I am at the Labour Party Conference in Wexford town. There are many debates and motions. An emergency motion was debated today, Saturday on the issue of the ownership of the National Maternity Hospital. The Labour Party voted that the hospital should be in public ownership. The issue with this debate is the fear that if a religious order owns the hospital then they might impose their views in relation to care in the hospital. If that was to happen then those mothers who don’t share the views of the nuns would be discriminated against. We have seen across the world in countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia etc. where religious leaders gain political power that individual liberty suffers. People have different ideas about ethics and religion. In a peaceful society where liberty and equality is respected the state is neutral on questions of personal beliefs. A secular state respects liberty. Giving a religious group control over health care undermines individual liberty.
John O Brien.