‘We Want Catholic Schools To Be Really Catholic’



From top: Patrick Treacy and April Duff

Further to new proposals that would entail the Deaprtment of Education ‘encouraging‘ the Catholic Church to transfer patronage of primary schools.

Patrick Treacy SC, of new lobby group ‘Faith in our Schools’ and April Duff, chairperson of Education Equality, spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning.

Mr Treacy, who runs a ‘domestic centre of Christian spiritually’ called Integritas, in Stoneyford, Co. Kilkenny, argued that he actually wanted more divestment.

Patrick Treacy: “We’re in favour of divestment because we want Catholic schools to be really Catholic, and Protestant schools to be really Protestant. And what we believe is that when parents start to see Catholic schools and Protestant schools really living out the Christian philosophy and understanding…”

Seán O’Rourke: “And are there Protestants in your group?”

Treacy: “Well, for instance, my wife is Protestant and just to say this, I have four children. And my three sons are Catholic and my daughter is  Protestant and we send all of our four children to an Educate Together school and we actually live through the very thing that April is talking about and it’s an absolute superb school in Kilkenny. But the problem is, we know from experience that what April is actually suggesting doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Because what Catholic schools need to learn from Educate Together, which is a huge gift, that Educate Together give is that they really show you the importance of parental involvement. That’s what we’ve got to bring in, in particular to Catholic schooling. We’ve got to move away from this mentality that the parent is left outside the school gate. The parent has got to come right into the school but the problem is, is  that we need Catholic and Protestant schools to permeate the ethos throughout the invisible pedagogy, so to speak, throughout the entire working day, or sorry, the entire school day, I should say.”

O’Rourke: “What do you say that to that, April?”

April Duff: “I think the main point to make is that we don’t live in an ideal world. And, even if we did, we couldn’t have a Muslim school and a Hindu school and a Jewish school and a Scientology school in every single area where there is one child. So this idea that you have a right to be educated in accordance with a particular religious belief and for that to be the only, the only ethos that’s within that school, just isn’t sustainable because you can’t have that for every single religious belief and every…”

O’Rourke: “So on the basis of that logic then, there should be no schools based on any particular ethos, except where there’s a sufficient population to allow for one  for everybody in the audience, as it were.”

Duff: “No the school should cater for everybody. I mean, remember, the purpose of schools is to educate. We’re talking about education here. These aren’t religious institutions, they’re educational institutions, they’re institutions to educate people. Remember, those schools are paid for by the taxes, sorry, by the taxpayer and people – atheist parents, Muslim parents and Catholic parents – all pay the same taxes. So the schools simply have to accommodate everybody and have to respect religious freedom of everyone. And the current system simply does not respect religious freedom. Because, first of all, you’re penalised in accessing school because, if the school is oversubscribed, you won’t get in unless you have a baptismal cert or if you don’t belong to the right religion. So you’re penalised for the exercise of your religious right at that point and then, once you’re in the school, you don’t have a right to continue your religious belief without another…”

O’Rourke: “OK..”

Duff: “…religion being imposed on you.”

O’Rourke: “Brief response to that, Patrick Treacy.”

Treacy: “Well just to say, unfortunately, there’s been a gross exaggeration of the position in relation to the baptism requirement. The actual position there is that only 1.6% of Catholic primary schools have an oversubscription problem – 3.69% in Dublin. That’s the first thing, the second…”

O’Rourke: “But it doesn’t get away from her substantial point that she makes about what the children are subjected to, if you like – and I know that’s probably a loaded phrase – in the course of the school day.”

Treacy: “Well can I just say this, let’s just be clear about one thing we can all agree on too. The word education comes from the Latin ‘edu cara’. It means to ‘lead out’. Now you either accept that your child is a spiritual being or that your child is not a spiritual being. The vast, vast, vast majority of parents believe that their child is spiritual, all right? So if you want to create a schooling system that denies the spiritual basis of the child, that in my view is not education.”

There you go now.



The debate followed an interview on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland with Education Minister Richard Bruton.

Mr Bruton spoke about the Government’s plans to transfer patronage of primary schools from the Catholic church.

During the interview, presenter Gavin Jennings reminded Mr Bruton that there are more than 3,000 primary schools in Ireland and 90% of them are still run by the Catholic church.

Mr Bruton said:

We are committed to trebling the rate at which there is new options emerging, with a target of 400 schools which would be, you know, multi-denominational, over the next 15 years. So that would be trebling the rate at which we develop new options for people.”

Mr Jennings also asked Mr Bruton how many Catholic primary schools had been divested so far. Mr Bruton said 11 while Mr Jennings said some reports claim that the figure is just two.

In addition Mr Jennings asked Mr Bruton if schools will continue to be allowed to prioritise pupils on the basis of their religion.

Mr Bruton replied:

“The provision in the existing bill, there’s a lot of valuable things there and I think it’s very important to say what’s in it. It provides that there must be a written policy, it provides that children with special needs cannot be discriminated against, it provides that parents must, you know, be consulted in respect of any changes in that policy. Parents must have an opportunity to review, there can’t be discrimination in different areas.”

“Now the issue of whether an oversubscribed school, that is a religious ethos, can, if you like, choose a child of a religious background over those of a non-religious background, that is a thorny issue which the last committee recognised, raised, you know, difficult Constitutional issues.”

“And I will have to sit down with colleagues in the Oireachtas to discuss how we handle that because we don’t have a majority. There will be different views on how to handle this and indeed whether it can be done within the Constitution. But that will be something that I will sit down and discuss with others in the Dáil so that we can have not just the good elements of the existing admissions bill but have a debate about that issue as well.”

Listen back here

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118 thoughts on “‘We Want Catholic Schools To Be Really Catholic’

  1. Starina

    so this religious t#t is taking up four spaces in the Educate Together school that could be going to someone who couldnt get into the catholic school?!

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Insisting they be taught about fairy stories as facts and being told they’re part of a tribe that is different to other tribes is a bad thing.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        Insisting on maintaining, and even increasing, the religious ethos of schools, and then using Ed Together when there is a shortage of places…… yeah, there’s something at odds in that. Cake and eat it stuff.

      3. The Key of G

        Depends. I’m sure I wouldn’t want my kids within an asses roar of yours for example.

  2. fluffybiscuits

    Schools represent the last vestige of catholicism in Ireland in a sense of a place where indoctrination of youngsters can begin. The church has long ceased to be any sort of credible force in Irish society having been removed from spheres of influence in health, law making (still there to a certain point) and through social care. Throwing out the line of “And, even if we did, we couldn’t have a Muslim school and a Hindu school and a Jewish school and a Scientology school in every single area where there is one child” seeks to lump together all those with Scientology I think to undermine them, Scientology is a business not a religion. Furthermore he makes the point the schools are about education – they are and learning religion is not part of any education of substance, languages and science and English are. What made the government roll back on the bill and stop the archaic practice of giving places to people of certain religion? Bruton gives the typical political answer…

    1. classter

      Whether you include Scientology or not, the basic point stands.

      Are we going to create separate national schools for each & every religious faith?

      That may have been ok when almost everybody was nominally Catholic, Protestant or Jewish. But as Ireland becomes more diverse & in terms of origin & belief, this will be a massive issue.

      What does it do for integration if Muslim children are going to Islam-ethos schools & Hindi children likewise?

      1. Cian

        I think you’re being very bigoted lumping all ‘Protestants’ together. There is a big difference between, say, Presbyterian and COI.

      2. rotide

        Just a minor point,

        There was never really a time when Jewish people accounted for a sizable percentage of the population. It was always a pretty tiny community and it’s shrunk even more so in the last 20 years.

        They didn’t even bother wasting the ink on the census this time around.

        1. classter

          Fine but they were concentrated in one area of Dublin & there was thus a Jewish primary school.

          As a an aisde, as a community they have made a disproportionate contribution to the state. So your minor point is snide & unecessary.l

    2. newsjustin

      Your view that “learning religion is not part of any education of substance” is a subjective and restrictive view of education.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Personal beliefs in things like invisible gods and aliens should be taught at home.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        Learning about religion and indoctrination are completely different things. I’m sure Fluffy meant indoctrination.

        @Fluffy… I thought that throwing in Scientology was for divilment too. Particularly when it is not a recognised religion in Ireland.

          1. Won't somebody please think of the children

            What a surprise two fools who haven’t a clue.

      3. Ernie Ball

        Are you as offended by the actual kiddy-fiddling in which the church hierarchy was complicit as you are by the epithet ‘kiddy-fidfler’?

      4. ahjayzis

        I’m sure he’s offended. Just not enough to maybe concede it’s time we put a bit of healthy secular distance between the largest child-abusing organisation in the world and the education of our kids. Coz god and stuff.

      5. Kieran NYC

        “Comments and questions are welcome.

        Racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, misandry, libel, abuse, bullying, incitement to hatred and hijacking the usernames of other commenters are not. In fairness.”


  3. Robert

    “Well can I just say this, let’s just be clear”

    Must be TCC’s new favourite phrase

  4. Janet, I ate my avatar

    Just the useless girl child a prod then ? That’s right the Catholic Church hates the wimmins.

    1. rotide

      Love how the word ‘prod’ is thrown around in the thread by the same types that would strangle themselves with the pearl clutching if the word ‘paki’ was used.

      They’re both perfectly reasonable contractions that have become perjoratives. What’s the difference?

  5. Janet, I ate my avatar

    Following prod logic tho the girl has no original sin but the boys did ? Ffs

    1. Malta

      To be fair, isn’t it a reasonably common thing in “mixed marriages” for the girls to take the mother’s religion and the boys take the father’s?

      Or at least it used to be. I know very few people who are raising their children in any religion

      1. ReproBertie

        It must be a great way of exposing it all as fairytales. “Now you’re brothers believe this which is of course a load of nonsense. We believe this which they think is a load of nonsense but it’s OK because they’ll be in hell with your father after they die.”

        1. Janet, I ate my avatar

          just wait till she grows up to be a minister and bless same sex marriages

    2. Clampers Outside!

      ‘Original Sin’ is also used by feminists when they (Looking at you Una …and others who believe it) argue all men are ‘potential rapists’ in need of indoctrination through feminist run classes on how not to be a rapist.

          1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            Mansplaining hats to me….. :)

            Fedoras for MRAs (I actually know one who wears one) and trilbies for the lesser known festival going MRA

      1. Nigel

        In fairness a shocking number of mean seem unclear on some of the finer points of not being a rapist.

        1. The Real Jane

          Yeah, like Rapey Stanford and Rapey Dadford. It’s like Young Rapey would have benefited greatly from an introduction to the subject – he appears to have learned that he’s the real victim of rape at his dad’s knee. He’s not even a snack monster any more!

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Unbelievable. I was saying that yesterday. With a Dad like that no wonder he is who he is.

          2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            And if you read the friend’s letter, it get even worse.

  6. Clampers Outside!

    Mr Treacy also said as per SeanOR’s tweet earlier…. “Everybody has a right to be educated totally free from religion, but the child also has a right to be educated in religion’ Patrick Treacy

    A child has a right to be educated in religion.

    I didn’t know that having ‘no choice’ was now a right. Is it the child’s right, or is Mr Treacy speaking about the right of a parent to indoctrinate their child. The latter, clearly, so Mr Treacy is talking out his hoop when he talks of the child’s right, because the child doesn’t choose.

    Just wanted to clear that silliness up.

  7. MoyestWithExcitement

    “We’re in favour of divestment because we want Catholic schools to be really Catholic, and Protestant schools to be really Protestant.”

    Yes, teaching children from a young age that they’re different to their neighbours is a great way to build a cohesive society.

    “So if you want to create a schooling system that denies the spiritual basis of the child, that in my view is not education.”

    Can you not teach YOUR children about YOUR God in YOUR home?

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      They’ve already put different labels on their own children in their own home. Just madness..

    2. nellyb

      “schooling system that denies the spiritual basis of the child” – spirituality usurped by people with pathological distrust towards other people. This position is a paranoia, devoid of religious ideals. Genuine believers would never say anything like that. Treacy is a blasphemer through and through. Amen.

    3. classter

      Or in Sunday school or similar.

      I used to wonder why we had no Sunday school like the Americans on TV did & then I realised that we had it every weekday.

      1. ivan

        I didn’t. I was told that it was a Protestant thing and that most Americans (and Brits, when i’d be watching Just William) were Prods, so that’s why there was Sunday School.

        Then years later i found myself at mass in London…kids all shunted out during the sermon and the penny dropped….

      2. Janet, I ate my avatar

        Most prods have an hour after service every Sunday so you can concentrate on maths weekdays

        1. The Old Boy

          True, although I was taught mathematics by a Church of Ireland clergyman resplendent in his high starched collar.

  8. ForFecksSake

    He says “if you want to create a schooling system that denies the spiritual basis of the child, that in my view is not education.” He is happy for his own children to go to an Educate Together school and therefore clearly does not feel that this is spiritually damaging.

      1. bisted

        …Patrick Treacy sending his kids to an Educate Together school probably betrays just how inappropriate these multi-denominational institutions for people seeking a secular education for their kids.. I would guess he never leaves the place and his version of ‘spirituality’ (whatever that means) drips from the walls of the corridors stalked by him and the other religious people in the area.

  9. Fionn

    in a phrase Patrick Treacy shows how stuck in the past he is: “The word education comes from the Latin ‘edu cara’. It means to ‘lead out”

    The debate should not be about how education was defined in the past, but how education is to be defined today.

        1. noc

          Religious faith and knowledge are two different things. Faith is merely belief, knowledge is, well, knowledge. He wants the State to fund proselytisation, nothing more, nothing less. The State has no business participating in this and State-funded public services should be open to all citizens without regard to the religious background they come from. The question should not even be asked of a child applying for a school place!

  10. 15 cents

    “well my boys are catholic, and i let herself push the girl in protestantism, as we’re not that bothered about havin girls or not in catholocism. as for people who cant get into either catholic or protestant schools, well we made it that bit harder by oddly putting our 4 kids into educate together”


        1. noc

          +1 15 cents. It’s a really strange one. What’s good for my family is not OK for everyone else and in fact, I’m going to campaign to prevent other families from having the religious freedom I enjoy. You couldn’t make it up.

  11. jimmy russell

    ugh this is racist we need to abolish all catholic schools and cater for all backgrounds there needs to be loads more diversity children should be exposed to all cultures like in england where mandatory mosque visits are the norm for school children

    1. classter

      There are lots of faith schools in Engerland too

      Something like France is my desire (excluding silly head-dress ban)

          1. classter

            Nuns aren’t allowed wear their head-dress while attending state school in France.

            I guess it doesn’t crop up as an issue too often.

          2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            Did not know that. The French really stick with that whole separation of State and Church thing to the letter dont they?

      1. Janet, I ate my avatar

        You can wear the head scarf in secondary it’s not age appropriate for most Muslims before that anyway

  12. Eoin

    Why is it, that the EU seems to be secular in attitude ONLY when it comes to Christianity, and not, for example when it comes to Islam? For example, I’ve heard about swimming pools in Germany having special opening times so Muslim women can have some pool time in their burkas. Now that’s fine. But imagine Christians making that kind of request. Double standards in the EU as per usual.

    1. bisted

      …my local pool has special opening times for nudists and naturists…I may be wrong but some of them may be christians…

    2. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      They do to for Orthodox Jewish women too. SHOCK HORROR!

    3. Nigel

      But on what reasonable grounds could Christians make that request? If there was some special compelling reason they could probably be accommodated too. Besides swimming pools take group bookings for exclusive use of the pool all the time, it’s hardly the state giving them preferential treatment. (If true – there have been so many suss stories about Muslims you wouldn’t know what to believe.)

    4. Kieran NYC

      You mean an entire society built up around what was/is normal for Christians and Christian traditions doesn’t have to change things to accommodate them?


    5. classter

      Irrespective of how true the anecdote is, I like how you have made individual swimming pools representative of the EU as a whole

  13. ahjayzis

    This transparent bullpoo is boiling my wee. “Greater choice” is bs. A small town cannot have as many schools as there are religious persuasions. And a few miles north they call this muck sectarianism.

    These are public schools, have a common school with a common curriculum, with add-ons for religious crap supplied by religious organisations.

    It’s just so fupping nonsensical and wasteful to need separate schools for separate superstitions >_<

    Because it is nonsensical and all this is is the establishment once again giving the Catholic Church what it wants.

      1. ahjayzis

        100% publically funded, 100% publically ran and 100% publically staffed then, my pedantic little friend.

        If a government agency is headquartered in a privately leased building, such as the Data Protection Commissioner, that does not remove the Data Protection Comissioner, his activities or his remit from the public domain.

        1. newsjustin

          Catholic schools aren’t 100% publicly funded. They aren’t publicly ran. Teachers wages are paid by the state, as they are in all schools.

          If you want to have a debate, you really need to get these most basic facts right.

          1. Eyeseeyou

            The Church owes the state far more than the other way round. For all the child rape. Don’t omit that fact from your measly notebook.

          2. newsjustin

            Thanks Eyeseeyou. You haven’t contradicted what I’ve said, so I must assume you agree with me. You’ve brought us off on a new tangent though. Well done you.

  14. Melton_Carbury

    I think he means ‘educere’, and even if so, he falls into the etymology fallacy.
    Early educators were referred to as an aedificator, but that doesn’t mean they were taught building codes.

  15. Junkface

    What exactly is “Really Catholic”?
    Like when your children get raped or molested by the local priest and everyone in the village knows whats happening, but no one puts a stop to it, and the Bishop moves the priest to the next village and a fresh batch of children?

    That is REALLY Catholic

  16. 15 cents

    he’s really held bent on manipulating kids. make catholic schools VERY catholic, so what? so they can’t veer off and say, i dunno, think for themselves and decide their own faith (if any)?

    1. noc

      Yes and pity any poor non-heterosexual child or child of a single parent or child of divorced parents attending such a school where they learn that they, and/ or their parents are sinners and not worthy. These people are sinister.

  17. bisted

    …the next real step in this debate will be when the figures from the census on religions are released…no doubt these will be leaked to the government and the catholics long before they are released so keep an eye out for the spin…I believe Richard Bruton is the first salvo in the spin…

      1. bisted

        …I’ll bet they have…and you have your own personal relationship with jesus I’m sure

        1. newsjustin

          I have. But I was amused by your notion that “the catholics” as a group would be tipped off on the results of one question from the census. I suppose a tall, albino, religious gentleman collect your census form bisted?

  18. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Teach everyone the tenets of all religions and let them decide if they’re interested or not. Teaching about one religion to the exclusion of all others is anti-education, really. In the true sense of the word.
    If it’s a “good enough” religion, people will choose it. If it’s a piece of crap religion that hasn’t moved with the times, they’ll probably reject it.

    1. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      Not to mention increasing understanding of other religions so you don’t get the nonsense that spouts out of the Mail being perpetuated forever

  19. Jordofthejungle

    Where have we last seen & heard from Patrick Treacy? Advocating a No vote quite stridently in #MarRef. Before that? Togging out to oppose divorce in 1995. Same crowd – all interrelated. Whiff of Opus Dei about this fellow. Needless to say, another Iona spin off like Pure in Heart. However, when he says “really Catholic”, for those who know him, he is certainly not joking. *gulp*

    1. Janet, I ate my avatar

      and sure why not ? the third and forth language is a doddle after. gymnastics for the mind

    2. classter

      I am a big fan of the Gaelscoils but realistically they work because not all schools are Gaelscoils.

      Irrespective of income, they strip out families who almost all value education for education’s sake.

      1. Nigel

        Making all schools Gaelscoileanna would negate that, except inasmuch as those families would still go actively looking for the better schools.

      2. noc

        I don’t agree with this. There is a place for Gaeilscoils, particularly in areas where the language is still spoken. However, Gaelscoileanna also discriminate against children from non-Irish backgrounds. Some may claim they don’t but in practice they hardly seem very welcoming to a child of parents from the UK for instance, or for a child whom English is not even their mother-tongue!

        I’m ducking Gaeilgeoir (sp?) missiles as I say this also, but I’m not convinced of the wisdom of teaching a child who speaks English through a different language so I would not be in favour of this model becoming the norm.

  20. Pip

    Can’t help it, but doesn’t April Duff sound like the name of a band?
    Blackberry Smoke, Molly Hatchet, April Duff and very special guests.

  21. DrainBamaged

    Is this really a huge deal right now, I have no kids so perhaps my attitude will change but I loved going to a Catholic school specifically for religion class. I deprogrammed quite a few fellow classmates because I challenged the teacher on everything. She was a real true believer so it made it even more fun. By the end she offered the let me down homework which I would on occasion u less it was a topic I couldn’t tolerate misinformation about.

    1. noc

      Trust me, it is a MASSIVE issue if you do have children and don’t want to baptise them and it is rather upsetting to hear people dismiss something so serious as ‘not a problem’. It is an even greater causer of stress and upset to parents of children who haven’t even got the option of a ‘pragmatic baptism’ (though I think it is disgraceful that so many seem blasé about Irish parents who feel pressured to baptise their child to get an equal chance of attending their local school).

      There is a Jewish child in my son’s creche for example. Every single school in the area puts her way down the list in terms of who they will offer places to. Her parents (who both work full-time and have to juggle with commuting etc.) will have no idea of where she will be going to school until all of the first, second and third round offers of school places will have been made. They may find out at the last minute that they have to factor in a 40 minute drive through bumper-to-bumper traffic to a school miles away to drop her in before getting back on the road to their own places of work. This could be completely unmanageable for them. That’s just one of the purely practical problems this law causes.

      Then there is the emotional kick to the stomach that your child is not wanted in any of the local schools. She may be perfectly welcome at creche and no one is even aware that her parents have a different religion (we found out in passing only last week), but when it comes to primary school a Catholic or Protestant child from any other area of Dublin would be more welcome than her. It’s a disgusting thing to experience what seems like veiled hatred quite frankly.

  22. Niall Keane

    “The vast, vast, vast majority of parents believe that their child is spiritual, all right? So if you want to create a schooling system that denies the spiritual basis of the child, that in my view is not education.”

    hmmm… this line was used before around the 1600’s by agents of the same Roman organisation:

    “The vast, vast, vast majority of parents believe that the earth is flat, all right? So if you want to create a schooling system that denies that the earth is flat, that in my view is not education.”

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