Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Issues relating to promoting a secular state education and raising children in a non-religious home
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mkaobrih
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by mkaobrih » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:22 am

article in today's IT
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opi ... 60815.html
OPINION: There is a huge danger of a two-tier system developing in the Irish primary school sector

THE NATIONAL forum on the structure of the Irish primary school system launched this week by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn opens a unique opportunity for a return to basic democratic principles in the education of children.

That is, equal access to all children in State-funded schools and respect for freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as they were largely set out in the rules for national schools until 1965 (which provided for combined secular and separate religious instruction for all children, “without interference with the religious tenets of any pupil”).

This forum is a recognition that the diversity of Irish society is not fully reflected in the system and that it is time to envisage structural reforms. It is an implicit acceptance that religious discrimination is a serious issue at primary level and that it should be addressed by the State.

For this debate to lead to an Irish education system that will answer the needs of the diverse Irish society, surely the issue should be looked at first in terms of the common good of Irish society and with a view to ensuring democratic control and fundamental individual rights such as freedom of thought, conscience and religion for all Irish citizens and future citizens?

As Desmond M Clarke pointed out in Church and State in Ireland – essays in political philosophy (Cork University Press, 1985), such basic human rights do not depend on any majority or minority perspective: what is at stake is not the relative numbers of citizens holding a certain view, but whether their constitutional rights should be respected.

From this perspective, I would argue that the various private patrons are not best suited to participate in such a discussion on the future of the education system, given that they are bound to favour their sectoral interests and a relative status quo with a patronage system that gives them superior rights to those of parents and individual citizens in the 1998 Education Act. Any democratic debate should then strive to give a voice to the people.

This contribution is prompted by the Minister’s suggestion of half the State-funded primary schools in private, mostly denominational hands, the other half being presumably constituted of multidenominational community schools.

There is a huge danger of a two-tier system in which parents who can exercise choice would choose the less inclusive – or more exclusive – one. The experience of many countries with such a primary school sector supports such a view.

Overall, such a “solution” would serve to reinforce religious and, most likely, social segregation.

Ruairí Quinn has said he is a republican with a profound respect for diversity; what better chance to implement such principles than by ensuring the fundamental rights of all individuals are equally respected in all State-funded schools and that diversity is reflected in each school as it is in society?

Karin Fischer is a lecturer in Irish and British studies and joint editor of Etudes Irlandaises at the faculty of arts and humanities at the Université d’Orléans in Orléans, France
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by Marks » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:04 pm

Thanks for that.

"From this perspective, I would argue that the various private patrons are not best suited to participate in such a discussion on the future of the education system, given that they are bound to favour their sectoral interests and a relative status quo with a patronage system that gives them superior rights to those of parents and individual citizens in the 1998 Education Act. Any democratic debate should then strive to give a voice to the people."


Atheist Ireland was not asked to participate in the Forum as we are not a direct provider of education. We were invited to the launch of the Forum on Education and can make a submission. Michael Nugent did write to the Minister with regard to this issue.

We are people who the UN point out are denied basic fundamental rights, yet we were not invited.
The organisations that were invited all support the patronage system whereas we do not because under the patronage the State cedes control to the interests of private bodies and Boards of Management. This system denies us the right to an effective remedy under Article 13 of the European Convention Human Rights and that will not change as long as the patron system is in place. Schools are not ‘organs of the state’ under the patronage system and we therefore cannot hold the state responsible for the protection of our human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights Act or any human rights treaty that Ireland has ratified.
The Irish Human Rights Commission will publish their recommendations next month and I am hoping that they will point this issue out as I'm not sure that there is anyone else listening.
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by mkaobrih » Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:37 pm

Marks wrote:The following is a link to themes for written submissions. Submissions must be in before 7th of June and we will be making one of course.

http://www.education.ie/servlet/blobser ... ssions.pdf
I’ve read the links and It looks like they are looking for no cost solutions to redress the imbalance – I’d say moving from faith formation to within school hours (FISH) to faith formation outside school hours (FOSH) would be easiest and cheapest
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by mkaobrih » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:56 am

Article it today's IT
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/edu ... 69790.html
The Catholic Schools Partnership is wrong to oppose the Quinn plan
TALK BACK: The transfer of 50 per cent of schools out of Catholic patronage is good for civil society, writes BRIAN MOONEY

THE POSITION paper issued last week by the Catholic Schools Partnership (CSP) – the new umbrella group for Catholic schools – represents the opening salvo in what is likely to be a long war on school patronage.

Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn wants 1,500 schools (about 50 per cent of all primary schools) transferred to other patrons.

But achieving this will be a very tall order.

The CSP paper outlines the value of Catholic schools as places where the emphasis is on “the dignity of the human person as a child of God called to work with other persons in creating an inclusive community in service of the common good.”

It argues that a transfer of patronage should only take place where sufficient demand for a school under different patronage can be demonstrated, following some pilot projects, and only after dialogue with the local community.

Who could possibly argue with this very reasonable approach to this issue?

Well I think the CSP is wrong to oppose the Quinn plan.

I believe that the minister’s initiative is a very positive one. If implemented will greatly strengthen both Irish society and the Catholic Church.

Some teachers who know me may be surprised by these views, coming from an ex-seminarian and someone with 20 years experience of religious education. I have also acted as course co-ordinator to the post- graduate religious education programmes in UCD over 15 years.

Here’s my reasoning.

I believe that there is nothing more destructive to the faith of a child than to be catechised and prepared for sacraments by teachers who are not themselves practising Catholics.

It is a lose-lose situation.

The teachers can resent having to do this work. It teaches the child at a very early stage in their personal development that it is okay to say one thing, and believe something completely different. Where has that insight led us to as a society?

The current situation is unsatisfactory in another way. At the moment all schools can give preference to applicants within their own faith community. I spoke recently to a parent who declared himself an agnostic. He was forced to obtain a baptismal certificate for his child in order to enrol him at the local school of his choice.

What does this say to the fellow pupils of that child?

They find themselves queuing up to receive confirmation with someone who openly declares that they have never been in a church before and may never be again.

I believe this kind of hypocrisy undermines our civic society and personal morality. And we have had very serious failures of business ethics in this society in the past two decades.

It is for these reasons that I support the minister’s proposals to give real choice to parents.

If parents and teachers have a real choice – between a school where Catholic faith formation is an integral part of the curriculum and an alternate patronage model - it will result in a far healthier civic society.

And a far healthier Catholic Church.

Brian Mooney is a guidance counsellor at Oatlands College, Stillorgan, Dublin

Some teachers who know me may be surprised by these views, coming from an ex-seminarian and someone with 20 years experience of religious education
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by Feardorcha » Mon May 16, 2011 9:57 am

Brian Mooney is representative of an element in the Catholic Church that would be happy, I suspect, to shed the token church members - those who don't participate and probably don't believe, but turn up for weddings and funerals without a clue of the doctrine and practices. If I were a member, I would be of a like mind.
If there was some cachet to being a member of AI, such as improved job prospects, the chance of a Dail seat or a job in RTE, then we would have all sorts of knaves joining us.
Its good to see there are some Catholics who want their organisation to stick to its core principles and don't want to hang on to temporal power through coersion. We in AI should be able to make common cause with such people.

By the way, Mkaobrih would it be helpful for individuals to send submissions to Ruairi Quinn's commission or would that just muddy the water? I suspect every religious zealot in the country is filling reams of paper with theological ramblings.
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by mkaobrih » Mon May 16, 2011 10:20 am

Feardorcha wrote:By the way, Mkaobrih would it be helpful for individuals to send submissions to Ruairi Quinn's commission or would that just muddy the water? I suspect every religious zealot in the country is filling reams of paper with theological ramblings.
He’s looking for specific answers that don’t cost anything to these questions.
1. How it can best be ensured that the education system can provide a sufficiently diverse number and range of primary schools catering for all religions and none.
2. The practicalities of how transfer/divesting of patronage should operate for individual primary schools in communities where it is appropriate and necessary.
3. How such transfer/divesting can be advanced to ensure that demands for diversity of patronage can be identified and
met on a widespread basis nationally.
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by Tulip1 » Mon May 16, 2011 10:37 am

What is the closing date?
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by mkaobrih » Mon May 16, 2011 11:40 am

Submissions should be sent to patronageforum@education.gov.ie or to Breda Naughton, Secretary to the Forum, Department of Education and Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1 by Tuesday, 7 June 2011. Submissions should be accompanied by the Submission Form overleaf.
http://www.education.ie/home/home.jsp?p ... anguage=EN
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by Tulip1 » Mon May 16, 2011 2:28 pm

Thanks mkaobrih, cool I wll submit one as well then, last exam on the 26th so plenty of time!
Pope says atheists pick & choose their morals. Correct. Today I will be frowning on child abuse & not having a problem with homosexuality.
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Re: Ruairi Quinn plans forum on removing Catholic Patronage

Post by Feardorcha » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:43 pm

Educate Together has some helpful advice for those sending submissions to the patronage forum here: http://www.educatetogether.ie/press-rel ... heard-now/
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