'Parents getting children baptised just to get them into state-funded schools'
Parents in leafy areas of the capital are only getting their babies baptised so that they have a chance of enrolling them in particular state-funded schools which happen to have a Catholic ethos, a local Coalition TD claims.
Eoghan Murphy, Fine Gael TD for Dublin Bay South, said he is aware from constituents concerned about getting their children into schools amid high local demand, that they are asking his advice about whether they should get their children baptised.
Asked whether this was merely a Catholic Church issue or if Church of Ireland and parents of other religions are similarly baptising their children for the same reason, Mr Murphy replied: "I only know it as a Catholic issue because 90pc of state-funded schools are Catholic."
Mr Murphy said the problem is erupting because of the uncertainty about changes in school enrollment policies, following the failure to make progress on the Admission to Schools bill to regulate the admission of children to primary and post primary schools.
"There's some debate about the percentages of children of past pupils who will be allowed to be enrolled," said Mr Murphy.
He maintained that the proximity of a school to a child's home should 'trump' the faith of the school, particularly when it is receiving 100pc state funding.
However, a Catholic church source asked whether parents from other faiths were not also baptising their children for the same reasons. And he argued that it cannot be proved that this was the sole reason for baptism, since faith may also be a factor.
Mr Murphy was speaking in the wake of a recent "Town Hall Meeting" held in the local lawn bowling club in Sandymount.
"Let's start talking about politics together, as a community and as a group" he told the audience. "I think it's time for us to do more."
"It's all about the community," he assured the 30 or so residents who had turned up. "It's about connecting. And talking about our concerns on a national and local level."
Talk about the IMF soon evolved into a discussion about tax, and the possibility of means testing the upper echelons of society.
But it wasn't long before the real issues of the day were broached. Namely, the inordinate amount of time the level crossing takes to lift at Sandymount Dart station.
"Do the CIE have the right to barricade us in?" one man asked. "That's what they call 'living on the wrong side of the tracks'," a lady retorted.
But it wasn't all about "local shops and schools for local people" and bigger issues were debated at length.
"Fine Gael need to stop the anti Sinn Féin rhetoric," a young man advised Mr Murphy. "Sinn Féin today is not the same organisation it was in the 1970s."
"A leopard doesn't change its spots," one man muttered. "Or its balaclava."
The climax of the evening came when one resident started giving out about the marriage referendum and the right of businesses to refuse customers if they clash with their religious beliefs.
"Anyway," one resident concluded. "Who really wants a bigot to bake them a wedding cake?"