Priority must be equal access to education for all children

January 16, 2017

The Social Democrats have welcomed the news today that Richard Bruton, Minister for Education, will finally address the baptism barrier, but have expressed regret that yet another consultation will mean any change to  the current discriminatory practice is unlikely to benefit children due to commence school this coming September.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall TD stated:
“The requirement that a parent must baptise their child in order for them to secure a place in their nearest publicly funded school is just outdated discrimination.”

“One of the most fundamental principles of a republic is that citizens are not discriminated against because of any faith they do or don’t profess. Yet every year, religious affiliation is the very basis on which access is denied to a vital public service – Education. Up to one in four parents feel they must baptise their children into a religion they don’t subscribe to in order to secure a place for their child in their local school.”

“Children as young as four are denied entry to their local state-funded school because they are not signed up to a particular religious belief. It is not tenable that this situation is allowed to continue any longer.”

“Even schools which do allow access to children of different faith, or no faith, continue to expose those children to a religious ethos to which they do not subscribe. This is entirely unacceptable.”

“In a modern democracy, our education system should reflect and respect the diversity of Irish society. We have long moved on from organised religion dominating the lives of a large proportion of people. Laws and public services need to catch up.”

“Minister Bruton must take the political courage necessary and make the decision to remove the baptism barrier in time for next September’s enrollment. If he doesn’t, the Social Democrats will introduce a Bill to do so.”

Ends.

16th January 2017