Press Release: Senator Bacik Welcomes Publication of Patronage Report

10 April 2012


Senator Ivana Bacik
Labour Party Seanad Group Leader
10th April 2012

Senator Ivana Bacik today welcomed the publication of the Report of the National Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, saying:

“Fundamental changes to the current denominational structure of primary schooling in Ireland are long overdue. For many years now, it has been clear that increasing parental demand for multi-denominational education is not being met by a system of over 3,000 national schools, of which less than 60 are multi-denominational. I very much welcome the report of the Forum, and the timeline it provides for the transfer or divestment of patronage in areas where parental demand is clearly not being met. I also welcome the recommendations providing for greater inclusivity in stand-alone denominational schools.”

“However, I am concerned that there will still be significant delays with the implementation of any real change. I urge the Minister and the relevant Patrons to move swiftly to ensure that some increase in provision of multi-denominational places is made immediately. In particular, I urge rapid implementation of the Report's recommendation that where very significant demand for a new school type has already been evidenced, the Department of Education should prioritise this so that a building can be made available from existing school stock, without the need for the phased divestment process to take place.

“I am also concerned that the Report's recommendations must be implemented swiftly to ensure protection of children's rights to education within denominational schools, particularly children of a minority religion or whose parents are of no religion. I welcome the recommendation that Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools*should be deleted, and I hope we will see real change to ensure greater inclusivity, with faith formation or religious instruction classes taking place outside of the school day, or at the end of the school day. This would be in accordance with the Report's recommendation that “sacramental preparation, or education for religious rites of other belief systems, should not encroach on the time allocated for the general curriculum”.

Until the Report's recommendations are implemented, the reality is that, in the vast majority of our national schools, children remain segregated according to religion during the school day.”


*Rule 68 states that: Of all parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject matter, God's honour and service, includes the proper use of all man's faculties, and affords the most powerful inducements to their proper use. Religious Instruction is, therefore, a fundamental part of the school course, and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school.