Thursday 19 April 2018

Bruton will draw up new bill replacing plan to abolish 'old school tie' admissions

Education Minister Richard Bruton Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Education Minister Richard Bruton Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Kevin Doyle and Katherine Donnelly

Education Minister Richard Bruton has dropped plans to limit the number of children of past pupils who can get priority for enrolment in a school.

The Schools Admission Bill, which was championed by the Labour Party and approved by the last Cabinet, was not included in a list of legislation carried over into the new Dáil.

Instead Mr Bruton intends to begin a fresh process of consultation and draw up his own bill, which he says can be enacted by September 2017.

For three years his predecessors Ruairí Quinn and Jan O'Sullivan fought to get her legislation through the Dáil chamber despite strong objections from Fine Gael ministers.

The past pupils' unions of two of the country's best known fee-paying schools, Belvedere College and Blackrock College, were among the most vocal in their opposition to the bill.

The main bone of contention was a section that would block the so-called 'old school tie' brigade from reserving space in schools for the children of past pupils - at the expense of others who may live closer to the building.

Sources in the Department of Education last night insisted the issue would still be considered as part of the new process but could not say whether Mr Bruton supported measures as stringent as those put forward previously. They suggested the piece of legislation put forward by the last government would not survive the Dáil, given its new make-up.

Mr Bruton has made contact with spokespeople from opposition parties with a view to starting work on new legislation.

"A central part of this is making it easier for parents to get children into the school they want without worrying about waiting lists or contributions; making it easier for parents to access information and be consulted about schools' admissions policies," a spokesman said.

Labour senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said it was a "sad day" for the education system.

Irish Independent

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