Clare Daly, Socialist Party TD for Dublin North asked the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn about the classification of schools. Apparently in Ireland there is a distinction between the classifications of schools by the Department on the basis of the ethos of the schools as against that of the governance structures of the schools. This means that a school could have a religious ethos but the Government can tell the UN that it is non-denominational. An example of this is Designated Community Colleges at second level. These schools are under the full patronage of the VEC but operate a religious ethos.
One of the Recommendations of the Irish Human Rights Commission in their report last year is that the state should define legally the terms non-denominational, denominational, multi-denominational and interdenominational.
Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the reason Ireland mislead the UN
Human Rights Committee by rejecting the request to eliminate religious
education on the grounds that there are a growing number of non-denominational
schools, when in fact there are no non-denominational schools registered with
- Clare Daly.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 27th March, 2012.
Reference Number: 16523/12
Minister Ruairí Quinn
I wish to assure the Deputy that Ireland did not mislead the UN Human Rights
Committee in any way in relation to this matter.
The UNHRC request in question related to the elimination of religious
discrimination in access to education. Ireland did not accept this. There is a
growing non-denominational school sector in Ireland, particularly at primary
level. These schools cater for all pupils and there is no denominational
involvement in their governance. The existing system of school admissions is
currently under review, and issues of access are being considered as part of
that review process. Religious groups are free to establish their own schools
to cater for members of their particular faith. This religious freedom is a
core element in our system at primary and secondary level.
I would like to clarify for the Deputy that there is a distinction between the
classification of schools by the Department on the basis of the ethos of the
schools as against that of the governance structures of the schools.