Fears of an end to faiths and celebrations don't stand up
Some claims made by the two schools about the place of religion under alternative patronage and implications for certain celebrations and events that have roots in religion do not stand up.
Scoil an Duinnínigh states that none of the three patrons has a Catholic ethos and change would mean an end to religious celebrations and related events such as nativity plays, carol singing, Christmas fairs, St Brigid's Day, St Patrick's Day and Easter, including Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.
According to St Marnock's NS, regardless of which patron is selected, religious education would no longer be taught. The school also advises that celebrations such as nativities, carol services, stories of the first Christmas, Easter and around Irish saints would no longer be possible.
Educate Together is non-denominational and ethical education is taught in place of religious education, but Educate Together pupils were out in force for recent St Patrick's Day parades.
The other two patrons have different approaches.
An Foras Pátrúnachta schools operate whatever ethos is agreed by parents, including a Catholic ethos. Its inter-denominational schools have religious celebrations for both Catholic and Protestant faiths and in its multi-denominational schools all beliefs are on an equal footing. A multi-denominational calendar breaks down the school year into topical celebrations such as Christmas and Hanukkah, while national holidays such as St Patrick's Day also feature.
Community National Schools are multi-denominational and deliver a multi-belief and values education curriculum, although there is no longer any faith formation, such as preparation for first communion, during the school day. They celebrate many religious and non-religious events including Christmas, Easter, Eid, Holi and Darwin Day and symbols and images on display may reflect the different religions and beliefs of pupils. Special times of year can also be marked with particular images and artefacts such as a crib at Christmas and Islamic art displays at Eid.