The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a case by a group of Irish politicians who claim that the religious language in the oath for office of President and for members of the Council of State would potentially breach their freedom of conscience, thought and religion rights.

The applicants, Róisín Shortall, John Brady, Fergus Finlay, David McConnell and David Norris, took the case on the basis that religious language contained in the declarations required under the Irish Constitution for the office of President of Ireland and for members of the Council of State was contrary to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights which covers freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

The applicants had claimed that owing to their political careers and prominence in public life, they could aspire to election to the Presidency or be invited to serve on the Council of State, but that the religious elements of the declarations required under Articles 12.8 and 3.14 of the Constitution were contrary to their beliefs, and would therefore prevent them from taking up these offices or require them to make a religious declaration against their conscience.

The Court in Strasbourg this morning declared the applications inadmissible, in that the applicants did not bring reasonable and convincing evidence that they were likely to be directly affected by these requirements and therefore could not claim to be victims of a violation of the Convention.