Irish schools should be ‘returned’ to the State from Church…

Garret FitzGerald argues that the Republic should return to the status quo from before the state ‘gifted’ a large chunk of the school estate to the Catholic Church:

This unique educational structure appears to have remained unchanged under British rule and thereafter until 1971, when over 90 per cent of our primary schools were made integrally Catholic – on the grounds that “the separation of religious and secular instruction into differentiated subject compartments served only to throw the whole educational function out of focus”.

I believe that the 1971 decision was a mistake. With some practical adjustments, including a diversification of the patronage system, the pre-1971 system might have continued to be defensible as in principle providing an education open to all.

But once over 90 per cent of our schools became integrally Roman Catholic, a demand for non-religious schools was bound to grow rapidly, and, given the requirements of Article 42 of our Constitution protecting parents’ rights in this area, the State cannot resist such a demand.


  • pippakin

    The state cannot resist such a demand? The state should be, and I hope are, about to take the primary schools out of the RCC grasp, which is a start.

    The educational system in the south would be a credit to the country were it not for its unhealthy continuing subservience to the Church.

  • Taoiseach

    More delusional ramblings from Fitzgerald.

  • Alias

    “A good indication of the likely growth of the demand for non-religious education is provided by the rapidly rising proportion of couples who now choose civil as distinct from religious weddings.

    Data on this subject is currently in arrears, but figures for 2007 show that in the preceding 11 years the proportion of civil unions rose from 6 per cent to 23 per cent. In our cities between 36 and 40 per cent of marriages in 2007 were civil ceremonies.”

    Garret applies his usual flawed (and agenda-laden) reasoning. It doesn’t follow that the number of civil ceremonies have increased due to an increase in secularism. Civic ceremonies are increasingly popular as a cheaper alternative to the traditional marriage, so it is as likely to reflect an increase in the cost of ‘big’ weddings and a desire to save money.

    It is true, however, that the unprecedented influx of EU immigrants (a population increase of over 10% in 10 years) placed incredible strains on the education system and will mean that the cost to the state of providing secular education to the childern of these immigrants has increased and will increase dramatically as more of these immigrants have childern.

    That will undermine the ability of the nation to determine its education system according to traditional means but that is simply another cost of being in the EU.

  • This should happen absolutely, without delay or recompense.

    The Church has clearly and utterly destroyed any trust we can have in them. To leave the most vulnerable in society under their care is nothing short of criminal.

    Personally I’d be wary about letting a nun clean the floors of a caner ward.

  • Taoiseach

    Daniel – please cite examples of children abused within Catholic schools and compare with numbers on non-Catholic schools. And then tell us how many nuns you know teaching in schools.

  • wee buns

    The woefully underfunded primary or ‘national’ education system in the south has been limping along for decades held together only by parental contributions for running costs, the state paying something pathetic like 26c per child per day.
    Obviously there must be some financial incentive to keep the church involved, quite often schools are built on land donated by etc.
    My personal belief is that as a matter of principle the ‘god’ people should be firmly kept away from children. For matters of free thinking apart from anything else.
    Even though it is not legal to demand it (according to the constitution) many catholic primary schools ask for a baptism certificate on admitting the child. A request which in itself provides a strong incentive for parents to put their kids through tokenistic rituals of church, even when they themselves are non practicing.
    So it’s a big exercise in streaming church membership.

  • aquifer

    The ROI is thus a confessional state, so Unionists are quite entitled to keep the border in place to maintain their ‘civil and religious liberties’.

    If the IRA had any strategic vision they should have attacked the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Might be best if the unionists attended to civil and religious liberties of everyone in the north rather than just themselves. A good many of us would be impressed if the north achieved a decent separation between church and state too so. While you’re having a think about how/when to rid the UK of its ghastly monarchy, you’d have my full support to boot religious interference from any quarter and of any description in schools out of the way.