The title of this article is a toast I make each year on Good Friday while enjoying an alcoholic beverage with some form of meat dish. Before continuing I think I need to give my non-Irish readers some background. In theory Ireland is a secular state. In reality it wasn’t for much of the last century when it was in fact a Catholic state in which the church wielded significant power and influence. Much of the church’s influence is gone but there are still a few glaring reminders of a more theocratic past. The law banning the sale of alcohol on Good Friday is one such out-of-place reminder. My own private little protest against this probably unconstitutional law is to toast to the death of Catholic Ireland each Good Friday.

I do want to make a few clarifications before I get crucified here (no pun intended). Firstly, I’m delighted that I’m lucky enough to live in a country where every Catholic is free to practice their religion if they so wish. Catholics, Protestants, other Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans of all creeds, etc., all can practice their religion freely in Ireland. That’s fantastic. If you think I am toasting for an end to religions freedoms you are very wrong in deed. If you think I’m toasting for an end to Catholicism you would be just as wrong. I am toasting an end to enforced Catholicism. No religion should have it’s dogmatic rules enshrined in Irish law and forced upon the entire population.

Something you may want to ponder if you’re in favour of legally enforced Catholic dogma. Just how much faith do Irish Catholics really have if we need to legislate in a failed attempt to enforce adherence to church rules? And it really is a failed attempt. Just look at the boom in alcohol sales on Holy Thursday each year as the supposedly Catholic Irish stock up so they can circumvent the attempt to legally enforced church rules!

Now, I’m sure some of you are wondering what on earth makes me go so far as to call this law probably unconstitutional? I give you article 44, paragraph 2.2 of the Irish Constitution:

The State guarantees not to endow any religion

At the end of the day this not a big deal really, at worst an minor inconvenience. For example, I wanted to have some beer with my steak tonight but I forgot to buy it yesterday so now I have to do without. Hardly the end of the world . It’s probably the very triviality of this law which has allowed it to remain on the books unchalleneged. Because really, does anyone have the time and the energy to take a constitutional challenge to this minor point in our alcohol laws through the courts? Should anyone even bother? I mean the courts are overloaded as is and they really do have much more important things to be doing.

My hope isn’t that the courts will force the government to remedy this small aberration in the law. Instead, my hope is that the next time the government amend the alcohol laws in this country that they simply remove the Good Friday ban. I also hope that the Catholic church are mature enough to let that happen without making a fuss. The church, like the courts, have much bigger problems they should be dealing with.