Forcing Presidents to swear a religious oath before they take office is “stupid”, Newstalk Breakfast presenter Ciara Kelly has said.
Before a President can take office, they must swear to uphold the Constitution “In the presence of Almighty God” and ask Him to “direct and sustain me."
Ireland is significantly less religious than when the Constitution was promulgated in 1937 and Ciara feels there should be an alternative oath for atheists.
“I would feel utterly hypocritical swearing on the Bible because I don’t have any affiliation to the Bible and don’t believe in that,” she said.
“I think that’s part of the argument against this… I think it’s sort of stupid and I don’t see why you can’t put your hand on the Constitution and say, ‘I solemnly swear to undertake and uphold the laws within this and uphold the values that ascribed’ - and to take it seriously.
“I think you can take things seriously without the Bible.”
Co-presenter Shane Coleman said he does not want to live in a fully secular State because he likes “Christian values” but feels the oath is out of date.
“I absolutely accept the argument that in a modern day republic, it’s probably ludicrous to expect somebody [to swear an oath to God],” he said.
“There was a court challenge to the European Court about this - the likes of Fergus Finlay, Róisín Shortall, David Norris and others took this.
“They actually lost in the European Court of Human Rights; it was more because it boiled down to the fact that they weren’t seriously going to become President, so it didn’t actually impinge on their rights.
“Intellectually, the idea of someone having to do that in a republic I think is wrong.”
As the oath is prescribed in the Constitution, any change would have to be put to the people in a referendum.
Main image: Ciara Kelly