A Legal Right


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Castletory College in Limerick

You may recall how yesterday RTÉ’s Emma O’Kelly reported a father of a pupil in Limerick secondary school Castletroy College had requested that his daughter be able to opt out of studying religion in the school.

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

But, on further reflection, the school agreed last night to let the girl opt out of the subject.

However, even though she’s now allowed to opt out of the subject, she will still have to remain in the classroom while the subject is being taught.

RTÉ’s Emma O’Kelly writes:

“The school said it had a duty of care towards pupils, who needed to be supervised, and so this student would have to remain in the classroom.”

“But surely a school the size of Castletroy College – with 1,200 students – can provide some kind of alternative to youngsters who do not want to study religion? Surely out of 1,200 students this student is not the only one?

“Other schools have told parents that if they wish their child to opt out they will have to collect the child and care for them for the duration of the religion class. This is clearly unworkable.”

The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism recommended three years ago that the Department of Education develop a protocol to give clarity to primary schools on their responsibilities in this regard. It said the protocol should be accompanied by examples of good practice. This has not happened.

“… At both primary and second-level there appears to be a fear that if opting out of religion is facilitated in any way then it will become attractive, too attractive, even – perhaps – popular.”

“The ‘floodgates’ might open. But where would the harm be in that?”

If this is what parents – the primary educators of their children – want, some of them. If it’s what some young adults in second-level school want. If it’s a legal right, which it is, then surely it’s time the system accommodated that?

Blog: Religious Education opt-out highlights parents’ rights (Emma O’Kelly, RTÉ)

Previously: Simple Solution

80 thoughts on “A Legal Right

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    I dunno. Just sit at the back with your earphones on and do your homework. Such a fuss.

    1. Marian

      The school seems very accommodating. So few teachers and teaching assistants these days. And they’re paid a pittance because the state expects others to do their work on the cheap.

      It seems disproportionate and impractical to accommodate everyone from Pastafarians to Jedis to YEC dinosaur non-believers, etc., etc.

      I resent kids being force fed EU propaganda, green flags, melting ice caps, acid rain, etc. (under the auspices of “geography”) and gay and lesbian, “safe” sex, “gender identity”, etc. (under the auspices of ” social and political education” – how very Orwellian) But sometimes you just have to nod and smile and play the bigger game. Home schooling is always an option. Otherwise, you just have to suck it up and get on with it. Kids will meet all sorts of weirdos and deviants throughout their lives. Better to prepare them than wrap them up in cotton wool.

      1. meadowlark

        I opted out of religion, a decision I made for myself, from fifth year onwards. Our needs were accomodated when our class tutor offered to supervise those of us who opted out by either having us either sit at the back of the classroom while she taught, or have us in the classroom next door and check in us routinely. We did not cause trouble, we just did homework and chatted quietly. The school compromised and met our needs with no fuss on either part.

        1. meadowlark

          I should add that I would have preferred a religion class that did not involve confession services and mass, and a curriculum that was not approaching every religion from a Catholic perspective. As I mentioned in another post here, I’m less than 10 years out of school, and I know for a fact that the curriculum hasn’t changed much since my day. If religion is to be taught it must be from an unbiased position. Anything other than this is just a form of, for lack of a better word, indoctrination.

        2. Caroline


          How my religion teacher would have loved me to sit quietly in another classroom for her class. It would have been all her holiday seasons at once.

      2. Wait For It

        So you have issues with science,safe sex,and tolerance,but not with religion by stealth (must stay in the room,free not to listen).Funny how that works.

  2. Bing Gong Gone

    A core ethos of the college is to educate their pupils in religions that are not their own. Surely this is a good thing?

      1. Marian

        Oh, OK. Replacing absolutism with relativist absolutism is absolutely true absolutely all of the time. All kids should be indoctrinated such. And if you disagree with the One True Universal EU Education Cirriculum (1TUEUEC), social services will be called.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      You may as well have a core ethos to educate pupils about Cinderella, Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Artemis Fowl, The Seven Dwarves and Elizabeth Bennett. They’re all works of fiction too.

  3. Skye

    Surely the child can be supervised by another teacher in heir classroom for 30mins. This is how it worked in my school when I was younger.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Teaching religion is like making love to a… no, wait… Religion is like any other subject, and with any subject kids have a built in capability of zoning out of any subject. Because that’s what Jesus would do.

      You’re welcome.

  4. Lu

    When I was at secondary school (well over a decade ago) we were permitted to opt out with just a parents letter. Supervision was provided for any students who were not in their allocated class for whatever reason in one room. I don’t see why this was such a non-issue in my VEC school but is such a massive deal in this VEC school. In all my time I think I sat in one religion class because I had forgotten to submit my letter for the year – for that one class I ignored the indoctrination and did my homework. There was a similar set up in my primary school.

    1. Marian

      All seems rather civilised. Authentic Christianity and common sense. Imagine that. We need more of it. I know a Muslim family who send their daughter to a Catholic school and it simply isn’t an issue. No school is perfect. Most parents just get on with it.

      1. realPolithicks

        Would you have the same attitude is the position were reversed, and the insistence was on no religious teaching at all? I’m guessing not.

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          @ realPolithicks :

          Is that really your argument? Seriously?
          -NO religious education VS Catholic Indoctrination.
          One or the other?
          Like it or lump it?

          Wow, it’s such a hard choice…
          I’d hate to lead my kids up a garden path.

          Do you have a spare fence that I can sit on?
          -G’wan, I’m sure you have loads o’ dem.

  5. Elena

    In Italy religion is not mandatory in public schools. Generally is one hour per week and my school always did put it either at the beginning or the end of the school day. All students who opt out (like I did) go to school an hour later or go home an hour earlier. Simples. Or even better, scrap the nonsense all together.

      1. Wait For It

        No,it’s religion by stealth since she has to stay in the room while the conversation happens around her.

  6. phil

    I think the issue here, thats totally being missed is the demonisation of floodgates. What wrong with floodgates , I quite like them, in fact they are my favourite type of gate.

  7. Anne

    Tis a bit of a farce really.
    You can opt into subjects like home-ec, pick your language, but you have to sit in on the religion class. Boll*x.

  8. The Old Boy

    Perhaps my upbringing was rather sheltered, but I presumed all schools had supervised prep halls to account for timetable gaps and for when the geography master developed a three-hour ‘flu on a Friday morning.

    1. Caroline

      Ah yes. That all came to an end in the Great Fag Uprising of aught-two. Many a prefect was fed his tuck-box sideways. A very tense Michaelmas was had by all.

          1. The Old Boy

            Ah, how we used to dread being flogged for breathing in without permission and having our hands nailed to the wall on St Tadger’s day.

  9. Kevin

    Are they taught doctrine or religion? Nothing wrong with learning about religious beliefs, pretty essential in fact if you want your kid to understand much of literature, painting, sculpture, the conflict in the Middle East… But if he wants her to grow up ignorant, maybe he should come in and supervise his daughter when she is dodging religion class.

    1. Barry the Hatchet

      It’s not a benign course informing kids objectively about the various different types of religions across the world though. I’m a staunch atheist and I’d be totally fine with that. As you say, it’s good to know from a cultural and historical perspective. But I’ve read a couple of the books used to teach this course in schools and it’s essentially teaching kids that there’s Catholicism …and then there’s everything else. It consistently referred to what “we believe as Christians” which is obviously true and there’s lots of (debunked) historical evidence for it being true. And then it refered to other religions as what “some people” believe. There was literally one line about atheism and it essentially said that some people are atheists because they just don’t have the strength of character to have faith. It’s pretty much crap.

      1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        I was given the same argument at a PT meeting last year, that there was no facility for opting out of religion classes; No supervision.

        It was delivered in such a condescending way that I left it at that.
        It soon transpired that I was dealing with an idiot…
        …in a BIG Dublin school, in a very diverse neighbourhood.

        They AREN’T being benevolent.
        They are far from being understanding.

        (I hated ALL my ‘teachers’ while I was at school. I don’t think things have changed too much. ‘Teachers’ are just people who don’t know how to leave school and / or grow up.)

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          Who’s ever heard of a ‘rebellious’ teacher, one who strays from the agenda?

          Bunch of wamps and winkers.

          Not fit for purpose.

      2. meadowlark

        Barry, sounds like you read my old religion book. I’m less than 10 years out of school. Everything we learned about religion came from a Catholic perspective. You hit it nail on the head.

    2. Formerly known as @ireland.com

      There is plenty wrong with being aught religious beliefs, as they are all rubbish. I have two kids, who I have kept away from all religions. Their life is just fine. They say “Oh my god” from time to time, and that is about as close as religion gets to our lives. We don’t live in Ireland, of course.

      The conflicts in the Middle East are far more tribal and oil related, than religious.

        1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

          More like “F*kin Jaysus”, which is good, cos the Aussies don’t get the accented swearing.

  10. Snickers

    Conform, conform
    Make sure you’re like the norm
    If you want to be Irish Irish
    You got to be Catholic Irish Irish
    Norm norm norm norm norm conform

  11. Malta

    When I was in school, if we had a free class, we were sent to the library unsupervised. Have schools’ duty of care increased dramatically in two decades?

    1. Tighe

      It’s probably not just a duty of care issue but more an insurance/legal requirement. Back in 19-dickety-two our year was allowed to be excused from PE but we had to remain in a classroom unsupervised for the most part. Chaos reigned when the teacher left for a ciggie/quick shot of brandy. Can’t see that happening nowadays to Jack/Emily, it’d be an affront to their human rights..

      1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

        You privileged people
        We had to undress and parade in front of the Head Christian Brother.
        If he didn’t like us we had to join the second queue, where Brother Fintan would decide which of us could go home early.

        Different times Man…
        Different times.

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          I made that up.
          I never made it to the second queue.
          For all I know it never existed.
          -All I know is that I felt special, in a funny kinda way.

          You had to be there. Thankfully you weren’t.

          1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

            I deserve a slap for that.

            Where are the usual warriors who normally charge me, (one at a time), for less?

  12. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    Seriously, this ‘cop=out’ clause, that there’s no facility to supervise kids NOT taking Religion classes, when said classes are only tantamount to Catholic Indoctrination are farcical.

    I understand it.
    It’s Status Quo, minus two riffs.
    (Joke for old people.)

    If you can’t get them when they’re too young to make an educated judgement, when are you going to get them?

  13. All Corrs are Lizards

    enjoy wearing your underpants over your head nerdling, why make a child different in a school 1500. lifes hard enough, useless parents with their stupid opinions thinking they are more important than a school, we have come a long way from the brothers flaking kids but we have lost so much, such as humility and place knowing

      1. All Corrs are Lizards

        ya punctuation going to help this kid and knock some sense into his dumb father, thanks for the heads up

        1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

          I love it when you turn up.
          It’s only ever after I turn up, which is a shameful indication of your intent
          -And you’re always gone the next day..?
          Every night you have a different name.

          I don’t normally reply to you.
          I’m making this one exception.

          Just stop, please.

          I’d beat the crap out of you in an on-line fight. Don’t go there.
          Peace, please.

          1. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

            *a shameful indication of your intent.

            *a shameful indication of your desire.

            You have to excuse me, contrary to the assertion of an idiot on this site a few days ago, I am NEVER sober if I’m on Broadsheet.
            That wasn’t you, was it?

      1. All Corrs are Lizards

        no this comment isnt the reason the parents want their child out or religion class,. if parents want their child is some silly school that teaches their child according to their ala carte nonsense self important beliefs, grand go find one. however this child is in probably the best school in limerick so this parents want their cake and to be able to eat their nonsense belief cake also

  14. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    I gave in to my kids’ peer pressure.
    They made their Communion and Confirmations.

    It shouldn’t be like this.
    That shouldn’t be the easy option, the only option.
    -Say what you like in response, but at the time, believe me, for me it was the ONLY acceptable response at the time. Circumstances etc..)

    We ARE beyond this, as a nation.
    We’re just being held back by a minority that gets smaller by the day.

    Peace out.

  15. Bort

    I went to a Christian Brothers and there was no religion class after Junior Cert. There was very little religion bar a few crosses.

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