In July 1999 the president of the Association of Irish Humanists, Justin Keating, (who had been a Labour Party Government Minister in the 1970s), wrote in The Irsh Humanist that "I would not allow celibates near disadvantaged institutionalised children, not because they are all bad, but because the risk is too high." In the same article he wrote that "that capitation fees exceed the money spent on each child, and that the church is subsidising other activities with this money". (In the 1950s the annual capitalition fee for each child in Artane was about £75. Today the annual amount per child in State resistial institutions runs to hundreds of thousands of eoros.)
Remarkably the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, called on Mr Keating to withdraw the remark about celibates and to apologise. Mr Donnacha O'Connell. Director of the ICCL, made the comment: 'If, in any other context, one were to castigate a class of people because of the actions of a few in that class, it would be called hate speech'. (This may have been the last non-PC statement ever issued by the ICCL!)
In the same newsletter in May 1998 Mr. Keating had described the broadcasting of the Angelus on RTE as "wildly divisive". It says, he continued, that "if you are not Catholic, you are not really Irish". He said he would believe in the sincere conversion of the Catholic Hierarchy to pluralism "when it is they (his emphasis) who insist on dropping the Angelus from RTE out of respect for others who feel it offensive to their culture or belief system".
Mr Keating was not uniformerly hostile to religious believers however. In an article in the Irish Times on 26 April 2004 he argued that Islam is a diverse religion, not a homogenous conspiracy, that "the huge mess of the Near and Middle East is of Western making" that the Islamic countries "are in extremely rapid evolution"and that " if a humanist may say it to Christians, I think we should try loving them."