The Irish Republic’s Education Minister, Mary Hanafin, has defended the state practise of giving Protestant fee-paying schools (which make up over a third of such schools) twice as much funding as their Catholic counterparts.
The decades-long policy has come into the news after it emerged that one of Ireland’s most prestigious schools, St. Andrews in Dunlaoghaire, home of some of the wealthiest children in the country, was given 100% funding for an extension while down the road, CBC Monkstown, which charges less than half the €5,000 a year fees, only received 50% funding for its planned new school.”Since the foundation if the state, all parties and all governments have supported such schools, largely to protect choice and the ethos of minorities,” Hanafin said in the Dail, explaining the decision.
It has also emerged that the capitation grant of €300 per pupil, which is given to all non fee-paying state schools, is also given to all Protestant fee-paying schools but not to Catholic ones.
So far, no Catholic fee-paying schools are considering challenging the situation. Is such a policy justified on the grounds of protecting choice when these schools exclude most children because of the size of the fees they charge?