Is lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday by the government a direct effort to move away from our Catholic heritage?

The Government is set to remove the ban on selling alcohol on Good Friday after 90 years since it was first introduced. This decision has come after many publicans were campaigning to have it removed. The Intoxicating Liquor Bill 2017 is set to come into law for Good Friday 2018.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is expected to allow the Bill in the Seanad. Government sources said this is a firm indication of a policy shift from the Minister for Justice. The main objective of this Bill is to reform the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol.

With the announcement of this amendment, it raises the question is the Government moving further away from our Catholic heritage. Over the past century, the relationship between the Church and State has drastically changed. From De Valera giving the Catholic Church a ‘special position’ in the Constitution in 1937 until now it is safe to say that the relationship between the Church and Government has evolved.

Once a country heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, the power of the Catholic Church has greatly diminished even from when our parents were teenagers. This is a sign of Ireland changing from its old ways of a Catholic dominated country. We no longer seek the approval and acceptance of the Church as we did previously.

Our society is changing and so are people’s beliefs. Take a look at the results of the 2016 Census. The results revealed that the percentage of people who identify has dropped from 84.2 per cent to 78.3 per cent. The fact that this figure has dropped only proves that Ireland is moving further away from its Catholic identity.

But we must remember that Ireland is not the same country that it was 20 years ago. The Census also showed that there was an increase of 14,200 Muslims over the past five years as well as 37.5 per cent increase in Orthodox. The fact is, Ireland can no longer be described as a Catholic country. We are becoming a more multicultural country with so many different ethnicities and religions that Ireland can no longer be identified as being a Catholic country.

We as a nation are changing in more ways than just our religious beliefs. It was only two years that the Irish public voted for Yes in the Marriage Equality Referendum. For a country that previously criminalized homosexuals up until 1993, this was a monumental step forward for the Government and Irish society. This further reinforces that the Government are moving further and further away from the Catholic Church.

The removal of the sale of alcohol ban is no huge surprise. There is no place for a ban as archaic as this in Irish society anymore. It is clear that the Government is moving away from its Catholic ancestry and moving towards a much more modern and open society.

Niamh Dunne

Image Credit: Mark Carroll