More than half of Irish people believe that religious education should be part of the school day, according to a new poll.
The findings come after suggestions made by RTE that the Catholic Church had sought to impose separate religion classes during school hours on three new VEC-run schools. Senior education figures for the Church vigorously denied these allegations.
The survey, conducted by MRBI for the Irish Times, showed that 51pc of all adults disagreed with the suggestion that religious education be taught outside school hours.
The findings tally with a recent poll carried out by the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) and conducted by Red C, which found that 67pc of parents with children under 16, when asked when preparation and instruction for the sacraments should be taught, agreed that it should be taught within school hours,
Only 31pc said it should be taught outside the school day.
The MRBI survey also showed that nearly half, 48pc, of all adults believed that the Catholic Church's management of primary schools had been positive for the country. Thirty one per cent disagreed.
The poll also showed that a plurality, 49pc, of adults think that education should be non-denominational, although the results did not show whether parents agreed with this.
Twenty seven percent disagreed, while 24pc expressed no opinion.
The IPPN poll, published last month, showed that for adults with no dependent children, 64pc said that children should receive sacramental instruction during school hours, with 34pc disagreeing, and two percent having no opinion or not answering.
The survey, also found that 27pc of parents with children under 16 wanted their children to attend a Catholic school. Twenty per cent of adults without children said they would send their children to a Catholic school.
Among all adults, 23pc indicated that they would choose to send their children to a Catholic school.
In a RedC poll commissioned by the Iona Institute in 2008, showed that 47pc of all adults would opt for a Catholic school given a choice of schools.