The government’s school admissions bill completely fails to deal with the problem of children being denied access to their local primary school due to their religion, according to the Social Democrats.

The party has tabled amendments to remove the schools ‘baptism barrier’ – a discriminatory practice which the government’s Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 fails to address. The bill comes before the Select Committee on Education and Skills later today.

The party’s co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:

“The government’s bill completely fails to address the ‘baptism barrier’ that means children can be denied access to their local primary schools solely on the basis of their religion.

“Minister Bruton has followed a long line of Ministers before him who will talk about the injustice of the problem but when push comes to shove are not willing to do anything about it. If the Minister was listening to the voices of parents, he would know that recent research by the group Equate shows that seven out of ten parents want the law to be changed so that baptism can no longer be a requirement for admissions to state funded schools.”

The Social Democrats have also tabled amendments today to ensure that religious instruction is carried out at the end of the school day. The party will also be opposing the Government’s proposal to allow 25% of school places to be designated to children and grand-children of past pupils.

Deputy Shortall added:

“There is absolutely no rationale to preserve places for children or grandchildren of past pupils. This only perpetuates social division. It means that children whose parents did not grow up in the same area or who didn’t go to secondary school have less of a chance of getting a place in their local school.”

28 June 2017

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