Nearly all second Level ETB/VEC schools have Catholic religious instruction and worship
Nearly all second level Education and Training Board Schools and Colleges have Catholic Religious Instruction and worship.
In an article in the Irish Times today about community and comprehensive secondary schools, the General Secretary of the Department of Education, Sean O’Foghlu, is quoted as stating that:-
“Seán Ó Foghlú said the 150 or so community and comprehensive secondary schools under religious patronage are legally obliged under deeds to serve the entire community”
“Many people in the past considered community schools as Catholic schools, he said.”
““There is an obligation to enrol regardless of faith tradition or none. Furthermore the religious education or worship to be provided is not determined by the wishes of a patron but the obligation in the deed to provide for the religious needs of those who actually attend the school,” said Mr Ó Foghlú.”
If this is an issue for Community Schools, then it is an issue for all ETB designated and non-designated community colleges and Vocational schools at second level. All these colleges and schools are obliged to have religious instruction and worship.
In reality, it is Catholic religious instruction and worship that takes place. This also means that the Catholic Church is in control over the hiring of religion teachers at second level. At present, the State is paying for the training of teachers to deliver Catholic Religious Instruction in these schools and colleges.
Designated Community Colleges are required to have Religious Instruction and worship under the model agreement. These Colleges are under the full patronage of the ETBs, and there are about forty of them in the country. As far as we are aware nearly all of them have Catholic religious instruction and worship.
Non-designated Community Colleges are obliged to have religious instruction and worship as per Circular 73 of 74 issued by the Department of Education in 1974. As with designated Community Colleges, this is nearly always Catholic Religious Instruction and worship. circular-1979 is also relevant here.
In addition to the above, Vocational Schools have Catholic Religious Instruction (Memorandum v.42 from 1942.).
State funding for religious instruction and worship in a particular religion is a substantial financial benefit to the Catholic Church, that other religions do not have at present. They are all entitled to it, and we all are obliged to fund it.
Sean O’Foghlu also stated that:-
“However, rapid changes in society – including different faith traditions and a decrease in religious practice – posed a challenge for these schools to become multidenominational in nature.”
Multi-denominational means that if the Catholics have religious instruction and worship, then the other various religions represented in the schools are entitled to it as well.
If you are atheist and secular, you will have to continue to fight to even opt your children out of religious instruction and worship. So there is no change for students from atheist and secular families with this news.