Education & Training Boards manage religious schools on behalf of the Catholic Church. Designated Community Colleges are religious and operate with a religious ethos. These Colleges are under the full patronage of Education and Training Boards and operate under the Model Agreement. This is an agreement signed between the ETB and a local Bishop or Religious congregation. They are referred to as State multi-Denominational Colleges, there is religious worship and instruction in the colleges and they have a specific religious ethos.
Human Rights law does not oblige any state to fund religious schools let alone provide religious education in public schools. In Savez Crkava “Rijec Zivota and Others v Croatia 9th March 2011 the European Court stated that:-
“57. Likewise, the right to manifest religion in teaching guaranteed by Article 9 § 1 of the Convention does not, in the Court’s view, go so far as to entail an obligation on States to allow religious education in public schools or nurseries.”
If the State decides to voluntarily provide Religious Education and Instruction in schools then it is obliged to do so without discrimination.
“The Court reiterates in this connection that the prohibition of discrimination enshrined in Article 14 of the Convention applies also to those additional rights, falling within the wider ambit of any Convention Article, for which the State has voluntarily decided to provide. Consequently, the State, which has gone beyond its obligations under Article 9 of the Convention in creating such rights cannot, in the application of those rights, take discriminatory measures within the meaning of Article 14. It follows that, although Croatia is not obliged under Article 9 of the Convention to allow religious education in public schools and nurseries or to recognise religious marriages, the facts of the instant case nevertheless fall within the wider ambit of that Article.”
In Ireland we have:-
1. Publicly funded religious (denominational) schools.
2. We also have publicly funded Community Schools and Comprehensive schools. The Supreme Court referred to these schools as denominational in nature.
3. Then we have State multi-Denominational schools that operate with a specific religious ethos which are referred to as multi-Denominational. They also have Religious Worship and Instruction. These are called Designated Community Colleges.
4. Last but not least we have State non-Denominational schools/multi Denominational that have Religious Worship and Instruction, these are called non-Designated Community Colleges.
In Ireland the terms Denominational, multi-Denominational, Interdenominational and non-Denominational are not legally defined. In 2007 the Dept of Education listed second level schools as follow:-
Church of Ireland 25
Interdenominational schools are Christians schools and in 2007 all VEC (now ETB) schools and colleges in Ireland were registered as Interdenominational. For no apparent reason other than it sounds better, their designation has changed from Interdenominational to multi-Denominational or non-Denominational. The Dept of Education stopped publishing the designation of schools in Ireland a few years ago but it was once available for all to see.