School Places For Some, Miniature Tricolours For Others




Kitty Holland detailed the distressing, but not uncommon, experience of an Irish Hindu child’s difficulty in finding a place in her local primary schools. This was due to the fact she is not Catholic. She eventually secured a place in a school half an hour away. In 2016, this same school will receive one of the 3,300 Tricolours and copies of the Proclamation that are being sent to each primary school to mark the Rising. One of the oft-quoted sections of the Proclamation refers to “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”.

Instead of sending a copy of the Proclamation, could the Government not proclaim and legislate for equal education access for all the children of the State?

Miriam Barragry,
Dublin 6.

School patronage (Irish Times letters page)

Previously: Educate Apart

No Faith No Place

Educate Together (Facebook)

Pic: Ireland 1916

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53 thoughts on “School Places For Some, Miniature Tricolours For Others

  1. newsjustin

    That she or her family were not catholic didn’t stop her getting a place at another catholic school that had adequate places. The problem here is that her nearest local school didn’t have enough space for all the local children who’s parents wanted them to attend.

    1. ollie

      Exactly justin. The school is forced to use admissions criteria because of a lack of spaces.Whether religion is the correct criteria is NOT the issue, if it was a lottery, a 100 metre race or shoe size there still wouldn;t be enough places.

      Shame on our government for letting this hapen and for allowing religion to become the issue.

      1. bruce01

        Bit of a red herring seeing as religion IS the admission criteria on which the girl was denied a place. Why not use the distance of the familys home from the school as the ‘arbitrary’ admission criteria instead?

          1. bruce01

            Avatars should be used to suggest inherent bias, thereby reducing my need to engage. Really I should just type statement -> select all -> delete -> go back to work.

          2. Dόn Pídgéόní

            It’s much more fun screaming into the ether at strangers on the internet than working, Everyone knows that.

          1. bruce01

            Please see my above post where I describe this point as ‘a bit of a red herring’. If there aren’t enough places, how does the girl in question get a place in a more distant school? Answer: there are places available. Clearly more schools are needed. However, my point relates to not using this fact to promote the current religion-based arbitrary discrimination in favour of a more suitable one, e.g. proximity of home to school, Ollie.

      2. Barry the Hatchet

        Religion is precisely the issue, Ollie! These people are not angry because their child was denied a place at the local school. They are angry because she was denied a place on the basis that she is not a catholic. They are angry because religion is a fundamentally unfair criterion to use, given that the availability of non-catholic-ethos schools is so p*ss poor. If she had been denied a place because they put her name down too late and the school was already full, this would be an entirely different conversation.

    2. donal

      Yes, the nearest schoold didn’t have space for all who wanted to attend, and thus a selection criterai had to be implemented.
      In many areas of life where demand is greater than supply (and the cost is zero/minimal) the criteria to decide who gets the allocation can be based on a variety fo factors, but none of these is religion. Housing lists are based on first come first served and need, queues in shops are based on who joined the queue first. If schools applied an admission policy based on who was on the list first, with a chance to skip if siblings were already in the school or parents were teachers etc, the accusation of prejudice against non-catholics would be gone.
      This wouldn’t solve the issue of over-subscribed schools in certain areas but would be fairer to all.

      1. ollie

        Donal, as the school isn’t named thier admissions policy isn’t known, but I would bet my house that siblings are prioritised.

        As for the distance criteria suggestion, I’ve served on board of managements where this was applied and it’s impossible to police.
        To reiterate agian my point, there are not enough places at this school to accomodate everyone, this is the issue not religion but it suits FG/Lab to watch people bicker and turn against each other instead of blaming the real cause, lack of places due to lack of money due to the forcing of private bank debt on citizens.

        1. donal

          I didn’t mention distance as a suitable admissibility factor, the postcode lottery in UK and associated localised house price increases are one reason for not thinking that’s a good idea.
          I also said that of course there will be criteria and siblings in school makes sense, as does parent being teacher in school, why force parents to figure out numerous transport options to different schools.
          I agree that the main problem is lakc of places where people want them, and that government can be blamed for this.
          But, being rejected from a place in local school despite having name down for years, and where under siblings/parents criteria there are still places, and finding out at last minute that the new catholic family down the road have the place instead solely by reason of their religion, that is wrong. I’m not saying it is exactly what happened in this case, but it is what the legislation allows for. That is wrong.

        2. cian

          Ollie, Do you know the school in question? yes the school was oversubscribed – but why? Were they all *local* children trying to attend? or are there non-local children?

          The criteria generally used will prioritise baptised children from a different parish that applied yesterday over local non-baptised kids who have had their name down for years. is this fair?

        3. Stewart Curry

          The policy is in the article – Catholic kids get priority

          “The school prioritises applicants in five categories. Catholic children of the parish get first priority, followed by siblings of current pupils, then children of staff, then siblings of pupils in a sister school and finally “non-Catholic children of the parish””

          1. Dόn Pídgéόní

            Seriously, how is that even legal when it’s most schools? It’s mind-boggling! It would be interesting to see what would happen if anyone took a case to the ECHR about it.

          2. Gianni

            State schools are funded by the state ie by tax payers , catholic patrons do not discriminate the money though they discriminate children on the basis of religion , they also discriminate the teachers on the bases of their sexual orientation . In other words we a case of apartheid , a case unique in the western world . Education is a human right and is also a right children are entitled as citizen of the state which has a constitution saying to ” cherish all children equally . How it works in a secular state with a secular school ? Italy for example : State provide free school to all, no discrimination based on religion , places are given based on area of residence. School is run directly by the state and based on state curricula, teachers are selected and hired by the state on the base of studies , knowledge and competences ( their private life is their business ). If catholic parents want a catholic school there are private run school and they pay the fees to the private catholic school as it is their choice and state has offered them free education but they refused. amen

    3. Honeybubbler

      Why have State-funded religious ethos schools at all? No child should be refused a place in any State school because of the schools ethos. State schools should be open to all and it’s immoral that over-subscribed ones can reject a child because of their religion or lack thereof.

  2. Unreconstructed

    I agree with the post. Children should not be segregated based on religion.

    However, the “children” referred to poetically in the phrase in the Proclamation are not actual children but the metaphorical children of Ireland, i.e. everyone born on the island: men, women & children. It is a reference to cherishing Protestants & Catholics equally (as the context of the text will show). The Proclamation also refers to support from “exiled children” in America (2nd paragraph)…somehow I don’t believe Pearse et al. were referring to actual children here…
    The Proclamation was not a constitution and does not make detailed comment on social provision…

    1. DepthChargeEthel

      +1 My PhD had a children’s rights element to it. I began it believing that the proclamation, which even my esteemed Professor supervisor cared to bandy about quite a lot, had some higher meaning. Which of course it doesn’t, it’s just a handy sound bite these days, and has been reinterpreted over the years to demonstrate some imagined pledge to children specifically. Nevertheless, the pledge to cherish all citizens equally has been ignored anyway. The utopian socialist style republic they advocated for back then fell with the first whiff of power for many involved. And so it goes…

      1. Clampers Outside!

        “The utopian socialist style republic they advocated for back then fell with the first whiff of power for many involved.”

        Damn right.

        The whole 1916 commemoration and the recent reburial is enough to make any of them turn in their graves, imo.
        I’m sure, or at least I choose to believe, they would be disgusted to hear that €17m is being spent on the housing crisis and €50m, three times the housing spend, is being spent on a feckin’ party the fallen wouldn’t attend if alive today.

        1. ReproBertie

          The spend on social housing following the budget is not €17m. It’s an increase of €17m to €70m. That €70m is seperate to the funding being provided for 500 modular housing units.

          There’s plenty to beat the government about but lets be accurate in our weapons. €70m on housing Vs €50m on a “aren’t we great because of something some dead people did” party.

  3. Eamonn clancy

    What’s gradually growing is a sense of “My culture is more important that your’s, please adjust your’s so as to accommodate mine.” We need to start saying “No” a lot more often in public than in private. A multi cultural society is aspirational. But it doesn’t work. While most of us welcome immigrants we should expect them to live our way, and if they don’t like it, then shag off.

      1. classter

        This, exactly this.

        Remove Catholicism from schools.

        In the long-term it is better for the Church as well as everybody else.

    1. donal

      What exactly is “our way”?
      I’m a white irish male in 30’s dragged to mass for first 13 or so years of life, very much non-religious now, and I abhor a lot of what I consider Ireland’s cultural and social backwardness. I’m not saying I’m correct, I don’t think there is a correct, but I know lots of people with similar views to mine and lots with different views. We are not a homogenous society, and any attempt to make us one in the past has failed. It is a nonsense to suggest otherwise.

    2. Weedless

      Yeah how dare these people come over here and want their child to go to the local school, where they’ll make friends who live nearby and perhaps engage more in the local community through activities both directly and indirectly related to the school. They should just send their kid further away and keep to themselves all the while taking the blame for the area becoming just a dormitory for commuters with pubs shutting down and local businesses closing. That’s the proper Irish way.

      1. Sido

        The places at the school were allocated, this is a system that applies here and in the UK (that I know of). And is about the efficient usage of available resources.
        I hear what you are saying – you are trying to imply racial discrimination. Or maybe religious discrimination (which I suppose would be another matter given that the school is nominally church owned).

        The question is do you want an “equal” society or a society that applies “positive discrimination” to certain people (i.e. of colour) as in the United States?

        1. Deluded

          We have always had positive discrimination, Sido.
          Every company I have ever worked with has had some form of nepotism or sinecures for the idiot children of golfers.
          I believe it is the fashion now to declare oneself agnostic, in that vein I object to any screed having predominance in school. Educate Together is a fair compromise.

          1. Sido

            Actually, by positive discrimination, I meant the system used in America which started out with the noble intention of integrating Americans of various races by discriminating in favour of racial minorities.
            Forgive me for pointing out, you seem to be discussing an unofficial and unsanctioned system, an “old boy network” – that kind of thing.

            As for your other point – I would agree entirely, Taking religion out of schools should be a priority, though clearly the political will to challenge the church does not exist. Rauri Quinn had a pop and then quit.

          2. Deluded


            Anyway, having mentioned Quinn, I cannot believe it’s so long since Noël Brown and The Mother and Child Scheme.

        2. Weedless

          My reply was in relation to the original post saying we should be asking immigrants to “live our way”. These people are trying to “live our way”. They aren’t sending their kid to a distant school that caters to their faith, they aren’t opting for a private education, they just want their child to be able to attend the local school. The only part of “our way” that I can think they are not adhering to that the original post might be implying is their religion is not Roman Catholic.I think every effort should be made by both immigrants and natives to encourage integration but integration does not require everyone conforming and it definitely shouldn’t require them to convert religion. Even if they did I think it’s becoming more and more inaccurate to assume “our” religion is Roman Catholic.

          I realise that is not always possible with limited school places to attend the nearest school. But there are increasing numbers of stories of people, both immigrants and Irish citizens, not getting into their nearest school due to their religious beliefs. These schools receive state funding and the percentage of schools which are operated by the Catholic church is far higher than the number of people who identify as Catholic. To my knowledge it is much more common in state schools in the UK to prioritise based on proximity to the school which to my mind in no way discriminates against people either positively or negatively since their personal beliefs or backgrounds are not considered.

          As to positive discrimination (as it exists in the US) I think that is a situation that is very particular to the US and its history. I’ve not read much about it but I do know there are reasonable points both for and against it. I also don’t think it is a problem in Ireland with regards to people of colour especially since it typically impacts third level access and not primary and secondary schools (there may be an argument for it in relation to people from poorer backgrounds). This is more about schools being integral parts of communities and why it’s important that proximity is the main deciding factors in access. If people want a community centred around their beliefs they have churches for that.

          1. Sido

            Quite – One major problem put simply, is a secondary education system with “a catholic ethos”.
            Though commenter “newsjustin” says that there were not enough places for local children. Whilst I don’t know the details of the case’ it might well be that this family have just moved into the area.
            There are various criteria that a school can apply in selection (and I speak here with a knowledge of only the UK system, of secondary school selection), some of these will always seem arbitrary and unfair to the parents who do not get their child to the school of first preference.
            I recall when I was living in the UK people would move houses to get their kids to certain schools. If the school is still over subscribed, the “local” stipulation can be used, where people had to have lived in an area for three or four years to call themselves “locals”.

        3. Nially

          How on earth would it be “positive discrimination” for this kid to be considered on the same terms as Catholic kids who live on the same road as her? If she’s too far away, or loses out to kids who meet other non-religious admissions criteria (like having a sibling in the school already, which makes total sense), that’s grand. Unfortunate for the family, but no one has been shut out of a school because of their religion.

          If she, and only she, has to leave her area and go to another one 30 minutes drive away to be educated, purely because of her religion, that’s discriminatory, plain and simple.

          It’s not asking for “special treatment” to not want your kids to be segregated from all of their friends on the basis of their family’s religion!

    3. Declan Madsen

      Who said anything about immigrants? I’m Irish, my son is Irish, but he will face the same discrimination because he is not Catholic. Best you not confuse “your” Irish Catholic monoculture with “our” broader Irish culture.

      As long as schools take taxpayer’s money- including that of non-Catholics- they should be subject to equality laws.

  4. Formerly known as

    If there was a democratic Senate in Ireland, parties could run on important issues like this. A ‘Secular Party’ might threaten to win a few seats, forcing the Establishment to act, to reduce their popularity.

  5. nellyb

    Can parents who can’t get a school place – get a tax rebate? Or ill people who can’t get treatment, but paying for HSE+ ?

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