New Approach Needed on School Patronage

30 May 2023

Following the publication of Census data showing the diminishing number of people identifying themselves as Catholic, Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called for a Citizens’ Assembly to be convened to address religious control of the education system.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Fewer people identify themselves as being members of organised religion, and the Census data shows a 10% drop in those who consider themselves to be Roman Catholic. This begs the question – why does the Catholic Church still have such a grasp on our education system?

“We are in the height of confirmation and communion season right now. Receiving the sacraments is one of the few occasions that many people attend mass, yet we know that so much class time goes in those years to preparing for sacraments rather than focusing on core curriculum subjects.

“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.

“The Department needs to move past models that are set up to fail. We’ve had one in Raheny in my own constituency which was clearly set up to fail – meetings were divisive and did not take into account the views of the parents in the community. The approach needs to change.

“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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