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Minority Religions under Irish Law

Islam in National and International Context


Edited by Kathryn O'Sullivan

Minority Religions under Irish Law focuses the spotlight specifically on the legal protections afforded in Ireland to minority religions, generally, and to the Muslim community, in particular. Although predominantly focused on the Irish context, the book also boasts contributions from leading international academics, considering questions of broader global importance such as how to create an inclusive environment for minority religions and how to regulate religious tribunals best. Reflecting on issues as diverse as the right to education, marriage recognition, Islamic finance and employment equality, Minority Religions under Irish Law provides a comprehensive and fresh look at the legal space occupied by many rapidly growing minority religions in Ireland, with a special focus on the Muslim community.

Belachew Girma Degefie

The Constitution of Ethiopia takes diversity seriously as a response to the country’s history. On the other hand, the Constitution does not protect minority groups to the extent that it promised in its Preamble, as has been observed for many years. This necessitates a system that at best fosters the interests of minorities and thereby contributes to establishing a legitimate government. This article recommends that a consociational arrangement protects minorities by enabling them to exercise autonomy at the municipal level and be represented in the federal government, thereby allowing them to participate in the federal law-making process. Executive power sharing allows ethnic groups to participate in the federal executive and feel that they are part of the government. Finally, minority veto allows them to veto laws that affect their vital interests such as language rights.

Edited by European Centre for Minority Issues, The European Academy Bozen/Bolzano, Abo Akademi University, Babes-Blolyai University, Hungarian Academy of Science and University of Glasgow

The European Yearbook of Minority Issues provides a critical and timely review of contemporary developments in minority-majority relations in Europe. It combines analysis, commentary and documentation in relation to conflict management, international legal developments and domestic legislation affecting minorities in Europe.
Part I contains scholarly articles and, in the 2017 volume, features a special focus section on the role of social media in minority protection, discussing its potentials and pitfalls
Part II contains reports on national and international developments.
Part III features book reviews introducing and critiquing new, relevant literature within the disciplines of the social sciences, humanities and law.

Apart from providing a unique annual overview of minority issues for both scholars and practitioners in this field, the Yearbook is an indispensable reference tool for libraries, research institutes as well as governments and international organisations.

The European Yearbook of Minority Issues is also available online.


Eoin Daly


The Constitution of Ireland ostensibly provides an elaborate framework of rules and principles underlying the accommodation of religious minorities. However, this constitutional framework is characterised by indeterminacy rather than any ideological distinctiveness or coherence. It oscillates between two contradictory approaches towards religion, one focused on ‘neutrality’, and another on ‘recognition’. In this contribution, I outline how these contradictory constitutional doctrines, both present in the text, may inform laws and policies relevant to accommodation of minority religious practices.


Claire Hogan


This article looks at the current level of accommodation of Islam in Irish education, employment and healthcare law, and attempts to predict future accommodation trends. The Irish legal system is very accommodating towards religion, but thus far has not experienced many claims from religious minorities. In the area of employment law, the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 protect employees against both direct and indirect discrimination. There have been some examples of claims in employment tribunals, however there are no Court decisions as of yet and no key principles emerging on the extent to which employers must accommodate religiously-motivated adjustments to uniform or working day. In the education arena, the school system is dominated by the Catholic Church, especially at primary level. This has the potential to make the rights of religious minorities quite precarious, especially in towns where there is only one primary school. There is strong protection for religious ethos in schools in constitutional case law. The headscarf has been permitted, with 2008 Government Guidelines suggesting that uniform policy is a matter for each individual school. Finally, in the hospital setting there is also a strong Catholic influence which continues to be felt. There are particular Muslim healthcare requirements which may call to be accommodated in the future. The author concludes that the constitutional ‘public order and morality’ constraint on freedom of religion is likely to be of importance in future cases involving accommodation of religion claims. It is also inevitable there will be clashes between fundamental rights including freedom of religion, the right to life, and the right to gender and sexual orientation equality.


Edana Richardson


The Islamic finance industry has continued to mature and diversify, with an expanding range of Islamic finance products progressively coming to market. Authorities in a number of jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, have actively sought to facilitate Islamic finance activity within their domestic economies. Consistent with this, Irish authorities have also taken some interest in the Islamic finance market. In doing so, they have introduced guidance and legislative amendments to address legal hurdles that may hinder the development of a level playing field between Islamic and conventional finance under Irish law. Looking at Islamic mortgage-alternatives and the religious supervisory boards of institutions engaged in Islamic finance, this chapter offers a comparative discussion of the accommodative measures and guidance introduced by Irish authorities to date. It also considers further legal clarifications and reforms that may be needed if the Islamic finance industry is to continue to develop in Ireland.


Kathryn O’Sullivan


The legal protections that are afforded – or, in many cases, are not afforded – to religious minorities right across the world are attracting increased attention. Although concern for the plight of religious minorities is certainly not confined to Western democracies, nor is it invariably related to the rapidly growing Muslim communities in such countries, migration patterns across, in particular, the Twentieth Century, from Muslim majority countries to Western, usually Christian majority, countries has in no small way contributed to placing the spotlight on these protections. This chapter highlights Ireland’s specific relationship with migration and highlights the importance of understanding how new minority, especially non-Christian, religions fit into the social and legal context in Ireland.