I heard that as well. I thought the INTO gave a very good answer to the question which was that he should look at the meaning of secular education. However Prof John Coolahan referred to Rules not the Constitution. I have never seen or read these Rules nor are they mentioned in the recent Report and Recommendations of the Irish Human Rights Commission. This Report goes into all the Rules and Regulations of the education system never mind the Law and Constitution.
In his paper Religion and Education – The Irish Constitution – presented by Gerry Whyte at the TCD/IHRC Conference on Religion and Education: A Human Rights Perspective, held on 27th November 2010 a ban on non-denominational education is not mentioned.
The Constitutional Review Group Report 1995 went into the details of the Constitutional provisions on education and religion and they did not refer to a ban on non-denominational education either.
On top of this the State in their Report to the Council of Europe in 2007 (GVT/COM/II(2007)001) said the following:-
“Vocational schools and Community Colleges provide education to approximately 30% of all second level students, and are administered by Vocational Education Committees (VEC), which are statutory bodies established under the Vocational Education, Act, 1930,, as amended. Consequently, schools administered by VECs are non-denominational.”
The above comments by the Irish State are still up on the Council of Europe website –(page 16) http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/mi ... and_en.pdf
Whether one can call some Community Colleges non-denominational is another matter but the Irish State claim they are. Now if the setting up of non-denominational schools was forbidden by the State why are they telling the Council of Europe that 30% of second-level schools in Ireland are non-denominational.
There is a view held by some religious people that the Irish Constitution forbids the setting up of non-denominational schools/secular schools. They believe secular education does not respect religious views so they claim that the constitution forbids the setting up of secular schools. Article 42.1 of the Irish Constitution obliges the State to respect parents’ religious and moral convictions etc., so according to them secular schools are forbidden by the Constitution.