'Old boy network' wins out in school place row
The Government is abandoning controversial plans to change the rules on school admissions.
Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan had announced that schools would only be allowed to reserve one in 10 places for the children of past pupils.
The move sparked fury among the so-called 'old boys network' of past pupils.
The past pupils' unions of two of the country's best-known fee-paying schools, Belvedere College and Blackrock College were among most vocal against an interference with the status quo.
But opposition to change was far reaching and other schools, such as those with a strong GAA tradition, are also keen to preserve tight family links.
The minister's proposals will now bite the dust as she says there won't be time to get the proposed new law through in the lifetime of the current Dáil.
"At this point in the political cycle I have concluded that it is unlikely that this legislation will pass through both houses of the Oireachtas in advance of the election," she says.
The minister said she was disappointed by the development. But her sentiments will not be shared by her Fine Gael cabinet colleagues, many of them past pupils of elite schools, who came under pressure on the issue.
In another major announcement last night, Ms O'Sullivan said she would get rid of a 50-year-old rule that says religion must underpin the day of a primary school.
The minister said Rule 68 was "archaic" and that it would be removed in January, a step that will be welcomed by those seeking to reduce the influence of religion on Irish primary education.