Press release from The Iona Institute Labour motion on Catholic civil servants “deeply undemocratic”

Press release from The Iona

Labour motion on Catholic civil servants
“deeply undemocratic”

31, 2012 –
  A motion that is to be
debated at Labour’s national conference in April calling for the screening of
senior civil servants dealing with the Catholic Church is “deeply undemocratic”,
The Iona Institute has said today.

According to a
story in today’s Irish Independent, a document called the Clontarf Report is to
be debated at the conference. This document accuses denominational schools of
illegally discriminating against children of other faiths.

In addition,
one of its recommendations is that, “All senior official appointments in State
bodies which are likely to have to deal with the Catholic Church should be
screened to ensure that they will not show inappropriate deference to the
Catholic Church. Those who feel that they are ‘Catholic first and Irish second’
should should have no influence on the control of education.”

Responding to
this, Iona Institute director, David Quinn said today: “The Clontarf Report is
completely mistaken in its assertion that denominational schools are breaking
the law when they admit children of their own faith ahead of other children.
This is explicity permitted, for example by the Equal Status Act. To pretend
otherwise is simply an attempt to bully denominational schools”.

He continued:
“However, the report’s recommendation that senior civil servants should be
screened to ensure that do not show ‘inappropriate deference to the Catholic
Church’ is deeply undemocratic and would amount to a witch-hunt against
Catholics in that it would single out Catholics from among all other civil

recommendation is an echo of the suggestion made in the Dail by Ruairi Quinn in
2009 that some officials in the Department of Education were ‘members of secret
societies such as the Knights of St. Columbanus and Opus Dei’, a suggestion for
which he provided no evidence whatever.

David Quinn
added: “Why not screen civil servants to ensure they are not unduly deferential
towards a given political party, including Labour, or towards some other vested
interest? Where would such a ‘screening’ process stop?”

He concluded:
“The fact that this report has been adopted by the Dublin North-Central
constituency branch of the Labour party is bad enough. If it is somehow adopted
by Labour at its annual conference it would be much worse. Not only should it be
defeated, it should be condemned at the conference”.