Tag Archives: School patronage

St Sylvester’s Infant School, Malahide, County Dublin

A third school in north county Dublin has sent a letter to parents warning of dire consequences if parents vote to change the ethos of the school in an upcoming ballot.

St Sylvester’s in Malahide has told parents that a move away from Catholic patronage would mean that the school would no longer be able to celebrate the role of grandparents in children’s lives

The leaflet also warns that there will be “no more uniforms” and that this will compromise child safety on school tours as well as leading to “arguments in the morning”.

Good times.

Third Dublin school sends letter warning of consequences over changing patronage (RTÉ)


Via Educate Together

‘Educate Together is aware of much media comment over a series of letters issued in the Malahide / Portmanock / Kinsealy area in relation to possible reassignment of patronage of some Catholic schools.

Educate Together issued a classification statement on this matter yesterday, which can be accessed here.

However, Educate Together is disappointed that the content of further material published today (above) is grossly misleading and categorically untrue.

Due to a number of issues raised, we can only assume that these statements are directed against Educate Together’s equality-based school model.

It has been alleged that multi-denominational / equality-based schools engage in a number of unsafe and negative practices, such as:

compromising on child safety
having ‘low standards’ of education
not celebrating Christmas and other cultural events
not celebrating the role of grandparents in children’s lives
leading to “uncertainty” in local access to secondary education

None of this is true.

Educate Together is calling on school leaders to be aware of their responsibility to provide parents and the general public with accurate information about other school models, especially when they are implicitly referencing Educate Together.

Educate Together has not been consulted regarding any divestments in Malahide/Portmarnock. The organisation is calling for a forum where all stakeholders can exchange opinions and information.

Or anyone interested in learning about Educate Together’s unique, inclusive and equality-based school ethos, our brand new website www.educatetogether.ie will assist…’

Another Day, Another Clarification (Educate Together)

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“The real inequality is not religious in nature…’

From the Pastoral statement on the Catholic Bishops of Ireland on the upcoming General Election – distributed at mass across Ireland yesterday.

Read the full statement here




A leaflet from the Christians Concerned For Dun Laoghaire.

Previously: School Places For Some, Miniature Tricolours For Others

‘Divestment Of School Patronage Is Slow’

Thanks Alan Kinsella



Anything good in the Guardian?

Harriet Sherwood writes:

Ireland’s last census, in 2011, showed a big rise in the numbers of non-Catholics. Although those identifying themselves as Catholic were still the vast majority of the 4.5m population, more than 6% – 277,000 people – described themselves as atheist, agnostic, lapsed or of “no religion”. The number was an increase of almost 50% since the previous census in 2006; the next census, due in April, is expected to show an even bigger rise.

… A few months ago, the archdiocese of Dublin commissioned research from a global consultancy firm, Towers Watson, to forecast the church’s trajectory over the next 15 years. Its findings made bleak reading for the church, which declined to speak about the report to the Guardian.

Attendances at mass are set to fall by a third between now and 2030, on top of a 20% drop between 2008 and 2014. The church can expect to recruit one new priest under the age of 40 each year. As incumbents retire or die, there is likely to be a fall of up to 70% in the number of working priests, and about three-quarters of those remaining in post will be over the age of 60. The church must consider recruiting priests from other countries and encouraging existing priests to work beyond the age of 75, the report said.

Baptisms were predicted to remain stable, but the report noted that this may be explained by “the preference given to children who are baptised when enrolling in Catholic primary schools. If this requirement is removed at any point prior to 2030, we believe there is likely to be a decline in the number of baptisms each year.”

Jodie Neary, the mother of 18-month-old unbaptised twins Evyie and Mia, said: “The school system is the last stronghold of the Catholic church in Ireland, so it’s very important to them. I’ve never considered baptising the girls, but I know people who baptise their children just to make sure they can get into the local school. It’s very common.”

… The Guardian spoke to parents who reported children being assigned prayers for homework, given religiously-themed artwork and reading books, taught creationism on nature walks and enlisted in the construction of “prayer stations” with religious icons on school premises. “It’s hard to challenge this – you don’t want to be the parent who turns up every day to argue with the teachers,” said one.

…[Mike McKillen, 72, who teaches bio-chemistry part-time at Trinity College Dublin said:] “The church is no longer in the ascendant. And once we get a system of education that isn’t dependent on religious patronage, its influence will wane further. There is political momentum on this, and the policy makers cannot ignore it any longer.”

Faith, hope and secularity: Ireland on brink of change as church power wanes (The Guardian)

Related: Carol Hunt: And The Lesson Today

Pic: Gorey Educate Together

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From top: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James Reilly; UN Committee on the Rights of the Child members Gehad Madi, of Egypt, and Suzanne Aho Assouma, of Togo

Today members of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child are looking at Ireland’s record on children’s rights.

It’s been ten years since the committee last reviewed Ireland’s record.

This morning, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James Reilly spoke before the committee at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland and fielded questions in relation to school patronage.

At one point, one of the committee’s members, Suzanne Aho Assouma, from Togo, interrupted to as if Ireland plans to decriminalise abortion.

It’s understood Dr Reilly, and members of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, will reply to questions this afternoon when a second session gets under way at 2pm (Irish time).

From this morning’s session:

Dr James Reilly: “To reassure the committee, the Equal Status Act prohibit discrimination on nine grounds, namely gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, race, membership of the Traveller community and disability. And the Employment Acts cover discrimination in the workplace and the Equal Status Act provides protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services. And the legislation is designed to promote equality and prohibit discrimination in any form that it comes. So that applies in the general sense to both, to all people and also to Travellers and Roma.

In relation to the issue around patronage of the schools, I suppose it’s important to point out that our school system evolved from the religious orders themselves and so it’s not surprise that we have such a preponderance of denominational schools with 95 per cent of primary and 70 per cent of secondary schools of a denominational nature. But we are committed, as a Government, to move to a more pluralist system of patronage for our schools.

The report of the advisory group to the forum among patronage and pluralism in the primary sector, which was published in April 2012, recommended steps that could be taken to ensure that the education system can provide a sufficiently diverse number and range of primary schools to cater for all religions and none. And, as clear evidence that change is occurring, in relation to the ethos of newly provided schools to meet demographic need, since 2011 patronage and decisions have been made in respect of 45 new schools established to meet demographic need and all of these decisions have involved consultation with parents, as to the preferred type of school. Over 90 per cent of the new schools have a multi-denominational ethos.

So where demographic need does not exist the means of achieving pluralism in school choice is through a process of divestment of existing school patronage and this, I have to admit, is a slow process. But the Minister for Education has recently emphasised the importance of accelerating the process in that regard.

Can I just also say, I think it’s important, to point out that, we do have a much more pluralist society and a much more open society in Ireland. Now, there is one school I’m aware of in my own constituency where there’s 81 different nationalities attending that school.

So the issue is one of concern to us, that the patronage  of our schools is lagging way behind the actuality of our education system which is, you know, the separation of state and church is clearly well defined. And secondly, the minister has also indicated that she’s going to repeal part of an act that dates from 1965 which states that religious education  was the most important element of education in primary schools.”

Gehad Madi: “Thank you very much… The problem is implementation on the ground and we see that there is a big portion of people who would like to enrol their children in non-denominational education do not find the right school in their community, in their county, to do that.

And we understand, also, that religious education, I stand here to be corrected, is part of the curriculum of many schools. Is this the case? Because a student who does not participate in such lessons will have some problems in their grades or graduation. So I wanted to be clear on this issue, to help us better understand the information. And we do acknowledge that the process of transfer is being very slow. Thank you.”

Suzanne Aho Assouma: “Thank you. I haven’t yet had an answer concerning discrimination against boys because they’ve had sexual intercourse. I would like to also know what is being done to prevent stigmatisation of girls. Now on the abortion act, do you plan decriminalise abortion? And, in this regard, we believe that there is discrimination against pregnant girls who have to travel to another country in order to have an abortion. So we are asking why abortions cannot be carried out in Ireland? Is this for religious reasons? And I’d also like to know what happens to those girls who travel abroad to get an abortion? What happens if they haven’t got the necessary resources? What do they do in this case?”

Watch live (from 2pm) here

Meanwhile, back in Ireland…



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