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Cowen vows to protect rights of religious and non-believers

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has vowed to protect the rights of those with religious and non-religious beliefs.

In a statement to mark World Peace Day, Mr Cowen said he agreed with the Pope's declaration that the right to religious freedom was rooted in the very dignity of the human person. "It is the duty of governments to ensure all are afforded the right and freedom to profess and practise their religion of choice, without obstruction or harassment."

Mr Cowen continued by saying that governments had to also respect and fully protect the rights of those who professed no religion.

He paid tribute to the special contribution of those who served as peacekeepers in missions carried out under the auspices of the United Nations.

"Ireland is proud of its soldiers and gardai who are continuing the long tradition of professional service around the world to secure peace and stability as an expression of our commitment to the cause of world peace," he said.

But Mr Cowen also warned about the nuclear threat .

"The precarious nature of the peace on the Korean peninsula, with the attendant nuclear threat from the Democratic Republic of North Korea, has been highlighted in recent weeks, while other states have also failed to co-operate in ensuring compliance with the international non-proliferation regime," he said.

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