LIMERICK’S Deputy Willie O’Dea has supported legislation providing a legal footing for humanist wedding ceremonies in Ireland.
An amendment to the 2004 Civil Registration Act, the bill passed in the Dail last week, comes on foot of representations from the Humanist Association of Ireland.
Figures from last year’s census show that 5.3% of the population of Limerick city described themselves as having no religion.
Speaking on the bill, Deputy O’Dea commented: “I have never attended a humanist wedding but I recently attended a humanist funeral in Limerick. I was impressed by the dignity and solemnity of the occasion. People of the humanist persuasion espouse an ethical philosophy of life and are required to act with reason and compassion. I do not doubt that many of them live their lives far better than people who claim to be members of particular religious organisations.”
Deputy O’Dea did express some reservations on how the courts might interpret the meaning of a “secular body”, a register of which would be created to empower such groups to perform weddings.
And he commented that the criteria for such secular bodies seemed to be more restrictive in law those for religious bodies which have the power to solemnise weddings, which was not always desirable.
Mentioning scientologists, “pagan associations and the Universal Church of Satan”, Deputy O’Dea said “most people would find it undesirable that such organisations might be authorised to solemnise marriages ... in this country simply because they happen to be part of a religious group as per the broad definition set out in the principal act”.