The constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom.
The constitution prohibits promotion of one religious group over another as well as discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. The government does not restrict the teaching or practice of any faith. There is no state religion.
The constitution provides that “publication or utterance” of “blasphemous matter” is an offense punishable in accordance with law, but it does not define blasphemy. In the absence of legislation and in the uncertain state of the law, the courts have not prosecuted anyone for blasphemy in several years.
There is no legal requirement that religious groups or organizations register with the government, nor is there any formal mechanism for government recognition of a religious belief or group.
The government permits, but does not require, religious instruction in public schools. Most public and private primary and secondary schools are confessional, and their boards of management are governed partially by trustees who are members of religious denominations. Under the terms of the constitution, the Department of Education provides equal funding to schools of different religious denominations, including Muslim and Jewish schools, as well to nonconfessional schools. Although religious instruction is an integral part of the curriculum of most schools, parents may exempt their children from such instruction.
Publicly funded church-linked schools are permitted to refuse to admit a student not of that religious group if the school can prove the refusal is essential to the maintenance of the “ethos” of the school (for example, too many Catholics in a Muslim school could prevent the school from having a Muslim “ethos”). However, there have been no reports of any children refused admission to any school for this reason. By law a religious school may select its staff based on their religious beliefs.
The government observes the following religious holidays as national holidays: Saint Patrick’s Day (the country’s national day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas, and Saint Stephen’s Day.