A New Approach Needed on School Patronage

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
05 April 2019

Labour Spokesperson for Education Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has reiterated his call for a Citizens’ Assembly to be reconvened to consider changes to our Constitution to address religious control of the education system. This follows news that the Archdiocese of Dublin has postponed votes on school patronage.

Senator Ó Ríordáin said:

“News today that Archdiocese of Dublin is suspending the process of divestment of a school in North Dublin is disheartening. The process seems to have fallen apart due to the lack of adequate administration. It also seems the Department of Education has taken an incredibly hands-off approach here. They need to take control of the situation so as to avoid a repeat breakdown in other schools into the future.

“The process was a mess from beginning to end. No-one who is serious about potential divestment would have approached it in this manner. The cynics among us who have watched this process fall apart might be forgiven for thinking that it was designed to fail from the beginning.

“This entire saga only adds credence to Labour’s call for a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue. Labour is calling on the Government to reconvene a Citizens’ Assembly that would examine the ownership and control of our education system, and the influence of Articles 42 and 44 of Bunreacht na hÉireann.

“There has been a huge amount of success in recent years using the Citizens’ Assembly model to help progress issues of change in Irish life; Marriage Equality and the Repeal of the Eight Amendment being just two examples. In both of those cases, the Citizens’ Assembly process gave the public the necessary facts, and space, to discuss important issues facing the county.

“Creating a secular educations system will require more than Department directives and even willing patrons; school communities and parents support will be needed also. It’s time for a national conversation about how we achieve a modern, secular and equality-based education system for the Ireland of today, and what we hope to achieve for tomorrow.”

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