Gary Gannon TD

The monopoly control of the Catholic Church on our primary schools is a relic from another era

The Education Minister must review the school divestment programme after the Census revealed a sharp drop in the number of people who call themselves Catholic, according to Social Democrats Education Spokesperson Gary Gannon.

“The Census has revealed that the proportion of people who view themselves as Catholics fell sharply between 2016 and 2022, from 79% to 69%. Meanwhile, 14% of the population say they have no religion.

“Despite this, nearly 90% of our primary schools remain Catholic. Parents should not be forced to send their children to a school with Catholic ethos, which they do not subscribe to, because of a shortage of multi-denominational schools.

“The government’s divestment programme claims it will divest 400 schools, from Catholic patronage, by 2030. Given the current abysmally low delivery rate, there is no hope of this target being met.

“Last year, just one school divested from Catholic patronage. It became just the 14th school to divest patronage to multi-denominational. Given the snail’s pace of this process, does the Minister really believe that 384 schools will divest in the next seven years?

“The divestment programme is clearly flawed and is not working. The government must now conduct a review of the divestment process and determine what needs to change to make it work for parents, children and school communities.

“The disproportionate influence of the Catholic Church on our primary schools is a relic from another era. The government cannot just sit back and allow this monopoly control to continue into the 21st century.”

31 May, 2023


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