Time for action, not more announcements on baptism barrier

09 May 2018

Labour Party Education spokesperson, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, has called on the Education Minister to present his legislation to the Oireachtas to end the baptism barrier as soon as possible.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“This morning, the Minister for Education made his third announcement that the Government is making moves to end the baptism barrier but parents around the country are still waiting to see legislation enacted.

“Going on the radio and making announcements several times without producing any legislation to back up the announcement seems to be a favourite past-time of Minister Bruton, having made the same announcement on the 3rd of January.

“Schools across the country have already finalised their intake for the 2018 – 2019 school year.

“So another year will have passed without any action to reform school admissions and remove the baptism barrier. Parents across Ireland will once again be faced with impossible choices, and restricted access to their local school.

“‘The reported 25% allowance of school places to students of past-pupils is a clear capitulation to the fee-paying sector and is an unwanted insertion of an inequality provision in the bill.  A child of an early school leaver or the child of a parent from another part of the country or another country altogether will be at a clear disadvantage as a result of this measure. This element of the bill was one of the main reasons Jan O’Sullivan was blocked by Fine Gael in the last government.

“It is time for the Government to finally act on this and stop dragging its feet by ensuring that our publicly funded school system does not discriminate against children of different faiths and none.

“Perhaps instead of making the same ‘announcement’ on national radio every six months, Minister Bruton could show some leadership and bring legislation to actually address the matter speedily through the Houses of the Oireachtas.”

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