The principal of Gaelscoil Moshíológ has said no decision has been made on the future of the school’s religious denomination and it is merely in a “consultation process” regarding its ethos. Responding to speculation regarding the future of the school in which an elected representative had criticised a potential move away from its Christian roots, principal Carol Scott issued the following statement.
“Since October 2021, Gaelscoil Moshíológ has engaged in an open, transparent and comprehensive consultation process regarding the ‘ethos’ of our school with all relevant members of the school community: Bord Bainistíochta, school staff, parents/guardians and other local stakeholders (including St. Michael’s Catholic church and Church of Ireland),” read the statement.
“Information has been shared and discussed with all parties, while feedback from all relevant stakeholders has been encouraged, welcomed and addressed. The Bord Bainistíochta are yet to make any decision regarding the change of ethos and before doing so will give due consideration to the findings of the consultation process and any decision will reflect the identified needs of our school community.”
However, local councillor Diarmuid Devereux said any move to alter the ethos of the school would be a mistake and required discussion with elected representatives.
“I think it’s wrong, it’s very wrong,” he said. “The Christian ethos in the school was there from day one, it was inter-church school, it wasn’t Catholic or Church of Ireland. There’s been a Christian ethos in Gorey since the town was founded in the 1600s, I don’t understand what the board of management are trying to do, what are they trying to achieve with this?”
Noting that Gorey already had a multi-denominational school at Gorey Educate Together, Cllr Devereux said changing the ethos of the Gaelscoil without communicating with public representatives had been a mistake.
“They say it’s in the interests of tolerance, but they’re already tolerant, any child can go to the school.
“You don’t go into the school based on your religion. I’m not saying we need religions in school, but what I am saying is this is a faith issue and the vast majority of people in this town are people of faith one way or another,” he said.
“Before the board of management make this decision they need to interact with local reps and the people in the town and have a serious discussion. The Board of Management is transient, they’ll be there for a while, but in a decade’s time will they be there?
“Once the decision is made to kill that Christian ethos it’s gone. What we have is a huge benefit and what’s being proposed I can’t see any benefit to it.”
And the Fine Gael councillor questioned this was one more step towards us losing our identity as a people.
“We’re gone wishy-washy in society with everything, you have to have some kind of a benchmark or a standard. Are we going to the stage where in a couple of years we’ll stop calling ourselves Irish?”
An Foras Pátrúnachta is the patron body of Gaelscoil Moshíológ and its General Secretary, Caoimhín Ó hEaghra, said any move away from its current ethos would not happen without the say-so of all affected parties.
“There are approximately 3000 primary schools in Ireland, and 92 per cent of them are Catholic,” he said.
“There’s been a number of initiatives since 2012 to develop the divestment process. Since then we have engaged with a number of schools, with the Catholic Bishops, Educate Together, and the Church of Ireland (COI).
“In relation to Gorey there will be no change of patronage unless the whole school community is consulted, no decisions will be made without them.
“It’s a process whereby it is explained to the whole school community what it entails, and that process leads to a decision whether to be multi-denomination or stay the same.”
And Mr Ó hEaghra said the ultimate aim was to make the school more accessible to a wider cohort of pupils.
“It’s very important to point out that in terms of Irish medium education there’s only one gaelscoil in Gorey,” he continued. “If you’re a Catholic child and want to go an Catholic school you can choose any amount of them, the same goes for a COI school. And if you’re English speaking and you want to choose a school you have the same options.
“But if you’re an Irish speaker and inter-denominational you have no choice. The point here is that if you are a parent who wants Irish-Medium education but do not want to send your child to a denominational school then you have no choice in Gorey. In contrast if you were a parent who wanted English Medium education but did not want to send your child to a denominational school you do have that choice. Therefore by becoming a multi-denominational school Gaelscoil Moshíológ is catering for all children who want Irish-Medium Education. Thus providing more diversity and choice in Gorey.”