its Report on the Review of RSE in primary and post primary schools

2021
NCCA published the brief for the redevelopment of Junior Cycle SPHE – for consultation. One point of significant note is the fact that section 2.3 of this paper deals only with student and teacher perspectives, disregarding the voices of parents entirely. In fact, the role or authority of the parent is not mentioned even once in this paper

2022
NCCA published a Consultation Report on the Brief for the Review of Junior Cycle SPHE

This report included feedback sections for students, teachers and other stakeholders

2022
July 2022 the Minister for Education opened the NCCA consultation phase on the draft SPHE  curriculum including RSE for Junior Cycle

This consultation phase remains open until the 18th of October 2022

 

  1. 2019 NCCA Report and the consultation that proceeded this report

The review took place under 3 specific headings:

  • drawing on studies and research
  • in consultation with key leaders, organisations and individuals with expertise and experience in the area of RSE and
  • working with schools

What do you notice missing from this list – PARENTS

It has become a common theme over the course of this review of the RSE curriculum (which commenced in 2018) that the voice of the parent has been significantly downgraded to that of “other stakeholder” or “individual”

The main takeaways from the consultation process are:

  • Stakeholders suggest that students should have access to factual, scientific information free from bias, but at the same time, those making these submissions often make reference to the fact that such information contain concepts such as gender fluidity – so there is a constant play on language
  • Some people believe that parents should not have the right to opt their children out of RSE
  • Many people believe that the law should be changed to ensure that RSE is delivered by all schools regardless of that schools ethos
  • The vast majority of submissions are in favour of teaching LGBT+ sexualities and gender identity to young children

 

  1. Significant differences between when RSE was initially introduced in the 90’s and now

1990’s

  • Focus was on the rights, voice and opinions of the parent – to the extent that the opinion of the parent was considered paramount
  • It was accepted that schools could introduce selected aspects of RSE according to the school ethos
  • RSE was delivered very much from a factual, biological perspective

Now

  • The focus is the rights and voice of the child, coupled with the opinions of teachers, and NGO’s. The voice of the parent is not even considered secondary in some cases. The parent has been reduced to a stakeholder where their opinion is given same weight as a member of the general public
  • A majority of respondents believe that RSE should be mandatory and the law should be changed to force schools to deliver all aspects of the agreed upon RSE programme
  • A majority of respondents believe that children should be taught about diversity and inclusion, but it is unclear how many respondents understand what these terms actually mean

 

  1. RSE from an International Perspective

In 2010, the WHO published “Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe” which states:

this document is intended to contribute to the introduction of holistic sexuality education. Holistic sexuality education gives children and young people unbiased, scientifically correct information on all aspects of sexuality and, at the same time, helps them to develop the skills to act upon this information. Thus it contributes to the development of respectful, open-minded attitudes and helps to build equitable societies…. A holistic approach based on an understanding of sexuality as an area of human potential helps children and young people to develop essential skills to enable them to self-determine their sexuality and their relationships at the various developmental stages. It supports them in becoming more empowered in order to live out their sexuality and their partnerships in a fulfilling and responsible manner…. Sexuality education is also part of a more general education, and thus affects the development of the child’s personality… In this document, it was deliberately decided to call for an approach in which sexuality education starts from birth. The trend in Europe as a whole over recent decades has been to make sexuality education mandatory, without “opting-out” clauses that allow parents to withdraw their children from classes

Part 2 of this document sets out a sexuality education matrix and states: “The following matrix has been designed to give an overview about the topics which should be introduced to specific age groups.”

The matrix includes recommendations such as:

  • 0-4 years: the right to explore gender identities; enjoyment and pleasure when touching one’s own body and early childhood masturbation
  • 4-6 years: same sex relationships; acceptance of diversity; their rights; gender, cultural, age differences; talk about differences; an open non judgmental attitude; respect for different norms regarding sexuality
  • 6-9 years: body changes, menstruation, ejaculation; a positive gender identity; choices about parenthood; the basic idea of contraception; the difference between friendship, love and lust; diseases related to sexuality; sexual violence and aggression; name their rights; recognise and deal with differences
  • 9-12 years: use condoms and contraception effectively in future; first sexual experience; gender orientation; sexual behaviour of young people

 

  1. What is covered in the new RSE programme

The junior cycle course in SPHE is said to be: “designed to support students in developing a positive sense of self and a capacity to care for themselves and others.”

It is designed around four interconnected strands and three cross-cutting elements:

“Strand 1: Understanding myself and others This strand focuses on developing self-awareness and self-esteem and building some of the foundational skills and dispositions needed for healthy
relationships and to thrive in life (including communicating and negotiating, listening, showing empathy, respecting difference, and self-management/self-regulation).

Strand 2: Making healthy choices This strand offers opportunities for students to consider how they can make healthy choices to support their wellbeing. It explores what being healthy might
look like for a teenager, what helps or gets in the way of making healthy choices and how to access reliable information to support good choices. Students will also practice the skills needed
for making healthy decisions and come to understand contextual factors, such as family, peer,
media and social pressures, that influence decisions.

Strand 3: Relationships and sexuality This strand explores the cognitive, physical, emotional and social aspects of relationships and sexuality through a positive, inclusive and rights-based
approach. The focus is on family relationships, friendships, romantic/intimate and potential sexual relationships in the future.

Strand 4: Emotional wellbeing This strand primarily focuses on nurturing emotional wellbeing and promoting positive mental health. It helps develop problem solving and coping skills for dealing with the emotional ups and downs of life, explores how to support themselves and others in challenging times and discusses where/how to find support, when needed”

“The four strands are underpinned by three cross-cutting elements that support effective teaching  and learning in SPHE. These are:
Awareness
Dialogue
Reflection and action.

Awareness
Awareness is the ability to understand one’s own thoughts, emotions, values and behaviour. It includes understanding how different things influence our sense of self and how we live our lives,
including the influence of family, peers, the internet, gender, culture and social norms. This element also includes an awareness that to be human is to be in relationship and that we all share
a common humanity, dignity and rights.

Dialogue
Through dialogical teaching and learning students are facilitated in engaging with a diversity of viewpoints; can discuss and reflect on their own perspectives, values, and behaviours and those of others; enlarge their understanding on topics of relevance to their lives and come to informed, thoughtful decisions based on their personal values, with due regard to their own rights and the rights of others. Respectful dialogue is aided by presuming a diversity of backgrounds, identities, cultures and experiences in every classroom and seeing these as a resource for learning.

Reflection1 and action
This focuses on students reflecting on what they have learned and coming to their own personal insights and conclusions in response to their learning. It focuses on enabling students to consider how the learning can inform their choices, behaviour and relationships, and discerning what it means for their lives now or for the future. Education in SPHE is a ‘praxis’; an ongoing process of critical reflection and action, nurtured by dialogue with others.”

PLEASE PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING SECTIONS – IN RELATION TO WHAT STUDENTS SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO AFTER STUDING RSE:

Strand 1. Understanding myself and others

Students should be able to:
1.1 explore the physical, social and emotional changes that happen during adolescence
1.2 reflect on their personal strengths and values and how they bring these into relationships
1.3 explore how life experiences can impact on self-esteem and identify ways to nurture a positive sense of self-worth
1.4 appreciate that sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are core parts of human identity and that each is experienced along a spectrum
1.5 reflect on gender equity and how gender stereotypes impact on expectations, behaviour and relationships
1.6 discuss experiences/situations of bias, inequality or exclusion based on race/ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation and devise ways to create more inclusive environments
1.7 communicate in a respectful and effective manner, including demonstrating the capacity to understand the perspectives of, and empathize with others
1.8 demonstrate self-management skills, including setting personal goals, delaying gratification, and self-regulation of thoughts, emotions and impulses

Strand 2: Making healthy choices

Students should be able to:
2.1 evaluate what being healthy might look like for an adolescent, including how food, physical activity, sleep/rest and hygiene contribute to health and wellbeing
2.2 investigate how unhealthy products (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and snack and diet foods) are marketed and advertised to appeal to young people
2.3 analyse the supports and challenges for young people when it comes to making healthy choices about smoking, drinking alcohol and other addictive substances/behaviours, and discuss how the challenges can be overcome in real-life situations
2.4 demonstrate skills and strategies to help make informed choices that support health and wellbeing and apply them in real-life situations that may be stressful and/or involve difficult peer situations
2.5 discuss the physical, social and legal consequences of their own or others’ use of addictive substances
2.6 consider scenarios where, for example, using alcohol, nicotine, drugs, food and screens might be used to cope with unpleasant feelings or stress and discuss possible healthy ways of coping
2.7 assess the benefits and difficulties associated with their online world
2.8 discuss how to share personal information, images, opinions and emotions in a safe, responsible and respectful manner online and face-to-face
2.9 examine the risks and consequences of sharing sexual imagery online and explore why young people do this
2.10 demonstrate how to access appropriate and trustworthy information about health.

Strand 3: Relationships and sexuality

Students should be able to:
3.1 explore human sexuality – what it means, how it is expressed, what healthy sexual expression might look like and the difference between sexuality and sexual activity
3.2 discuss the values, behaviours and skills that help to make, maintain and end relationships respectfully (friends, family and romantic/intimate relationships)
3.3 identify signs of healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships
3.4 examine relationship difficulties experienced by young people in friendships, family relationships, and romantic/intimate relationships
3.5 explore the pressures to become sexually intimate and discuss ways to show respect for people’s choices
3.6 communicate in an effective manner that can support responsible decision-making about relationships and sexual health that are age and developmentally appropriate
3.7 appreciate the importance of giving and receiving consent in sexual relationships, from the perspective of building caring interpersonal relationships and from a legal perspective
3.8 explain the importance of safer sexual activity with reference to methods of contraception and protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
3.9 investigate the influence of digital media (in particular, the influence of pornography) on young people’s understanding, expectations and social norms in relation to sexual expression
3.10 demonstrate how to access appropriate and trustworthy advice, support or services related to relationships and sexual health.

Strand 4: Emotional wellbeing

Students should be able to:
4.1 discuss the fluid nature of emotional wellbeing and ways to protect and nurture it
4.2. recognise the links between thoughts, feelings and behaviour and how these impact on how we respond to different situations
4.3 consider the impact of stress and be able to draw upon a variety of techniques to help self regulate emotions and deal with the day-to-day stresses of life
4.4 discuss ways to support themselves in challenging times and where/how to seek support, if
needed
4.5 explore the potential impact of substance use on mental health
4.6 examine different kinds of abusive and bullying behaviour that can occur in online and face to-face interactions
4.7 explain why noticing and responding to abusive or bullying behaviour is important and discuss appropriate responses (why, how, where and when to report)
4.8 identify actions young people can take, without putting themselves at risk, in situations where they are aware of incidents of abusive behaviour or bullying happening
4.9 demonstrate how to access appropriate and trustworthy information and services aimed at supporting young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health
  1. RSE and the Law: The Constitution and Statute
  • The Constitution confirms the role of the school is subsidiary to that of the parents
  • Article 42 recognises parents as the primary educators of their child
  • Other articles also have a bearing on education law, in particular the articles dealing with the family and religion (Articles 41 and 44)

 

EDUCATION – ARTICLE 42 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF IRELAND

“1 The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.

2 Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes or in private schools or in schools recognised or established by the State.

3 1° The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or to any particular type of school designated by the State.

2° The State shall, however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.

4 The State shall provide for free primary education and shall endeavour to supplement and give reasonable aid to private and corporate educational initiative, and, when the public good requires it, provide other educational facilities or institutions with due regard, however, for the rights of parents, especially in the matter of religious and moral formation.”

 

Articles 41 and Article 42 dealing with Education and the Family have been the subject of a number of court decisions, which have found the following:

  • The family is the main source of education for the child
  • Parents are entitled to provide education outside the school system if they wish
  • The state may not force parents to send their children to any school or any particular kind of school
  • The state may require that the children receive a certain minimum education.
  • The state is obliged to provide for free primary education – this means up to the age of 18 year

In addition to the Constitutional protections offered, the Education Act 1998 also specifically states that the Minister “shall not require any student to attend instruction in any subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent of the student or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the student.”

It Is therefore settled, that parents and guardians may withdraw their child from any part of the school’s curriculum that they choose

 

  1. What can be done to Stop the RSE Agenda
  • Respond to the NCCA consultation which is open until 18 October 2022
  • Hold information sessions with parents so they understand the agenda behind this programme; the fact their rights as a parent are being eroded and downgraded by the school, department of education and NCCA; and the potential for serious mental health consequences if their children are exposed to this ideology
  • Opt your child out of SPHE and RSE – while also insisting that the school provide alternative study arrangements
  • Form broad based parent collations to collectively petition as a louder voice

Opting Out

The ICHR Draft Opt Out letter makes reference to circular 13/2018 which addressed “Religious instruction and worship in certain second level schools in the context of Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution of Ireland and Section 30 of the Education Act 1998” and provided for the following:

  • that those who did not want instruction in line with the requirements of any particular religion be timetabled for alternative tuition throughout the school year rather than supervised study or other activities
  • that a school must establish in advance the wishes of parents in relation to opting out of religious worship or instruction
  • that ascertaining parental choice in relation to religious instruction should be integrated with the school’s processes for establishing subject choices generally
  • that the school must offer an alternative subject(s) for those who do not want religious instruction. Parents must be made aware that such alternative tuition is available and be asked to choose between religious instruction and the alternative subject(s) offered by the school
  • that once an opt-out has been expressed it should endure in subsequent years unless otherwise advised by the parent; and
  • that there is no basis for a school to intrude in regards to the reason for the opt out on the privacy of those who are opting for the alternative subject(s). The only information required is that the parent wants to opt for the alternative subject(s)

The opt out letter template calls for similar arrangements to be made with regard to opting out of RSE

 

Please find the following supporting documents and templates:

  • Opt Out letter that you can send to your child’s school if you do not wish them to partake in SPHE or RSE – this letter asks the school to meet with you to discuss what alternative arrangements they intend to make when SPHE/RSE is taking place in the school, noting that advising you that you must come and collect your child from the school is not an acceptable alternative arrangement.
  • Submission that you can email to the NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) to express your disagreement at the proposed updates to the RSE curriculum. You just need to include the date and your name/address at the end of the letter.
  • Circulars M4/95 and 0013/2018, as discussed in this presentation on RSE

Documents:

Opt Out letter

Submission to the NCCA

Circular M4/95 

Circular 0013/2018

Your Right to Peaceful Assembly Under Attack

The Prosecution and Conviction of Glenn Miller of Yellow Vest Ireland and Peaceful Assembly 

On the 26th of September 2022, Ben Gilroy released a video on his Facebook channel advising that Glenn Miller of Yellow Vests had been in court that day charged with organising a protest during the Covid-19 lockdowns and had, in fact, been found guilty of this alleged offence and was handed a 6 month sentence and a €500 fine.

Following the release of this video, there was a lot of speculation on social media as to whether Glenn had actually been prosecuted for organising a protest, or for some other offence, and we expect this suspicion came in part from a disbelief that the guards, the DPP, the Government and the Courts could actually have gone so far as to declare protesting or the organisation of a protest to be an illegal act, in a country where it is claimed that we are free.

We met with Glenn to go through the offences he has been charged with in order to resolve any speculation.

The point of this video/publication is to eliminate any doubt that the courts have declared protesting during Covid-19 to be illegal and to ask you to understand that if they can find Glenn guilty of organising a protest, they can find anyone guilty. Although this video/publication is in part about Glenn Miller, it is also about you, your right to protest and the dangerous precedent this prosecution sets and how quickly your right to peaceful assembly can be taken away, regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall on.

 

Summonses

As we understand it, Glenn has 4 open summonses before the court, and they are all for “organising or causing to be organised a relevant event” – in Glenn’s case the relevant event in question is a protest.

The 2 summonses we have had sight of are for events held on the 22nd of August and 3rd of October 2020.

Although Glenn has 4 open summonses alleging that he organised protests on different dates, it has been suggested that the Gardai intend to serve up to 21 separate summonses on him – all for organising different protests on different dates.

The first comment we wish to make is that we recall a lot of negative speculation around Glenn when these protests were being organised, with many people querying how these protests were able to go ahead and why the Gardai were not intervening.

In our opinion, the level of government overreach we have endured over the last two and a half years has been a rehearsal for something more sinister in future and with this in mind, we can understand why the Gardai facilitated these protests.

If the Gardai or the Government were genuinely concerned that SARS COV 2 would be spread outdoors by people attending a protest, these protests would not have been allowed to continue – but if the point to these prosecutions is to quell the appetite for protesting in general whenever an absurd law is introduced declaring peaceful assembly to be illegal, then the only way to achieve that aim would be to make an example of someone by charging them with 21 separate offences, each potentially carrying a separate fine and prison sentence, this would ensure that they never organise a protest again and it would act as a deterrent to others.

 

Hermann Kelly

We are also aware that Hermann Kelly of the Freedom Party is being charged with organising a protest.

 

Tracey O’Mahony

One interesting point to note is that Tracey O’Mahony of the ICHR organised a protest on the 17th of March 2021 during a level 5 lockdown, and she has not been charged with any offence and the reason behind this is very clear to the ICHR. Tracey currently has a legal case before the courts challenging the constitutionality of the Covid-19 laws, and one of the replies from the State is that she does not have the legal standing to take this case (this simply means that the State is arguing that Tracey has not been sufficiently affected by the laws to allow her to take a case against the State).

If the State were to charge Tracey with organising a protest, this would mean they could no longer argue  she does not have legal standing.

In the opinion of the ICHR, the Gardai, Government and DPP are strategically deciding who to prosecute and which protests to facilitate to enable prosecution.

 

Book of Evidence

In addition to the 2 summons we have had sight of, we have also viewed a copy of a book of evidence for another alleged offence of organising a protest, which is said to have occurred on the 12th of September 2020. Interestingly this book of evidence makes specific reference to the offence of the “alleged organisation of a protest” in breach of the Health Act 1947, whereas the summons we discussed earlier referred to the organisation of a relevant event.

We are going to extract a few noteworthy points from the book of evidence for your information. The book of evidence states the following:

  1. The protest was permitted to continue on 12th September 2020 and Gardai facilitated the marches/protest by engaging in traffic management and allowing free movement.

This statement is important as at the time many people questioned why the Gardai were facilitating these protests. As we have said, the conclusion that we have drawn is that the Gardai and the DPP intend to make an example of yellow vest by potentially serving 21 separate summons on them and in order to make this example, it was necessary to allow these protests to continue.

  1. An Garda Siochana adopted a Graduated Policing Response to ensure individuals complied with the Governments temporary restrictions on movement as set out in the Regulations, by implementing a 4 step escalating principles of engage, explain, enforce and encourage…..

This statement is very important for anyone who has been charged with an offence under any Covid-19 regulation because these same principles would or should have been applied to every person before they were prosecuted for an offence. For example, at the end of this book of evidence, the Sergeant actually recommends against the prosecution of Glenn on this occasion as the Sergeant was not comfortable that all 4 stages had been followed with respect to this protest. So, anyone who has been charged with an offence under the Covid-19 regulations should study the book of evidence in their case to see if they can pick holes and argue that all 4 stages of engage, explain, enforce and encourage have not been followed.

  1. The third issue we wanted to point out is the level of surveillance around these protests. The book of evidence discusses Gardai watching open source media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube), relevant websites such as the YV website, being provided with photographic evidence from the Air Support Unit, also using CCTV from the Gardai Air Support Unit and using Garda camera CCTV. The book of evidence also confirms that at least 3 members of the Gardai wore plain cloths and mingled with protesters throughout the event.
  2. For any of these protests the Gardai carry out a threat assessment, and for the protest on the 12th of September 2020 the threat was deemed to be moderate to high risk as there were fears of a counter protest planned by “the ANTIFA group….”

This is a clear acknowledgement that a peaceful protest was planned and that the only threat of violence came from the pro establishment protesters of the left.

In fact, the book of evidence goes on to state that “there were no incidents of note reported by Gardai at this protest” – a further acknowledge that the people who organised and attended this protest intended to exercise their right of peaceful assembly.

  1. Finally the book of evidence concludes in recommending no prosecution in this case as “in light of the recent advice on proofs under the regulations in the Health Act …..

Conclusion

We hope this video/publication resolves any doubt regarding the multiple charges Glenn Miller is facing and the price he is likely going to pay for exercising his rights. We have no doubt if Glenn could go back, he would do it all again, which brings us to our final point. We are now entering a new era of state persecution, such that if you exercise political freedom, in ways deemed offensive to the establishment, you may end up in a prison cell.

We are reminded of Cathal Crowe TD standing tall in Dail Eireann and arguing to introduce laws to criminalise political discussion by branding it hate speech. We are also reminder of Leo Varadkar being interviewed on Newstalk suggesting that one could practically lose for expressing nationalist views. Make no mistake, our future, the future of our children and their freedom, depends on your willingness to resist, at high cost, unjust laws.

 

 

Return to School August 2022

Return to School August 2022

This will be the third year that we have produced a video/published information and template letters on Return to School for parents.

To recap, the video/information released in August 2020 covered the following topics:

  • Contact Tracing;
  • Face Coverings;
  • Temperature Checking; and
  • Isolation and Detention of children who are suspected cases of Covid-19.

While the video/information released in August 2021 covered the following topics:

  • The rights of a school to ask whether your child has been vaccinated against Covid-19;
  • The rights of a school to require your child’s temperature to be checked each day as a condition of admission;
  • The age at which a child can provide consent to medical treatment without parental knowledge or consent;
  • Whether it would be possible to make mandatory in law the Covid-19 vaccine for children in schools;
  • Whether one parent or two parent consent is required for medical treatment for your child;
  • What is informed consent.
  • Can your child’s school require that they be tested for Covid 19 using a PCR test if they are a close contact.

This years video/information release will cover the following topics:

  1. Current Covid-19 school policies, including the requirement to complete a return to school health form for your child;
  2. Vaccines in schools, including whether the school can ask if your child has been vaccinated against Covid-19 and whether parents can be refused entry to information evenings depending on their covid-19 vaccination status;
  3. Vaccination and the Legal Age of Consent;
  4. Right to Opt-Out of Social, Personal and Health Education (also called SPHE) and Relationship and Sexuality Education (also called RSE); and
  5. Public Consultation regarding updated Junior Cycle curriculum on Social, Personal and Health Education (also called SPHE) and Relationship and Sexuality Education (also called RSE).

 

Current Covid-19 School Policies

You can locate all material published by the Department of Education through a search on gov.ie

The search results for the Department of Education state that this department has released 1532 publications to date. This is the location where you will find updated information on Covid-19, sex education or basically anything else that is being mandated or recommended directly by the Department of Education.

The last entry for Covid-19 was on the 25 February 2022. We do not expect that this guidance note will be updated further before the return to school this year, so we will use this as the guidance for return to school in September 2022.

Firstly, this guidance note applies to primary, secondary and special needs schools and confirms that from the 28 February 2022 all restrictions are to be removed and schools should resume normal school routines and normal teaching and learning activities.

In particular this guidance states the following:

  • It is no longer a requirement for staff or students to wear a face covering in school;
  • The wearing of face coverings on school transport will no longer be mandatory but will continue to be advised;
  • Where schools implemented staggered drop offs or pickups or breaks, these are no longer necessary;
  • There is no longer a requirement to restrict visitors to schools and schools should revert to the normal arrangements for visitors. In this context parent teacher meetings should resume and schools where parent teacher meetings have not taken place should commence these as soon as possible;
  • Schools no longer need to request staff or students to complete a Return to Work form or a Return to School form after school holidays/breaks; and
  • The HSE will continue with the current processes to support the provision of antigen tests to primary schools, special schools and childcare settings. Participation in antigen testing is voluntary, therefore it is not necessary for parents to share information with the school about whether they have requested antigen tests and nor to confirm negative antigen tests.

At the end of his page, you can find a template letter which confirms the lifting of all such restrictions from the 28 February 2022 – you can issue a copy of this letter to your child’s school, in the unlikely event that they seek to continue to implement any Covid-19 measures.

In our view the most likely measure that they may seek to implement is a request to complete a Return to School health form, which you will note is no longer required or recommended by the Department of Education. It is also worth noting that given that a Return to School health form is no longer recommended, any school requesting that you fill in any such form is likely to run afoul of Data Protection laws, as there is no longer any lawful basis to request such information.

Vaccines in Schools

Information on immunisation in schools can be found on the HSE.ie website under their Schools Programme. As of 25 August 2022, we can confirm that this page was last updated on the 25 April 2022. This website confirms that: – “In September the HSE school immunisation teams deliver consent packs to Primary and Secondary schools across the country for children in Junior Infants and students in First Year.”

This consent pack will include:

  • A letter from your local immunisation team;
  • Information about the vaccines your child will be offered;
  • A consent form; and
  • An envelope.

Be aware that there is no legal requirement for you to answer or fill in the HSE consent form. It should be noted that if you do decide to fill in this consent form, this website states that: – “The information you add to your child’s consent form will be added to the HSE School Immunisation System.”

In the event that you do not consent to your child being administered with the Covid-19 or any other vaccine, you can find a template non consent letter at the end of this page, that you may use and issue to your child’s school.

Once or if you submit this non-consent letter to the school, they will obviously know that your child has not received the Covid-19 injection, so it is probably unlikely that they will seek any further information on the covid vaccine, however, in the unlikely event that the school asks if your child has been vaccinated against Covid-19, the law confirms that there is no lawful basis under general Data protection laws, that would allow the school to ask this question.

We have also included a template letter to this effect at the end of this page.

The next question that arises is whether your child’s school can ask if you, the parent or guardian has been vaccinated against Covid-19, failing which you will be refused entry to face to face parent teacher meetings and information nights. Once again, the law confirms that there is no lawful basis under general Data Protection laws, that would allow the school to ask this question or refuse you entry on the basis of a refusal to answer this question.

Again, we have included a template letter to this effect at the end of this webpage.

Vaccination and The Legal Age of Consent

When we talk about the age of consent for minors the relevant piece of legislation is section 23 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997, which provides that a person over the age of 16 years can give consent to surgical, medical or dental treatment without needing to obtain consent from their parents or legal guardian.

The first issues, therefore, to note is that if your child is over the age of 16 years, they may be approached in the school or by their GP to see if they want the Covid-19 vaccine, so you should ensure that your child is educated on the risks versus the benefits of this vaccine, ensure they are aware that they may be approached while in school, and ensure they know that the vaccine is not mandatory regardless of what they are told by the school or health care provider.

The law with regard to children under the age of 16 is a little less straight forward in this country. I say this given guidance issues by the HSE in their National Consent Policy version 1.3, which at Part 2 deals with children and minors and confirms that the age of consent with respect to surgical, medical or dental treatments is 16 years of age, however, this policy goes on to state that a mature minor – so this is a child under the age of 16 years (with no lower age limit) who is considered by the health care provider to have sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable that child to understand what is being proposed, can give consent to their own medical treatment, without parental consent or knowledge. The HSE Consent Policy goes on to state that the concept of mature minor is accepted in many other jurisdictions such as Northern Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

With regard to children under the age of 16 years, we would again advise you to ensure that your child is educated on the risks versus the benefits of this vaccine, ensure they are aware that they may be approached while in school, and ensure they know that the vaccine is not mandatory. With regard to children under the age of 16 years, we would also advise that you send both your child’s school and their GP a non-consent form advising that you do not consent to the Covid-19 vaccine being given to your child without your prior written consent and confirming that your child does not have the maturity, understanding or intelligence to give informed consent without parental involvement and that in this regard should a decision be made by the school or healthcare provider that your child is considered a mature minor, that you shall hold them personally liable for loss, damage, injury and interference with your constitutional rights to safeguard the welfare of your child.

Social, Personal and Health Education (“SPHE”) and Relationship and Sexuality Education (“RSE”)

Ireland currently has a subject called Social, Personal and Health Education, with Relationships and Sexuality Education being a key aspect of this SPHE course.

RSE has been a compulsory course in Irish schools since the late 1990’s and it is said that the current SPHE curriculum (which includes RSE) being taught in Irish schools has not been significantly updated since 1999. That said, we would strongly encourage you to check whether the SPHE curriculum applicable to your child’s school has been updated in any way, as this time last year we received some reports of concerning updates to lessons being taught to those in Junior and Senior Infants.

Right to Opt-Out of Current or Future SPHE/RSE

First and foremost, as parents or guardians, you have the right to request that you child does not attend any aspect of the school curriculum that you choose. This right derives from the Constitution of Ireland, which contains a number of articles relevant to the law on education.

Article 42 of the Constitution deals specifically with education. Other articles also have a bearing on education law, in particular the articles dealing with the family and religion (Articles 41 and 44).

Articles 41 and Article 42 dealing with Education and the Family have been the subject of a number of court decisions, which have found the following:

  • The family is the main source of education for the child. Parents are entitled to provide education outside the school system if they wish.
  • The state may not force parents to send their children to any school or any particular kind of school.
  • The state may require that the children receive a certain minimum education. This certain minimum has not yet been defined in legislation or in official policy. Many of the court cases have been about the precise meaning of that phrase.
  • The state is obliged to provide for free primary education – this means up to the age of 18 years

In relation to Minimum education -The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 does not give a definition of “minimum education”. However, it does allow the Minister to set out a “prescribed minimum education”.

In addition to the Constitutional protections offered, the Education Act 1998 also specifically states the following at section: –

30 (2) (e) the Minister— shall not require any student to attend instruction in any subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent of the student or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the student.”

It is therefore settled, that parents and guardians may withdraw their child from any part of the school’s curriculum that they choose. The issue that arises is what happens to your child if you choose to opt out of SPHE or any other part of the curriculum.

We have been advised that in such cases, the school will advise you that you must come and collect your child and remove them from the school while any such programmes are being taught. This would make it almost impossible for most parents to freely exercise their right to opt out and would instead put parents into a position of duress in accepting that their child partakes in a programme of teaching that is against their conscience.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this problem, we would therefore advise that you explore the following options:

  1. Talk to other parents to see if you can increase the number of parents willing to opt their children out of this programme as this would put more pressure on the school to find an alternative teaching space and supervision while the SPHE programme is ongoing.
  2. Request that anyone opting out of such programmes be allowed to spend this time in the school library.
  3. Try to identify other students who are also not parking in the SPHE programme and see if their parents would be open to agreeing a supervision rota. If the SPHE class is only scheduled to take place once a week a rota arrangement with other parents may be the best option.
  4. The final suggestion we would offer is to try to apply pressure to the school from within – and by this we mean to apply to join the Parents Association of your child’s school – noting that the membership of any such association is open to all parents of students of that school. In the event that your child’s school does not currently have a parents association, it should be noted that the Education Act 1998 states: – “The board shall promote contact between the school, parents of students in that school and the community and shall facilitate and give all reasonable assistance to parents who wish to establish a parents’ association and to a parents’ association when it is established.”

We have included a template letter at the end of this webpage that you may use if you wish to request that your child opt out of SPHE including RSE and also asking that the school make reasonable accommodations to facilitate any such opt out.

Public Consultation of Social, Personal and Health Education (“SPHE”) and Relationship and Sexuality Education (“RSE”)

There is currently an open public consultation on the new draft SPHE and RSE curriculum for Junior Cycle.  This consultation opened on 18 July 2022 and will close on 18 October 2022. During this time, it is open to anyone to make a written submission on the new proposed curriculum.

The desire to review the SPHE and RSE curriculum has been ongoing for several years and, in fact, commenced in April 2018, when the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment were asked to undertake a major review of Relationships and Sexuality Education in primary and post-primary schools to ensure that it was fit for purpose in modern Ireland.

In December 2019, the NCCA published a report of its review.

The NCCA subsequently established two subject development groups, one for primary and one secondary schools, to oversee the development of guidance material for schools.

The first curriculum to be redeveloped was the Junior Cycle SPHE short course. This draft document was published in July 2022 and it is this document that is the subject of a consultation phase until 18 October 2022.

What does the new curriculum cover?

It covers topics ranging from bias, inequality or exclusion to development of emotional resilience and addiction. In relation to relationships and sexuality in particular, it includes topics like healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships, human sexuality and gender identity, consent, the importance of safer sexual activity including contraception, and the influence of digital media including pornography and the sharing of digital images online.

We have included a link at the end of this webpage to the updated proposed curriculum so that you can review it in full.

Some Issues of Concern

Under “Expectations for Students: Strand 1 – Understanding Myself and Others” it states that students should be able to: –

  • “appreciate that sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are core parts of human identity and that each is experienced along a spectrum; reflect on gender equity and how gender stereotypes impact on expectations, behaviour and relationships; discuss experiences/situations of bias, inequality or exclusion based on race/ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation and devise ways to create more inclusive environments”

Under “Expectations for Students: Strand 3 – Relationships and Sexuality” it states: –

  • “explore human sexuality – what it means, how it is expressed, what healthy sexual expression might look like and the difference between sexuality and sexual activity; discuss the values, behaviours and skills that help to make, maintain and end relationships respectfully (friends, family and romantic/intimate relationships); investigate the influence of digital media (in particular, the influence of pornography) on young people’s understanding, expectations and social norms in relation to sexual expression

Under Appendix 2 “Glossary of Key Terms for SPHE”, terms such as the following are include: –

  • Gender expression; Gender identities; Heterosexism; Homophobia and transphobia, LGBTQI+; Spectrum of sexual orientations.

We believe that the new SPHE/RSE course curriculum is nothing short of ideological poison, which seeks to subvert your good nature as a human being in order to indoctrinate your children into a world of delusion and servitude.

The academic literature supporting these ideas has been carefully studied and accurately interpreted by many public intellectuals including James Lindsey and in places like the state of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis has gone so far as to ban teaching gender and queer theory, and critical race theory for that matter, to primary school children and it must also be said that this move was overwhelmingly supported by families in Florida.

We would strongly encourage you to review the draft Junior Cycle short course curriculum and submit your views through the consultation process. With respect to the consultation, you can either fill out the SPHE parent/guardian feedback survey directly through the NCCA website, or alternatively you can write your own submission and email it to [email protected]

For your convenience, we have drafted a submission that you may submit to the NCCA expressing your disagreement with the proposed draft junior cycle short course curriculum. You can find this draft submission (which you may adapt as you feel appropriate) at the end of this webpage.

GoFundMe Campaign

Please support the Go Fund Me campaign organised by Founder and Chairman of the ICHR Tracey O’Mahony.

Welcome Message

I would like to welcome you to our new website, which is dedicated to the defence and promotion of human rights and civil liberties in Ireland.

Freedom is Hard Won but Easily Lost

Ronald Regan said “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction”.