No Catholic need apply – for a bus pass to a “Protestant” school?

A Limerick Catholic family have had the application for free bus passes for their two children to attend Villers School turned down on “religious grounds” (subs reqd). Despite the school being multi-denominational in its intake the local Vocational Education Council said:

“Villiers School is a school under Protestant management and only children of Protestant denominations have an entitlement to transport on the The Special Adare Villiers School Bus Service.”

  • Aodh Ruadh

    Nice one, and people actually wonder why prods do not want a united ireland!

  • Garibaldy

    Cheap free state so and so’s. Ban faith schools = problem solved.

  • maura

    ‘Ban faith schools = problem solved. ‘

    If however, faith schools are to be attended, then all costs of attending those school, including travel, should be met by the families, whatever their religion.

  • willis

    Fair Deal

    There are many more than two pupils in Northern Ireland who would like to attend Integrated Schools but cannot because the places are not available.

    I’m assuming you will be covering this local problem soon.

  • terry

    as a republican, I see this as pure, naked sectarianism against protestant schools.

    Although it’s outside his portfolio, I would be interested to hear Michael McDowell’s views on this policy

  • heck

    fair deal

    you are really scraping the bottom. You have gone from a broken window in ballygobackwards orange hall and some drunken S. Armagh farmer buying his cigarettes in Dundalk to Mrs O’leary’s little Bridget not getting a bus pass.

    Do you spend all your time looking for evidence that the fenians are bad and out to undermine your “good wee ulster”?

  • fair_deal
  • Canadian

    What year is this again?

    I don’t know how it works in NI but, up here there are three school boards (Public, Catholic and Private) and depending on what school you send your kids to your taxes go to that board.

  • ben

    Why is it after 400 years of knocking people the shit out of each other using religious doctrine as an excuse, authorities think that encouraging that religious doctrine is a good thing?

    Get religion out of schools entirely. Teach children science, logic, reasoning and all the other real subjects and help society grow out of its superstitious morass. Even if your stupid fairy stories about messiahs and prophets were true, they do nothing but harm in the real world. Grow up and put your childish superstition aside.

  • Rory

    But this is not a sectarian issue. There is not an issue that the children were formerly catholic and, now converted to protestanism, ask for travel funding to attend a school of their new found denomination. It is that the parents, perceiving that the Villiers School offers better educational opportunities for their extra special darlings are now seeking state funding to support that privelege over and above other children in their area. No authority could properly concede to that demand. Let the parent’s either pay for the privelege or seek funding elsewhere.

    Perhaps Fair Deal will, out of compassionate concern, cough up.

  • Nic

    Anyone else remember the case recently in Holland where a male youth was refused entry to some school with a particularly strict “religous ethos”? Get this: they refused on the basis that his parents allowed his sister to wear trousers around the house, which they consider inappropriate and immoral. The family sued ….and lost.

    One man’s discrimination, another man’s freedom of worhsip, wha?

  • willis

    Fair Play Fair Deal

    That was a good post back in March.

    I particularly liked this line

    “Our education sector is also the finest demonstration of wasteful sectarian duplication.”

    You are known to be close to the thinking of the DUP (hence your nom-de-guerre) but not a member.

    How do you react to this from Sammy Wilson?

    ” Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): I am sure that the Minister views with horror the prospect of standing at the Dispatch Box in 30 years’ time as the Minister with responsibility for education in Northern Ireland. Does she accept that having six different education providers in Northern Ireland has wasted resources and contributed to the overcapacity in school provision to which she referred? Will she explain to the House why she did not take the chance that she had under the review of public administration to cut the number of funded providers and why she continues to open Irish-medium schools and integrated schools, for example, in areas where there is a surplus—”

  • Rory


    At first when I read your contribution on Dutch girls wearing trousers etc. I wondered “what has this to do with the price of fish?”. It seemed just such a non sequiter to the discussion established by Fair Deal that I thought it was best, in kindness, simply to ignore it.

    But, after thought, I realised how very wrong I was.

    I presume that the school in Holland was a private strict Muslim school and that the ethos would be that a family who allowed their daughter to wear trousers at home were not likely to provide the kind of “good influence” on the boy that the school wanted transmitted to other pupils. If parents sent the boy to a private school with such rules and then broke the rules they agreed to abide by then – tough! The court decided properly within contract law – the parents choose to accept the contract and then broke it.

    But the “price of fish” started me thinking about the red herring set swimming here by Fair Deal. What he is attempting to do is to purvey this issue as one of a sectarian fish in a school when it is simply a different category of creature altogether, a mammal, a benign, anti-discriminatory whale of governmental refusal to discriminate by providing selective travel funding to one family because they elect for priveleged education of their children outside of their own area.

    Imagine if Fair Deal asked the UK government for funding so that his children could attend a prestigious Catholic public school such as Clongowes Wood, alma mater to James Joyce. Or perhaps Downside Abbey in England would be more apposite.



    That last post leaves you in real danger of dissappearing up your own arsehole in pursuit of your own train of thought. Which is a shame because I liked the first post you made in this thread, I knew if I hung around long enough you would say something I agreed with.

    Now you’re probably wondering how long you will have to wait until I return the favour…..

  • Rory

    As you will, TAFKABO.

    I don’t suppose you have an opinion of your own on this issue which you would care to share with us?

    Honestly, I promise not to love you any the less even if I disagree with it.


    Well, since I said I liked your first post on the thread, you might have deduced that my thoughts on the matter ran along similar lines.

    I detest the idea of religious or denominational schools to begin with, but freedom means the freedom to voluntarily enslave yourself to some archaic mumbo jumbo about some big guy who lives in the sky and tells you how to live your life.

    When I see what’s happening in Lebanon, suddenly the notion someone might have to pay their own bus fare, just to be indoctrinated into some popular cult, doesn’t seem like such a big problem after all.

  • Niall Gormley

    I think people are missing the point here. The reason that protestant schools receive additional transport resources is so that protestants will have the same right to send kids to the school of their choice as catholics.

    Growing up in Cavan, I walked home from school while my protestant neighbours drove past in a car paid for by the state. The reason for this is that protestants are in the minority and need to come from a much wider catchment area. If no public transport was provided the protestant school would have had to close. I never heard anyone object to this.

    Obviously then, if you make this exception, you’ve got to take into account who is catholic and who is protestant. I’m guessing here, but I would assume that the Limerick catholic family have a catholic school closer to them, so that for the state to offer to pay their fare to attend a school outside their local catchment area would actually be paying for privilige. Furthermore, the local catholic schools might get the hump over the state paying for students within their natural catchment area to go elsewhere.

    I’m confused as to people’s attitudes here. Do people think that this is a case of discrimination against the protestant school?

    BTW in my local town here in Cavan we have two schools, one catholic and one CofI which caters for a range of protestant denominations. The CofI school has two teachers for 16 students while the catholic school has four teachers for around a hundred students. I’m told that the catholic school has as many protestant children as the protestant school. The phenomenom is, apparantly, that protestants coming into the area (English, etc) want their kids to attend the mainsteam (ie, catholic) school where all the kids are local, while local protestants want to keep their school open and to do this the kids come from a wider area.

    Its a complicated situation which has evolved over time and which nobody here gets too uptight about. Of course, if it happened a few miles north everybody would be running around like headless chickens trying to prove that they were victims of some form of odious discrimination.

  • willis


    Yes it would seem that Protestant children in the Republic have been getting a very FAIR DEAL.

  • Rubicon

    Since the family concerned live in Adare there would be many schools closer to them than Villiers. I can’t see this as anything other than the logical out working of providing denominational schooling.

    Villiers is established with the purpose of providing a protestant education for protestants as requested by protestants. Villiers is not a ‘state school’ as might be understood here. If the family were concerned to have their children attend a non-denominational school then other schools are closer and fit the bill better.

  • Rory

    Thank you, Niall. You have explained simply the truth of the matter and why the authorities quite reasonably turned down the application for transport costs.

    But we don’t often let inconsequential considerations such as the truth get in the way of a good piece of sectarian propaganda slinging here on Slugger as I’m sure you’ve gathered.

  • fair_deal


    1. As I pointed out in the same thread “Falling pupil numbers are making new integrated schools a less viable option”
    2. His general point is reasonable as there is an illogicality to schools with higher numbers under threat of closure while new smaller schools are opened in the same area. A community losing its school will be driven by practical concerns not the aims of broader policy e.g. language revival.
    3. Building unsustainable schools is not good for any sector. The integrated sector probably has to get away from thinking of new buildings and getting schools to opt into the sector.
    4. As I understand it DUP policy is for a single secular system.

  • Rory

    By the way, Fair Deal, why is this particular thread in ‘cinemascope’? It does make it difficult to read and impossible to scan a whole line at a glance.

  • Animus

    Thanks for the illustration Niall.

    Fair Deal – Two existing schools in my area have decided to go for integrated status. The integrated sector is obviously looking at ways to change existing schools – it’s not a one track way of setting up schools, their thinking is not as restricted as some commentators would lead us to believe.

    The schools estate is in bad repair. It may well be cheaper to build a new school in a more amenable location than to adapt one terrible building which may be less attractive to a significant portion of the catchment area.

  • willis

    Fair deal

    I will reply more later as you have given me quite a bit to work on.

  • Keith M

    There are two very different issues here and they appear to have becomed muddled.

    Firstly the issue at hand. It is disgraceful that Catholic children are not being treated equally with regard to transport because their parents have chosen a non Catholic school. I happen to come from Limerick and my father went to Villiers. It has a very good reputation and I could understand why people would want to send their children there.

    Secondly the issue of churches having a role in education. I believe that state schools (those funded by the taxpayer) should have any interference from or role for any faith group. I do think that a basic and agreed moral code should be taught as part of life skills, but that’s it.

    On the other hand, I do do think that parents have the right to send their children to faith based schools if they so desire. As long as a common carriculum is used and the parents are willing to pick up all the costs involved, these schools can and should continue.

  • fair_deal


    Sorry my fault due to the link I included in one of my posts but I don’t know how to fix it.


    I am sorry I didn’t intend my comments to read as if there should be an effective moratorium on new school building.

  • willis

    Fair Deal

    Use a hyperlink

    To hyperlink use: [a href=“http://Internet URL goes here”]text the visitor sees[/a]. Then change [&] to < &>.

  • fair_deal


    I can never get it to work for me whatever I am doing wrong

  • dub

    i see that keith m. has a very profound knowledge of how the republic’s education system works. fyi, keith, there is no state school system in the republic…under the constitution the govt. provides FOR education but does not provide it… now get your anglo-centric cromwellian brain around that, read the relevant sections in JM Kelly’s Irish Constitutional Law and come back to us some time in the future when you have actually digested the cultural social and legal reality of life in the state known as Ireland or Eire…

    for fair deal, this is an example of the positive discrimination the Irish State has operated since its inception in an absolutely up front way to preserve as much as possible the existence of protestant national and secondary schools…. is that a problem for you??

    british style modernisation of our education systems north and south along the lines of dup/fair deal and british wannabe keith m. would have the wonderful result of eradicating all indigenous and organic schools we have on this island, protestant, catholic and dissenter and force us all in to a one size fits all system…

    that is not how i define progress….

    if you can get your heads around this, fair deal and keith m, then one day you just might understand how it was that casement and pearse ADMIRED the UVF of their day…. but i fear that the subtleties and nuances of irish life are beyond both of you…


  • smcgiff

    Well said… The #1 post on this thread is very telling. It’s automatically assumed that a thread on Protestantism in the Republic must show anti-Protestant bias. The best thing that can be said here is that Northern Ireland has its fair share of fools!

    I’m living in the Limerick/Clare region for the last 10+ years and my knowledge of Villiers was that it was a fee paying secondary school and cost upwards of €2k PER TERM per child to attend (maybe someone has exact figures). It was news to ME that it had a Protestant ethos – but it doesn’t stop it from being the most sought after school in Limerick.

    My (Catholic) nephews in North Cork wish to travel to a different (Catholic) school than the one available in their local area, and though the school bus passes their house they are not allowed to use it. The reasons for such have been detailed above.

    What was wrong about the message given by (I think) Limerick VEC was that the word Protestant was used. It needed not to have been as far as I know, even if it were the case that places were being kept to be used by Protestant children.

    Sorry, no Protestant abuse here.

  • willis

    Fair Deal

    I would love to see a link to the DUP in favour of a single secular school system.

    If anything falling school rolls make integrated education more of a priority.

    The DUP want failing Head Teachers and Teachers sacked but they want to keep schools that have falling rolls.

    An increasing number of parents and children want an integrated education and the DUP want to keep them in segregated schools.

    Consider this quote from “Promoting Education Excellence” still on the DUP site.

    Efficiency could be improved by reducing:
    • Current number of Education and Library Boards
    • Number of education providers. The DUP advocates a
    single education provider rather than the current seven.
    Is there really any need for a separate provider of integrated
    education when many controlled and voluntary grammar
    schools are more integrated than some of those controlled
    by NICIE?

    This contains a factual inaccuracy. NICIE is not an education provider. Integrated schools are administered by the education boards.

    It also contains a total misunderstanding of what integrated education means. It is not just the proportion of pupils in a school but the culture and ethos of the school.

    Does BRA have a camogie team?

    This has been a very interesting thread, and has certainly helped me to understand why the Tories have such respect for the Irish Education system.

  • fair_deal


    From your comments I think you imagine the DUP to be a greater opponent than they actually are. I also think you may have got caught in the detail i.e. how to expand the integrated sector within the present system while I am more of the view of sod the present system. The falling school rolls means a few tough decisions have to be made and though they may not always be to the advantage of the integrated sector they still have to be taken.

    On the form of system the DUP want my understanding is based on three matters.

    I talked over the issue with a DUP MLA saying the DUP should advocate the establishment of a single secular system. He told me that already was their policy but they didn’t proclaim about it too much publicly as it would be counter-productive to its achievement ie as a key opponent is the Roman catholic church if the DUP advocate it then it would not be discussed on its merits but presented as catholic-bashing. An argument that has a point but as the Catholic community are increasingly opting into the controlled sector it is becoming less legitimate and IMO it is too important an issue to dodge becuase of the flak, better to push through it.

    It was re-iterated in a speech at the last Party Conference (I think by George Dawson where he outlined the party position – the DUP site has an automatic date cut off on the site so I can’t provide a link). There was also a “Let’s talk” debate in which when Alasdair McDonnell said he was open to discussing such a system that Diane Dodds said it was their party’s position.

    As for inaccuracies in their policy documents email them.

  • Steaky

    “As I understand it DUP policy is for a single secular system.”

    Hang on, I actually though this thread was boring and then this bombshell, a political party in Northern Ireland actually has a policy on something. Well fair play to the DUP, that should win them an election at a canter!

  • dub

    fair deal,

    so let’s just get this straight: u think that the republic’s bending over backwards to PRESERVE Protestant ethos schools in the republic is a disgrace and discriminatory to protestants… so you would like a secular one size fits all system in the republic would you that would mean the extinction of the distinctice protestant ethos and all schools coming under a de facto catholic ethos (as state schools in the north are currently de facto protestant ethos)??

    and in the north you want all schools to come under a singular secular system which would mean the extinction of the distinctive catholic ethos and all schools being effectively protestant ethos???

    well at least you are consistent… liquidate cultural minorites…

  • fair_deal


    Please try and keep it rational. I never advocated liquidating anyone. Many other bodies would continue to exist to communicate identity to future generations.

    In a secular system the ethos is not defacto any religious background.

  • seanniee

    I thought there was a “HOLOCAUST” of Protestants in the South after 1922.Only the DUP would be silly enough to make those claims.Which goes to show how silly they are.

  • kensei

    “Please try and keep it rational. I never advocated liquidating anyone. Many other bodies would continue to exist to communicate identity to future generations.”

    That’s nice. I want my future children to go to a Catholic school, because I am a Catholic and think it’s importnat to their Catholic education. Happy for other children to go wherever their parents want. Kindly butt out of my life with social engineering measures.

  • dub

    fair deal,

    i am being rational. a single secular system in a country like ours (i mean north and south) with communities with profoundly different historical experiences, profoundly different allegiances and profoundly different outlooks on life in general would mean an automatic victory for the numerically superior ethos in either jurisdiction. this would lead to Metaphorical liquidation of minority cultures… not my idea of progress. surprised that you dont see the value of church of ireland schools in the south.. a lot of catholics see value in them and send their kide there. more real genuine ecumenism and mutual respect can come you see when you give people real choices… that’s one of the reasons that the south has such a good education system… i have spoken to gregory campbell of the dup about this and he certainly was prepared to admit that he admired the system in the south…he wanted for the protestants of the north the possibility of something like the catholics of the north have and the protestants of the south have.. the option of going to a school that accords with the holistic spiritual religious cultural and political values of their community IF THEY WANT TO…

    real choices lead to much more liberty and genuine tolerance… just go to Raphoe say in Co Donegal and compare it to say New Buildings down the road…

  • smcgiff

    When it comes to the specifics about a school’s denomination I agree with Fair Deal.

    While I believe a parent has the right to indoctrinate their progeny in their given religion (most likely indoctrinated themselves by their own parents), and go to schools with a particular ethos.

    I don’t think it should be the state’s role to fund them.

  • seanniee

    New Buildings is a BIG DUMP.

  • fair_deal


    1. Sending children to religious schools is a form of social engineering
    2. Send them to a religious school if you wish but it isn’t the state’s responsibility to pay for it.


    1. It isn’t an automatic victory for anyone, that is your assumption

  • Animus

    I don’t understand how a secular system will liquidate minorities. I am all for co-educational secular schooling. If you want to teach your child religion, you should have every right to do so. But why should I have to pay for it?

    Also, the differering histories in a place like Northern Ireland are not religious differences are they? Were that it was so simple.

  • Brian Boru

    Imagine if this was a Catholic-run multidenominational school doing something like this to Protestant childre. Then of course some on this forum would say it shows “Home Rule is Rome Rule”. Like to see if they will condemn this?

  • willis

    Fair deal

    Well I kinda agree with you on the DUP friend/foe.

    They contain some grown ups like the Robinsons/Dodds and other vacuous grand-standers like Sammy Wilson and Ian Og.

    However even in my wildest dreams I cannot imagine Diane Dodds supporting a secular school system. Think about evolution and intelligent design. Supporting a secular system would mean the DUP/FP advocating a system in which evolution was accepted as fact. It ain’t gonna happen.

    As for e-mailing the DUP about their inaccuracies. The Bele Tele is over Slugger like a rash – let them do the leg work and reap the reward.

  • Niall Gormley

    In most countries there’s no problem with denominational education. But in Northern Ireland society the education system divides along the same fracture as the sectarian division.

    Young people grow up without mixing with the other community. This obviously has the effect of intensifing the polarisation of society.

    So there’s a good case to be made that combating sectarianism is more important than satisfying parental choice ie that there should be compulsory integration. That might be a bit extreme but perhaps a pro-active policy of integrating and mixing schools should be tried.

    One other false point that people here are making is that catholics and protestants are not really entitled to state funding of their schools. Wrong. Catholics, protestants and taxpayers are all the same people and they are entitled to a say in how their money is spent.

    Generally, I’m against positive discrimination because some innocent individual has to pay for it in the end. I think the 50% police quota is just about tolerable given the importance and history of policing in Northern Ireland. But advocates should remember that it is protestant number 51 left out of a batch of 100 recruits who has to pay a personal price for Ireland’s conflict. That’s not fair either.

  • dub

    well fair deal i accept your point in a society like france or if we were starting from scratch here but we ain’t and yes it would be a victory for the catholics down south and the protestants up here if your plans were to be executed in the 2 jurisdictions as they now stand. fortunately what you are advocating in the south will never happen and i cant see the catholic schools in the north just folding up and dying. surely you should be concerned with the appallinly low educational achievements of the protestant working class… how about reforming the state sector to remedy this for starters and making it more appealing for catholics by letting in a more irish ethos… like gaelic games, irish language and history etc… then you might get more catholics going to state school and a lot more people could be educated together.. ie offer more choice but dont take away choices already there….


  • fair_deal


    “surely you should be concerned with the appallinly low educational achievements of the protestant working class”

    I am concerned about that and the massive savings in ending the sectarian duplication could help fund a sea change in the educational opportunities made available to them.

    “then you might get more catholics going to state school”

    This is already happening.

  • Keith M

    “i see that keith m. has a very profound knowledge of how the republic’s education system works. fyi, keith, there is no state school system in the republic…under the constitution the govt. provides FOR education but does not provide it…now get your anglo-centric cromwellian brain around that”

    Firstly I never said that there was state school system using your narrow definition of it..try getting your 20th century old style autthoritaian lefty brain around that.

    What I said that where there the state (i.e. the taxpayer) exclusivly provided the funding for a school, then no church should have any role in the management or education provided in that school.

    I believe that as the rights of the individual (parents and children) are paramount, there can be a role for faith schools as long as the work with an agreed curriculim and that they are not funded in any way by the taxpayer.

  • Shuggie McSporran


    “This is already happening.”

    Not to a huge extent, state schools continue to have limited appeal to catholics.

    Dub suggested “..making it more appealing for catholics by letting in a more irish ethos… like gaelic games, irish language and history etc…”.

    What is your opinion on that particular suggestion?

    (btw – good, interesting thread)

  • fair_deal


    On appeal the irish news had a piece about how there was a noticeable growth (I can’t remember the % though)

    No particular problems with that suggestion

  • But if the kids are being educated at a school, and there is a general practice of providing free transport to get kids to school, and there is already a bus running to that school, why should they not be able to get the bus on the same basis as any other pupil?

    It all seems a bit petty…