Meeting of the Director of Dialogue Ireland with Justice Catherine McGuinness of OSCE

The Director of Dialogue Ireland had a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs Iveagh House on Feb.1 with  Justice Catherine McGuinness Personal Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions*

Dialogue Ireland had become aware of the appointment of Justice McGuinness when one of the members of our Italian associations of FECRIS made us aware that the former Representative Massimo Introvigne was not retained when Ireland took over from Lithuania.

During the course of my meeting it was clear that there is a lot of ambiguity around the cult issue here in Ireland. We had an exchange on the problem of definition and the lack of protection afforded presently to those who become involved in such high demand groups or cults.

We referred to the parliamentary reply Dialogue Ireland received in asking how the State intended to protect the human rights of those involved in these groups in Ireland.

DI felt that the following reply neglected existing Irish law as follows:

The Deputy will appreciate that the word ‘cult’ is a chameleon-hued word that may gets its colours in any given context from the subjective views of the speaker, and that there are no clear, specific, manageable, and universally accepted criteria for identifying cults.

Existing Irish law seems to be pretty specific. This extract is from the Charities Act 2009:

For the purposes of this section, a gift is not a gift for the advancement of religion if it is made to or for the benefit of an organisation or cult—
(a) the principal object of which is the making of profit, or
(b) that employs oppressive psychological manipulation—
(i) of its followers, or
(ii) for the purpose of gaining new followers.

The Director mentioned how both France and Belgium have addressed this issue:

Moving on from Ireland to the international scene we in Dialogue Ireland and as a member association of  Fecris  expressed to Justice McGuinness our concerns for the protection of human rights within cultist movements. It is sometime difficult to know how to address the leadership of cult groups who have representatives who attempt to present themselves as the victims of human right abuses but in fact are denying their members these rights. They use the nomenclature of Religion but they are in fact perpetrators of serious abuse, and they find scholars of Religion who are cult deniers in the same way as holocaust deniers.

We in DI and in Fecris are concerned that groups who will use the rhetoric of human rights, are in fact attempting to claim these freedoms to actually do the opposite. Obviously we are concerned for the rights of any minority or religious group
and believe it is essential to project peoples’ right to any belief, but we are specially concerned when groups use processes
that overwhelm the mind and reduce their members to a dependent state. In other words this is not about Freedom of Religion but but the protection of Human Rights.
In Ireland there 5 examples that come to mind:
The House of Prayer:
Tony Quinn:
Abundant Life/Victory:

Scientology Organisation:

We pointed out that Scientology had a very successful lobbying presence for Europe in Brussels, but we needed to realise the threat they posed to all Democratic Societies.

Justice McGuinness had acquainted herself with some of our research on our blog and was familiar with some of the issues we were raising.

Dialogue Ireland was very grateful that Justice McGuinness took the time to meet us in her busy schedule. We raised the possibility that the President of Fecris Tom Sackville might meet with her in due course.

*Justice McGuinness is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland, on which she served from 2000 to 2006, having served previously as a judge on the High Court and the Circuit Court.  In January 2012, she was appointed as a member of the Council of State, and she is also currently Adjunct Professor of Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway.  She served inter alia as President of the Law Reform Commission from 2005 to 2011, and as Chairperson of the Employment Equality Agency from 1987 to 1992, and was elected to Seanad Éireann, the upper house of the Irish Parliament between 1979 and 1987.  She has served in an advisory capacity to the General Synod of the Church of Ireland, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and is also an honorary patron of the Holocaust Education Trust of Ireland.

One Response

  1. “…focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other Religions*..” You do realize the discrimination in islam against other religions. Whilst islam remains tolerant of others when it is not in a position of power in a country, that changes when a certain percentage of the population is muslim? Also the Cairo Agreement on human rights asserts that sharia is it’s only source “..The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI) is a declaration of the member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference adopted in Cairo in 1990,[1] which provides an overview on the Islamic perspective on human rights, and affirms Islamic Shari’ah as its sole source…” Sharia gives no freedom of religion, women’s rights are non-existant, blasphemy is punishable by death (and to even draw a cartoon of the prophet will mean you will spend the rest of your life with body-guards) etc. “…groups use processes
    that overwhelm the mind and reduce their members to a dependent state…” – this is done very effectively in islam, in that to question the Qur’an or the “prophet” is tantamount to blasphemy. I don’t see how I can be called a racist in questioning islam, as islam is not a race. In fact one can also call it a political system as well as a “religion” if sharia law is considered of higher authority than the laws of man. And in spite of all this muslims are constantly claiming they are unjustly treated and have managed to encroach on our freedom of speech by pulling the victim card. – Rene


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