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Castletroy College in Limerick

This morning, RTÉ reports that a father of a pupil in Limerick secondary school Castletroy College last week requested that his daughter be able to opt out of studying religion in the school.

His request was rejected and he was told religion is a mandatory subject.

The school is now looking into it further.

RTÉ reports:

“The law states that schools cannot require a student to participate in a subject that goes against their or their parents’ beliefs.”

“The Constitution also gives parents the right to withdraw their children from religious instruction.”

In an interview with RTÉ’s education correspondent Emma O’Kelly on Morning Ireland this morning, Paul D’Arcy, the father of the pupil, said:

“Over the last eight weeks, my daughter has been doing different subject, five or six different subjects, that they call options. You can opt to not do Home Economics, you can opt not to…you pick your language. Why isn’t religion studies dropped into that section of the schooling? Then there’s never a problem. It just becomes an option, simple as that.”



Listen back here

Limerick school to consider religion opt-out request (RTÉ)


63 thoughts on “Simple Solution

  1. John

    Parents are the ones who are ultimately responsible for their child’s education. Not “the state”.

    Part of that responsibility is tending to all dimensions of their upbringing (including religious and non-religious, as appropriate).

    The Catholic Church has provided religious education across all social classes since the foundation of the state. The Catholic Church are leaders in universal access to its services, it’s welcoming position (I.e. authentic multiculturalism as opposed to PC tokenism) and it’s unwavering commitment to its mission.

    What are Atheist Ireland cranks doing but stirring it up on Twitter? (As usual, they’ve been at it for years. Perhaps something might be missing in their lives?)

    Why can’t/don’t these New Atheists and New Secularist absolutists build their own culture, ideology and infrastructure? Stop trying to appropriate the work of others for yourselves. Have you ever thought that the church won’t lend their name and work to you? I guess you have, and want to take it anyway.

    1. ahjayzis

      John, every atheist and non-catholic pays for these Catholic Madrasas to try make good little soldiers of Jesus out of our kids. It’s becoming increasingly untenable and you know it.

      1. han solo's carbonite dream

        you know you may have a point somewhere if you didn’t go “full retard” and use “catholic Madrasas “.
        Because secondary schools in ireland are nothing like a Madrasa but perhaps you don’t know that.

      2. han solo's carbonite dream

        every tax payer pays for stuff they don’t like – it’s the privy of the government to use tax money as tehy see fit.
        I personally object to many of the lobby groups that get grants but have to suck it up

        1. joj

          Youre not forced to sit through an indoctrination of the ‘stuff you don’t like’ though are you? the Catholic church is a vile cult and viscous in its treatment of anyone they consider non belivers

      3. John

        That’s right. It’s the icky Catholics who are unwelcoming and intolerant. The cheek of the enrolling atheists and Muslims. And sitting down with the parents eye to eye.

        1. Annie

          Dress it up however you wish John but a state which claims to be a Republic where over 90% of its primary and secondary education is in the control of the Roman Catholic Church is neither healthy nor desirable. In reality, our Roman Catholic schools are effectively state schools which has led to a bizarre situation where these schools are neither fish nor fowl. By necessity, the religious component is watered down and it simply not comparable religious schools in any other EU state but nor are they secular in nature. They serve neither the needs of those parents who are genuinely religious nor those parents who do not wish religion to encroach on their children’s education. Even the Archbishop of Dublin recognises the situation as untenable and counterproductive for the Roman faith.

          1. John

            You’ve made my point for me (the Archbishop’s stance), but what have “the state” done about it over the last decade or two? SFA. A very Irish solution.

            Yet, the state (and countless ministers gone-by) are only too happy to sit back and let the icky catholics pick up the tab for a cheapo education system that doesn’t service the needs of the population and screws over those working in it (20 and 30 -something teachers scraping a living doing a few hours a week while on the dole). Yet when the church are asked to help, they help without question and ask for nothing in return. If they ask to be left alone with their religion and their independent thought (imagine that, a church with beliefs, precepts and teachings for which they don’t have to ask for permission from “the state”), the Irish Times and the Twitterati are unleashed on them as if they were Jews in Germany in the 1930s.

          2. Annie

            Liam, I’ll leave aside the risible and redundant, except in your fevered mind, surrendering to a persecution narrative, debasing the fate of the Jews in Nazi Germany, which have no equivalence in Ireland’s debate to at least offer some form of choice to parents and the children in Irish education, to reiterate that a system which places the Roman Church in a position of overwhelming dominance in education serves the needs of no one, not even those parents of a genuinely religious hue.

            Schools run by the Roman Catholic Church can knock themselves out with ethos as any other denominational school only when there are proper alternatives (or a proper alternative) available to parents who do not share that ethos in centres of population. As it stands, these schools cannot overdo emphasis on ethos in the same way as other religious schools in EU states as in Ireland, they are effectively state schools, run overwhelming courtesy of state funding. These schools already implicitly understand this hence the watered down ethos and studious avoidance of giving anyone a possible cause of action under S.37. The Roman Church did not take over the education system as a purely altruistic gesture at the foundation of the state, rather they were well aware this was a perfect way of ensuring control of the population and dominance of the Roman Church in yet another facet of the state.

            I do agree that parents are the ones who should have the greater say but trumpeting surveys where only a minority of parents are bothered to respond and of those the most religiously inclined replied, does not give a full or even proper picture of what parents actually desire. Admittedly, most parents have a lot on their daily plates rather than agitating for change when our state Roman schools do not really peddle a sort of religious ethic that would perhaps force them to consider what parents really want for their children.

            I have no doubt balance in education will come in our Republic, slowly and perhaps with great resistance on the part of orthodox Roman Catholics, but when it does come, those in Roman schools will perhaps have a better and more robust appreciation of the tenets of their faith. Until this happens, we are left, correctly as you put it, with a curiously Irish solution that serves the needs of no one.

          3. John

            Hi Annie. You should go to Rome some time. You might even enjoy yourself. You might even lose the habit of sticking “Roman” in front of Catholic like a deluded Northern Ireland young earth creationist who refuses to believe in dinosaurs.

          4. Annie

            Liam, the name of the dominant religion in Ireland is Roman Catholic, i.e. the Church of Rome, Rome now being the seat of St Peter and the Petrine Ministry..etc, etc. Would RC for short do you? You do appreciate that the term “catholic” is not the exclusive preserve of the Roman Catholic Church?

            In any event, what a nice diversion to refuse to address my points Liam.

            Oh, and I have been to Rome, many times, a fantastic city, even enjoyed the riches and treasures of the Vatican Museums although I do think that the RC Church pulled a fast one with the Lateran Pact but that’s for another day…

          5. John

            How very “RC” of you.

            Since Benedict’s ordinariate, the phrase has less relevance. But I guess you were just demonstrating to us all that you’re not an icky Catholic, right?

            My best friend is a Protestant, my granny lived next door to a Protestant couple all her life. I have been to a Protestant wedding, I’ve lived in the UK, yet I haven’t come across someone so contemtuous and small-minded as you in a long while. The last one was a YEC from Idaho. You’re on here night and day flailing against the “Roman Church”. Just what is the problem?

          6. Annie

            That’s right clever clogs I am out to persecute “icky” Roman Catholics just like all of those calling for a smidgen more balance in the Irish education system, dominated to an unhealthy and abnormal extent (for both believers and non believers alike) by one church, funded unlike religious schools in all other EU states, by the Irish taxpayers.

            If we are talking of small-mindedness might I ask you to heal yourself first given that you deigned to risibly and fatuously compare the whole situation above with that of the Jews in 1930s Germany. And you call me small-minded?

            On your bike.

        2. manolo

          Most people would be intolerant of state funded monopolies that discriminate against minorities. Momentum is growing in this awareness. It will be a great day when public education becomes independent of any religion.

          1. Annie

            I genuinely think most parents aren’t really that bothered. The majority subscribe to a loose form of Roman Catholicism – a cultural catholicism if you like. Communions and confirmations are more rights of passage, in the same way as a Debs and for most the religious element is ironically ancillary. Religion classes are really a glorified civics class with a light touch religious ethos, except perhaps in the realm of abortion where a certain line is followed doggedly by most schools. The little ones, however, aren’t coming home choc-full of religious zeal and most parents are happy and go along with the status quo. If Roman Catholic schools started taking a more hardline approach to ethos to become proper religious schools, it might force more parents to think about whether they want denominational education for their children but currently most aren’t bothered to even respond to surveys.

            The Iona Institute constantly trumpet the fact that most parents in the state still “desire” denominational education but as is usual with Iona and David Quinn one must look behind these surveys whereupon one finds that only a tiny minority of parents bother to respond to the surveys and as they are more often than not more religious, they are keen on denominational education. The majority just couldn’t be arsed which in my opinion is down to a one-size fits all watered down Roman Catholic education system.

          2. FreshFish

            Annie I contend that this isn’t reason to continue to allow the state funding of an oppressive fundamentalist religious school ethos

    2. Caroline

      Sure why would we bother, when we can make just enough fuss and create just enough of a headache to force a series of half-assed compromises that ultimately leverage the passivity of the average Irish parent in our favor, chipping away slowly at the status quo and trusting that only the most slavering extremists actually object, until finally those in a position to resist have shriveled away in defeat. An Irish solution to an Irish solution to an Irish problem. Anything else would be unpatriotic.

    3. DubLoony

      “The Catholic Church has provided religious education across all social classes since the foundation of the state. ”

      The church has perpetuated class division since the foundation of the state.
      You think the boys of Clongowes had the crap beaten out of them by Jesuits, like the working class poor boys of Christian Brothers did? Religion taught leadership at the top and obedience to “betters” at the bottom.

      1. classter

        ‘You think the boys of Clongowes had the crap beaten out of them by Jesuits, like the working class poor boys of Christian Brothers did?’

        Yes, they did. The Jesuits may not have been the worst but plenty of the more ‘well-to-do’ orders were particularly vicious. They were toughening the charges up for leadership. ‘Spare the rod & spoil the child’, etc.

        You are right about class division – the orders are are a very finely calibrated class system.

    4. JLK

      I don’t understand why kids are forced to sit in RE if not Catholic….the universal access comes at this cost? It was always a boring class so can’t imagine what it must be like if not Catholic or have no religion. It would be a better class if it educated on all religions for knowledge & understanding of others beliefs.
      I got an exemption from doing Irish half way through secondary school, also a mandatory subject, and sat in the library for all Irish classes. It wasn’t a big deal nor should this.

    5. Barry the Hatchet

      “The Catholic Church are leaders in universal access to its services, it’s welcoming position and it’s unwavering commitment to its mission.”

      I’ve read this seven or eight times and I still don’t have a bloody clue what it’s supposed to mean.

    6. Formerly known as

      John, if you want religion, knock yourself out – all day Saturday and Sunday, if you like. However, school is about education. Religion has no place in education.

      Keeping kids free of stupid ideas like ‘the holy trinity”, hell – has that been dropped from the latest revision of the Catholic Church’s teachings, is a lot harder if they are being indoctrinated in school.

      1. meadowlark

        Would a world cultures class not make more sense? Religion is for the home, but would teaching young people about other cultures not be more effective and less contentious?

          1. meadowlark

            No. That is not what I said. Kindly don’t put words in my mouth. I said religion is for the home. Which, in my opinion, it is. It is a personal thing and should have no place within a state body, school, hospital, government building etc. Religious education should begin at home and then, if it is your choice, in a church, temple, synagogue, mosque whatever. It is not for the classroom. That is what I meant.

          2. John

            How do you propose restricting fundamental thoughts and ideas to a specific list of pre-defined buildings? Who determines the list and how will it be kept up-to-date?

          3. meadowlark

            I think it’s pretty simple actually. In a hospital, for example, a doctor or nurse should not allow their personal religious beliefs to interfere with best possible practice. A politician should not allow their religion to sway them from what is best for their country. A state school should not allow religion to interfere with the moulding of young minds. By this I mean, that children should be given the information to decide for themselves, not be taught beliefs as fact. However, humans do not act perfectly, mistakes are made and bias finds its way into every aspect of life. so there is no way of enforcing this. But a start is ensuring that religion does not interfere with the state, and all of the attendant state bodies.

    7. joj

      Most retarded thing I’ve read in quite a while. ‘You don’t like tax funded catholic indoctrination at public schools, then set up your own state and schools and tax infrastructure’

      And of course, ‘maybe somethings missing from their life?’

      yes not being brainwashed into believing in the magic man in the sky

    8. dan

      That’s some impressive doublethink right there. The Church’s power is completely based in the indoctrination of it’s members, and indoctrination is easiest with the young.
      The idea that teaching kids that 3=1 is educational is ridiculous. In fact the idea that you can be educated about a subject predefined as being beyond human understanding is just completely absurd.
      Religious indoctrination, and any other form of ideological indoctrination shouldn’t be part of education.

    9. Annie

      John – your real name isn’t Liam by any chance? Very similar style of phrase to a certain twitter user and “defender of the faith”?

  2. Disasata

    In this country: boy rape, unexplained baby deaths and a poor choice of schools.
    Worldwide: rape and war.

    That is all.

    1. Casey

      So all you have is the superpower of not being able to make a clear point?

      #PointlessMan – comes in a flash, sprouts gibberish and flounces off in a flurry of self-satisfaction

    2. Cup of tea anyone

      Good people do good things
      Evil people do Evil things
      But it takes religion to make a good person do evil things.

      – some guy from down the road –

  3. John Joe Nevin

    Pretty sure that religion is studied as a subject rather than getting into the whole “worship god” thing.

    1. manolo

      So why is my daughter being sold the idea of preparing for her first ‘holy’ communion in the classroom, during school time?

        1. manolo

          I was addressing the point you made, not the story. Why the distinction in your point between primary and secondary? Is it OK to indoctrinate in primary only?

  4. meadowlark

    I went to a non – denominational secondary school that had morning prayers, religion classes, confessional services, Christmas mass, Easter mass and start-of-school-year mass. Go figure.

    1. bisted

      …the Educate Together schools are multi-denominational rather than non-demoninational which means they facilitate several flavours of ‘cranks’ to stalk the corridors.

  5. Barry the Hatchet

    In light of this story and the fact that the local Bishop is a joint patron of the above-mentioned State school, I’m just going to leave this link here. The Irish Examiner is still doing Trojan work on the mother and baby homes story, and the Church’s similarly Trojan efforts to resist all State interference (while of course continuing to accept State funds).

  6. gorugeen

    religious instruction v religious education. Kids need to learn about difference/same given the world we live in. Hindu, Judaism, atheism……..As a bear would say, they all taste like chicken. BUT, not compulsively.

  7. The Lady Vanishes

    Religion cannot be a mandatory subject under the Constitution without the State violating its constitutional guarantee to freedom of religion.

    There is no guarantee of freedom of language but people are entitled to a trial in their own language similarly at the very least people should be entitled in so far as practicable to schooling which is not incompatible with their own religion.

    You’d think with the consequences of education in Ireland having been left to the religious (rampant child sexual abuse and consequent depression crippling Irish economic and cultural life) the State would have been shocked out of its laziness in delegation.

    Some hope. The old guard are still there.

  8. dave

    As the parent of an ex-pupil of this school and a current pupil, I feel it is important to point out that this is a progressive, non denominational school whose ethos is the holistic approach to children’s education.
    Religion as taught in the current curriculum is about informing young people of the differences of ideology and theology out there and not an R.C. doctrine. They learn about Judaism, Hindu, Islam etc.

    1. Mikeyfex

      Thanks for clearing that bit up, I was surprised to read this about Castletroy College, of all schools, this morning.

      1. meadowlark

        Dave, just wondering, for the basis of comparison, if this school holds Mass for the pupils at various times of the year, along with confession services etc., similar to my own experience in a non-denominational school? I am simply curious, if you wouldn’t mind answering.

    2. Cup of tea anyone

      This is a great point.
      It just says that the subject was religions. It does not say it is about Christianity.I believe that world religions should be thought at schools. If everyone had learned the difference between all the religions at school you might have less incidents where scum attack Muslims after a terrorist attack.

  9. Mario Balotelli

    It’s 2015 in a western European democracy and yet children can be turned away from their local tax-funded school on Religious grounds. This nonsense will be gone within 5 years, has to be surely.
    It’ll take a legal challenge or it’ll take more parents to grow-a-pair and not simply baptise their children to get them into school. Or, possibly, or government might cop-on and actually do something beyond bowing and scraping to the bloody Catholic Church.

  10. Yorick

    I spoke recently to a person I gather is one of the most hard-left people in Ireland (I’m guessing, due to the very small political party he was a member of). He talked a bit about how people on the left stay relatively quiet on the issue of the Catholic Church’s domination of education in Ireland. This was for one reason in particular that surprised me, but got me thinking: Catholic patronised schools are acting as a bulwark against privatisation.

    Privatisation is wreaking havoc in education in the USA and the UK, sustaining and increasing inequalities. I certainly would advocate for an absolutely secular education system. In a political landscape sliding ever-rightward, how long would that remain a public service? I think this country would be more likely to follow the US model than have an egalitarian public education model. We’d end up swapping dogma for widespread inequality, one problem for another. How do we achieve secularisation without indirectly laying out a welcome mat for privatisation?

    1. Caroline

      I’ve already outlined what I think will be the inevitable approach but I’ll illustrate it using a Star Wars analogy for the afternoon that’s in it.

      We slit catholic education open like the belly of a tauntaun. Then we scoop out the guts, but not in an alarming fashion. We just hold up bits of viscera and say “Who wants this?” and then when no one really says ‘I do!’ very loudly, we gently put them aside. We repeat this until nothing is left, then we climb inside the empty husk and hide out to escape the horrors of privatisation.

        1. Casey

          There are more things in Heavan and Earth than are dreamth of in my philosophy… (literally just learned that!)

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