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New poll on Catholic schools ignores the rights of parents

Press release by The Iona Institute 

January 25, 2009 


New poll on Catholic schools ignores the rights of parents


A NEW POLL published in The Irish Times today indicates that a clear majority of the public wants the Catholic Church to give up control of its primary schools. However, the poll ignores the right of parents to send their children to a publicly-funded school of their choice.

A poll conducted last summer by Red C on behalf of The Iona Institute, shows that the overwhelming majority of people (72 percent) support the principle of parental choice with regard to schools.

Commenting on The Irish Times poll, Iona Institute director, David Quinn, said: “The real question isn’t whether the Church or the State should control our primary schools, but what do parents want? This question must always be front and centre in this debate.

“The right of parents to have their children educated according to their own beliefs is enshrined in both domestic and international law. There are undoubtedly too many Catholic schools at present compared to the real level of demand for them, but nonetheless publicly-funded denominational schools have a right to exist.”

He continued: “This isn’t an ‘either/or’ issue, that is, it isn’t a question of either the Church or the State running our schools. Instead, and within reason, there should be different kinds of publicly-funded schools reflecting the wishes of parents, as there is in England where a third of publicly-funded schools are denominational.”

The Red C poll commissioned by The Iona Institute asked respondents to choose between two statements and found the following results: 


  1. ‘In a modern society all publicly-funded schools should be run by the State’ – 25 percent choose this statement.
  2. ‘Parents should be allowed the right to choose from a variety of publicly-funded schools for their children, including Church-run schools’ – 72 percent choose this statement.


A previous Red C for The Iona Institute, conducted in April 2008, also asked people what kind of school they would send their children to, given a choice.Exactly half said they would send their children to a denominational school.



Notes to Editors 

1.      The Iona Institute promotes marriage and religion in society. 

Contact details:

David Quinn, Director of The Iona Institute: 087 982 9910


Phone: 01 6619 204           Email: info@ionainstitute.ie [1]               Website: www.ionainstitute.ie [2]