Wednesday 24 April 2019

Divestment schools row

Scoil An Duinninigh
Scoil An Duinninigh

Ken Phelan

A Kinsealy national school has issued a stark warning to parents over the implications of possible divestment of the school's Catholic ethos, as set out by the Department of Education recently as a row broke out across schools in Portmarnock, Malahide and Kinsealy on the issue.

Scoil an Duinnínigh is one of eight Catholic schools from the Malahide/Portmarnock/Kinsealy areas to be considered by the Archdiocese for a change of patronage, of which one will ultimately be selected for divestment.

Schools falling under consideration for change of patronage include: St. Marnock's - Portmarnock; Scoil An Duinnínigh - Swords; St. Oliver Plunkett - Malahide; St. Sylvester's Infant School - Malahide; St. Nicholas of Myra NS - Kinsealy; Pope John Paul II - Malahide; St. Helen's JNS - Portmarnock; and St. Helen's SNS - Portmarnock.

Tension has arisen amongst parents of the schools, who claim a lack of information being provided, as well as 'scaremongering' from school boards.

Divestment would see a change of patronage for the chosen school to either Educate Together, Community National Schools, or An Foras Pátrúnachta, which has a choice of a Catholic, multi-denominational and interdenominational ethos.

It is hoped the new patronage of the selected school will be in place for the upcoming school year, September 2019.

A number of the eight schools have written to parents informing them of the implications of possible change of patronage.

The letter issued to parents by by Scoil an Duinnínigh warns of the non-celebration of religious holidays should the school's patronage change, issues concerning preparation for Communion and Confirmation, and effects on the 'spirit, management, culture and language' of the school.

A survey on the patronage issue is due to be issued by Scoil an Duinnínigh shortly, recommending retention of the school's Catholic ethos and patronage. According to the school, Communion and Confirmation would no longer be allowed at Scoil an Duinnínigh should divestment take place, as the school 'would no longer be allowed to prepare the children for these sacraments.'

The school further claims that traditional celebrations, such as Christmas, St. Brigid's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter and Graduation Mass would no longer be celebrated, and that there were also implications for practice of the Irish language at the school. There were also concerns raised about a possible name change for Scoil an Duinnínigh, as well as the practice of any music containing religious reference.

Ninety percent of primary schools in Ireland come under patronage of the Catholic Church, something which the Department of Education is hoping to address in order to promote greater diversity. Many parents in Fingal have expressed frustration at the lack of non-denominational schools in the area.

Educate Together and the Education Training Board have said that their schools do in fact celebrate festivals such as Christmas and St Patrick's Day.

Fingal Independent