THE DECISION by the Irish government to remove the death penalty from the country's constitution by way of a referendum in May has been welcomed by anti-death groups in the Republic, writes Garry O'Sullivan.
The government's decision was in response to the European Convention on Human Rights, which abolished the death penalty. The decision was welcomed by, among others, Bishop Raymond Fields and Jerome Connolly of the Irish bishops' Justice and Peace Commission, moral theologian Fr Paul Tighe and Fr Jim Caffrey, director of Catholic Youth Care and head of the Sant'Egidio Community in Ireland.
Fr Tighe welcomed the proposal saying it reflected the current teaching of the Catholic Church. In recent years, the Church has moved to a position of near-total opposition to the death penalty.
Fr Caffrey said that the removal of the wording will be a "symbolic move, and would make an important statement on an important issue while stressing solidarity with people who are on death row".