Latest News

Irish government policy on Catholic schools branded discriminatory

The Irish flag is seen in late March on top of the General Post Office in Dublin (CNS)

An Irish government proposal to ban Catholic schools from prioritising Catholic students has been criticised as discriminatory, as it does not apply to schools of other faiths.

The policy “openly discriminates against the conscience and educational rights of Catholic parents” and the “religious, autonomy, and associational rights of Catholic faith schools,” according to the group Faith in Our Schools, which has formed to fight the proposal.

The Church runs over 90 per cent of state schools in Ireland. When a school is full, it can prioritise Catholic students when deciding how high they should go on the waiting list.

However, education minister Richard Bruton said it is “unfair that preference is given by publicly-funded religious schools to children of their own religion who might live some distance away, ahead of children of a different religion or of no religion who live close to the school.”

He is expected to announce plans to remove what he calls the “baptism barrier”. However, the change would not apply to non-Catholic faith schools, such as those run by the minority Church of Ireland.

CNA reports that The Association of Trustees of Catholic Schools, Catholic Primary Schools Management Association, and Association of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland have all criticised the proposal.

Ireland’s constitution currently protects the right to a religious education and acknowledges the right of parents to “provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children.”