Tuesday 21 May 2019

Opposition TDs hit out at lack of action on 'baptism barrier'

Education Minister Richard Brutons. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Education Minister Richard Brutons. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Education Minister Richard Bruton has been accused of going against "progressive measures" proposed during the last government, as he will not tackle the "baptism barrier" in schools.

The Irish Independent revealed yesterday that Mr Bruton will not be dealing with the situation that allows Catholic schools to give priority enrolment to children of their faith.

Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the lack of action "flies in the face of all the progressive measures" his party attempted to take.

While the minister announced an initiative to speed up the process of increasing the number of non-denominational schools, it emerged there will be no specific action on the 'baptism rule' that can cause an issue in about 20pc of schools which are oversubscribed.

Mr Ó'Ríordáin said it was "desperately disappointing". He said it was reasonable that parents would want to send their child to their local school regardless of its ethos - and that they were not seeking to change how the school was managed in doing that.

Meanwhile, Paul Murphy of AAA-PBP said it was "outrageous" and claimed it was "basic discrimination against minority faiths and people who aren't religious". His group is planning to reintroduce a bill on the matter into the Dáil to get rid of the baptism barrier.

A spokesman for Mr Bruton responded to the criticism, arguing that the "most direct way of dealing with this is by providing more non-denominational and multi-denominational schools and we're doing that".

He said the legislation required would face "significant constitutional difficulties" but that Mr Bruton would be discussing the issue further with an Oireachtas committee.

Irish Independent

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