People of Pagan faith in Ireland enjoy the same legal protections as any other citizen no matter what tradition they belong to.
The last remnants of the Witchcraft Act of 1735, inherited from the old English legal system, were scrapped in 2006 as part of a long list of archaic laws to be removed under the Irish government’s modernisation programme. In 2012 an additional 3,000 obsolete laws were earmarked for scrapping.
The freedom of religious belief is set out in Articles 2 & 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, and is further expanded upon in 1981 by the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. These rights are also set out in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, 2003, and Articles 40 & 44 of the Constitution of Ireland, 1937. The protection from discrimination on the grounds of religion is further underlined by the Employment Equality Acts of 1998 to 2011 and the Equal Status Acts of 2000 to 2011, with the Defamation Act, 2009 offering further avenues for redress.
In 2009 the national Health Services Executive launched the Health Services Intercultural Guide in response to an expressed need by healthcare staff across a range of cultural backgrounds for knowledge, skills and awareness in delivering care to people from various backgrounds. Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone contributed to a chapter of this publication devoted to Pagan traditions including Wicca & Witchcraft.
Another step towards fully expressing the ethos set out in the Intercultural Guide came in 2016 when the Health Services Executive agreed, on foot of consultation with Pagan Life Rites, to include Pagan faiths amongst the categories of religion on the Patient Administration System (PAS) used across the national network of fifty acute hospitals. Furthermore, these hospitals will provide details of the Priestesses and Priests of Pagan Life Rites to patients and families requesting Pagan chaplaincy support. The clergy of Pagan Life Rites are registered by the Office of the General Register (GRO) as legal solemnisers of marriage in Ireland.
All public bodies are legally obliged to act in accordance with Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, 2014, which compels them to implement Public Sector Duty, promote equality and eliminate discrimination or preferential treatment.