Ruairi Quinn refuses to implement UN Recommendations on the rights of the child.
Yesterday the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn published a draft Admission to Schools bill to regulate the admission of children to primary and post primary schools.
While the proposed measures in the bill are to be welcomed the Minister has done nothing about removing religious discrimination in access to education.
In 2006 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the state amend the existing legislative framework to eliminate discrimination in school admissions.
The Committee recommended that:-
“61. The Committee encourages the State party to take fully into consideration the recommendations made by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD/C/IRL/CO/2, para. 18) which encourages the promotion of the establishment of non-denominational or multi-denominational schools and to amend the existing legislative framework to eliminate discrimination in school admissions.”
In 2005 the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination had also Recommended that the state amend the legislative framework to eliminate religious discrimination.
This Committee stated that:-
“18. The Committee, noting that almost all primary schools are run by Catholic groups and that non-denominational or multi-denominational schools represent less than 1% of the total number of primary educational facilities, is concerned that existing laws and practice would favour Catholic pupils in the admission to Catholic schools in case of shortage of places, particularly in the light of the limited alternatives available. (article 5(d)(vii) and 5(e)(v))
The Committee, recognising the “intersectionality” of racial and religious discrimination, encourages the State party to promote the establishment of nondenominational or multi-denominational schools and to amend the existing legislative framework so that no discrimination may take place as far as the admission of pupils (of all religions) in schools is concerned.”
This government has done nothing to remove religious discrimination in access to education and will continue to undermine the rights of the child.
Refusing a child access to their local school because they are not a particular religion is religious discrimination. In this Republic we don’t refer to this behaviour as religious discrimination but like to call it a religious exemption. God forbid we would admit that Holy Catholic Ireland discriminates on religious grounds and denies children their human rights.
In 2009 the late Brian Lenihan informed the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that schools in Ireland were not private schools but were a partnership between the state and the relevant local parish.
This basically means that there is no separation of Church and State in the Irish education system.
When Ireland was up before the UN in 2006 this is what they told the UN:-
“27. Ms. KHATTAB asked whether denominational schools were private or whether they were part of the formal education system under the supervision of the Department of Education.
28. Mr. LENIHAN (Ireland) said that primary schools were not private religious schools but were funded by the Exchequer and involved a partnership between the State and the relevant local parish or sponsoring body, which included the coordinating body for multidenominational schools and the body for the promotion of the Irish language.”
In a Republic this so called partnership between Church and State discriminates on religious grounds and undermines the human rights of children.