Catholic presence in State-run multi-denominational schools to be downgraded

State secondary schools must phase out a range of Catholic influences such as mandatory graduation masses, the display of exclusively Catholic symbols, and visits from diocesan inspectors. There is no indication that parents have been consulted about this.

The new rules will apply to more than 200 secondary schools run by the State’s Education and Training Boards (ETBs) – formerly vocational schools – which are officially categorised as multidenominational.

The “framework for the recognition of religious belief/identities of all students in ETB schools” outlines steps schools should follow to bring them into line with a multidenominational ethos. They include that any religious symbols on display must reflect the beliefs of the wider school community rather than one particular religion. It also means schools that symbolically represent religious celebrations should ensure balance, such as a school displaying a crib at Christmas but also Islamic symbols for Eid.”