Getting Schooled



Anything good in The Guardian this week?

“Irish law allows state-funded schools to turn away children and discriminate in enrolment on the basis of religion. Section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act 2000 states that schools operated by religious institutions can favour children of their own denomination in enrolment – despite the fact they are entirely funded by taxpayers. In Ireland, about 90% of primary schools are controlled by the Catholic church (most of the remainder are under the patronage of other religious institutions), so this can fairly and accurately be called the “Catholics first” law – though in my experience most Catholics, including my close friends and relatives, consider it repugnant….”

Ireland’s ‘Catholics first’ school enrolment makes dads like me despair (Paddy Monahan, Guardian)

Instead of starting school last month, Reuben Murphy found himself back in his Dublin nursery for another year as his mother, Nikki, re-embarked on her quest to find a place at a local state primary for her four-year-old son.

She has already applied to 15 schools. But, following rejections from nine last year, Murphy is far from confident that a place will be found for Reuben. In a country where more than 90% of state schools are run by the Catholic church, unbaptised children like him are at the bottom of their admissions lists.

No baptism, no school: Irish parents fight for equal access to education (Harriet Sherwood, Guardian)

Previously: Educate Apart





Thanks Richard T

43 thoughts on “Getting Schooled

    1. scottser

      the EU have their eye on removing barriers to trade. they’d see charging for education a great way to resolve the issue of discrimination.

  1. Mr. T.

    I think anyone working for a state body or one funded by state should be fired for making a decision based on religious allegiance over and above the state’s duty to the citizen.

  2. Iwerzon

    This needs to be addressed right now – nationalise church property immediately, most of which has dubious deeds anyways.

    1. ahjayzis

      Compulsory purchase them. Deduct the costs the state has incurred carrying out all works and any maintenance plus all the running costs for the last X decades of the sites operation.

      Sectarianism has no place in the classroom.

  3. Neilo

    We all know that the primary schools are sometimes less fussy outside the Pale. The less populated areas would enroll Satanist kiddies to keep the numbers up.

  4. nellyb

    I think this bit in article is quite apt:
    “A church spokesperson said it was “not the function of the Catholic church to provide education for all of Irish society” and it was “unfortunate that Catholic schools are simply not big enough to cater for the numbers who wish to enroll”. The Irish government should consider building more schools or extending existing ones, said a spokesperson.”
    This leads to scenario where tax collections must change based on religious affiliations. These who are active practicing catholics declare so to the revenue, so the tax is deducted as usual, but these who aren’t – should be allowed to withhold a portion of tax for primary education until state provide a place in school and then pay the balance due.
    Or we stop financing primary education all together and make ALL people pay for schools of their choice. I assume that catholic schools will have no problem to teach disadvantaged catholic children for free. But then who will teach disadvantaged and unbaptized for free?
    [Money spent on amateur billing company called Irish Water would have taken care of a school or two.]

    1. Nessy

      “This leads to scenario where tax collections must change based on religious affiliations. These who are active practicing catholics declare so to the revenue, so the tax is deducted as usual, but these who aren’t – should be allowed to withhold a portion of tax for primary education until state provide a place in school and then pay the balance due.”

      Something similar to that is in place in Sweden. If you’re a Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim etc. you must pay 1% of your income extra to help pay for your church’s or religion’s activities which include schools. Many other countries in the EU have a similar tax. If we’re ever to break away from the abysmal Catholic church and if we’re ever to prevent the church from interfering and denying a child an education based on their atheism, we’d need something similar. Either that or compulsory purchase the sh*t out of all their property and send them to the hedges again!

      1. nellyb

        Good one. So, there is a civilized, tried and tested solution to it, but none of our main parties bothered to do a case study… Thanks for that, Nessy

        1. ABM's Bloodied Underwear

          The argument that “every other country has that charge, so why shouldn’t we?” with regards to water rates doesn’t seem to be trumpeted as much by the politics here on this issue.

      2. Neilo

        Confiscation isn’t really a goer from the legal standpoint, maybe? The Church is running out of funds because of natural wastage of both clergy and congregations: collections at many Masses are a fraction of their 70s and 80s peak.

        1. nellyb

          I don’t think Nessy meant confiscation, but CPO which is legal under Irish law (provided lawyers arguing are worth their salt). Bertie, Enda et al. are considered good negotiators – I am sure they could set up talks with bishops and hammer out an interim solution without CPOs.
          Or are they not that great of negotiators after all?

          1. Neilo

            The Church would demand a high, high price for buildings and land. We just need to open a few uranium mines and Ireland Inc will be good to go with the buyout :)

          2. Cian

            CPO requires paying the market value of the properties. We’ll functionally never be able to afford that.

            I suspect a better idea is simply to put a moratorium on new Catholic schools, and declare that in future we will not increase the size of existing schools. Then we should be able to deal with the issue in most places by opening new schools (since we need a whole bunch of those *anyway*.

  5. meadowlark

    Outrage! Discrimination… mumble mumble… Down with this sort of thing… grumble grumble…

    Sigh. I just don’t have the energy today. Feckin head cold.

    It’s a pain in the bum, really. The state funded school discrimination thing, not the head cold, that is.

  6. Bonkers

    What all this shows is Ruari Quinns policy of school divestment didn’t work. He needed to grab the bull by the horns and re-jib the Equality Act instead of teetering around on the fringes.

    We’re only going to see more and more of these protests from those who refuse to baptise their kids.

    “The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” Yeats

    1. newsjustin

      Your talking about two different things there – divestment and the Equality Act. They’re not related. Ruari Quinn failed because he had a similar scattergun outlook – appeal to the RCC and school communities for divestment while at the very same time talking about how he was going to water down the ethos of religious schools that weren’t divested. Of course he failed!!

  7. olie

    The government has failed to provide sufficient school places in the locations they are needed. This is the fault of FG/Labour, NOT the church.
    What about the fact that schools that fall under the remit of the church receive less funding that other schools, where’s the equality there?

    1. ahjayzis

      A town of 2000-5000 people needs one school.

      It’s usually a Catholic school at present.

      The solution is not 5 or 10 more Protestant, Sikh, Hindu, Secular, Muslim, Jedi schools for 2000 people, it’s one school that takes everyone without a sectarian charter.

      You’re arguing for sectarianism. The State funds ALL primary schools, if you want a faith-exclusive school it should be funded purely by the believers who benefit or we’re not worthy of the name Republic.

  8. 15 cents

    its embarassing how much the catholic church have a control over various facets of our society. the only thing that stops the government changing it is that they dont want to lose the holy joe vote .. which in itself is also gross, that as a government they don’t want whats best for the public, they just want power.

  9. newsjustin

    Politicians tend to make policy according to what voters tell them they want. If people who vote for them want religious schools (or free pizza or a shorter working week) that’s what will tend to happen.

    1. scottser

      politicians never make policy according to what voters want. they make policy to suit their vested interests and this is reinforced by the party whip system. this is how candidates get elected on local issues like saving your local hospital and then have to sell the closure of same back to their constituents. the church is a very powerful lobby. an unelected, unaccountable blight on democracy, like all powerful lobbies.

  10. tomkildare

    what a load of liberal crap!!! the reason they are the schools people want to send there children too is because they are good settled schools that discriminate on entry. The majority want to go to them, instead of local educate together school because it is better. the educate together schools are too diverse with children of too many cultures and languages. why ruin the the better schools to have them like the rest. there is very little left to the irish culture.

    i send my child to a good one in dublin and don’t want to see it ruined. i don’t care about religion but its the discrimination makes that makes it a good school.

    1. Oh Dear

      I’m not sure you’re such a great example of Catholic school teaching based on that spelling and grammar.

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