Co-leader of the Social Democrats, Róisín Shortall TD, today accused the Minister for Education of a “breach of faith” in relation to pluralism in education. Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Shortall challenged the Minister over the decision to limit five Educate Together schools to an intake of just 13 pupils next year, and his failure to progress the Schools Divestment Programme.
Speaking on the Topical Issue debate, Deputy Shortall said:
“The Programme for Government promises to deliver ‘a dynamic and innovative Education system that reflects the diversity of 21st century Ireland’ and ‘a roadmap for a phased transfer of Catholic schools to new patrons’. In spite of these worthy aspirations, the Government has completely reneged on its promise to follow through on the patronage divestment process. Only eight schools have been transferred to Educate Together under this process, and of those five have had their intake restricted to just 13 students next year.”
“The Minister and his Department’s actions not only show that there is no real commitment to multi denominational education, but also that they have adopted a policy of protectionism towards the Catholic Church. In a letter to these schools, the Department specifically states that it is their intention that the establishment of a divested school does not adversely affect existing primary schools in the area.”
Deputy Shortall concluded, “if the government had any intention on delivering on their promises, they would be promoting the success of these thriving multi-denominational schools, not attempting to stymie their development to protect the status quo. Figures released today show Catholic schools still account for more than 90% of enrolments at primary level. We will never achieve an education system that reflects modern Irish society without a commitment to pluralism, which regrettably this Government has demonstrated it lacks.”
27th February 2018