Bruton speech latest in a series of moves against faith schools

Press release from The Iona Institute 

Bruton speech latest in a series of moves against faith schools

January 16, 2016 – The speech delivered today by Education Minister, Richard Bruton, signalling changes to the admissions policy of faith schools, is part of a wider pattern of moves against faith schools, The Iona Institute has said. It is a pattern that amounts to a hostile attitude.

Iona Institute Director, David Quinn, stated: “There are certainly too many Catholics schools in Ireland and this must change because Ireland is changing. The right of Catholic and other faith schools to automatically prefer children of their own faith over children of other faiths and none, in the event of over-subscription, is something that can be amended. However, the speech by Minister Bruton, in which he flags this proposal, is only the latest in a series of moves by this Government and the last which are seeking to severely limit the rights of faith schools”.

Quinn continued: “Under the last Government, the employment rights of faith schools were weakened and the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, established by Ruairi Quinn, went so far as to recommend that faith schools could not give special prominence to the religious symbols of their own faiths on school property, that prayers be made more ‘inclusive’, and that the teaching of religion be restricted to the start or end of the school day.

“Minister Jan O’Sullivan under the last Government abolished Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools which helps protect the right of faith schools to permeate the day with the religious ethos of the school, and more recently there is a proposal to force faith schools to teach a course called ‘Education about Religion, Beliefs and Ethics’.

Quinn concluded: “Now we have this new proposal with regard to admissions policy outlined by Minister Bruton this morning. There is no doubt that more provision must be made for parents who do not wish to send their children to a denominational school, but when you put together all that this Government and the last Government have done, or propose to do, it indicates a large degree of hostility to faith schools that the various faith communities ought to note this and taken action to protect their rights.”