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Current legal position on religion

The supreme law of the state is the Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann). The articles of the Constitution which refer to religion are to be found at 44.1 and 44.2.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion as described in article 44.1. “The State acknowledges that the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God. It shall hold His Name in reverence, and shall respect and honour religion”.

Article 44.2 guarantees religious freedom in the following terms:
“Freedom of conscience and the free profession and practice of religion are, subject to public order and morality, guaranteed to every citizen”. (44.2.1)
And “The State shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status”. (44.2.3)
The constitutional neutrality of the state vis-à-vis any particular religion is stated in “The State guarantees not to endow any religion”. (42.2.2)
Note also the Referendum in 1972 which removed the clause in the Constitution which had recognized the special position of the Roman Catholic Church.

The position of religious bodies is protected through the following articles :
“Every religious denomination shall have the right to manage its own affairs, own, acquire and administer property, movable and immovable, and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes”. (44.2.5)
And “The property of any religious denomination or any educational institution shall not be diverted save for necessary works of public utility and on payment of compensation”. (44.2.6).

D 21 September 2012    ARichard O’Leary

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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