Thursday 22 March 2018

Protestant teacher gets €12,000 over religious bias

John Walshe Education Editor

A primary school has been forced to give more than €12,000 to a teacher who was discriminated against because she is not a Catholic.

Michelle McKeever, a member of the Church of Ireland, was offered a permanent post at the Knocktemple National School in Virginia, Co Cavan, three years ago -- but the offer was later withdrawn.

An Equality Tribunal awarded her €12,697 -- the maximum allowed. It also ordered the school to follow correct procedures laid down for the recruitment of staff by keeping adequate records of all interviews and decisions by the interview board and by ensuring decisions are properly minuted.

Ms McKeever, who declined to comment last night, had applied for the job in May 2007. Shortly after, she was contacted by the school principal and the chairperson of the board and offered a permanent post.

But after a phone call in which Ms McKeever was questioned about holding a Catholic religion certificate, the offer was withdrawn.

The certificate is given to teachers from Catholic teacher training colleges such as St Patrick's College, Drumcondra and Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. It allows them to prepare Catholic pupils for communion and confirmation.

Ms McKeever contended that her religion became a factor in the appointment procedure.

The Equality Officer concluded that the complainant's religion was discussed and influenced the Board of Management in withdrawing the offer. The INTO, who represented Ms McKeever in the case, welcomed the outcome.


Last night the board apologised to Ms McKeever and said it deeply regretted the distress caused to her. It said proper procedures were not followed and Ms McKeever was justified in perceiving that its decision was based on religious grounds.

The statement said the board was now fully compliant with the equality officer's advice.

Irish Independent

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