ruairi.quinn to me
Thank you for your email. I enclose my latest press release on this subject, in light of the important speech made by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin last night.
Ruairi Quinn TD
Labour Party Spokesperson for Education and Science
STATEMENT BY RUAIRI QUINN TD
Labour Party Spokesperson on Education
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
QUINN WELCOMES ARCHBISHOP’S COMMENTS ON ROLE OF CHURCH IN EDUCATION
The Labour Party welcomes the recent comments made by Dr Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, about the need to review the role and the size of the Catholic Church in controlling 93% of the primary schools in the country. As he has indicated, that legacy of history no longer meets the reality of modern Ireland. Nor does it allow the Catholic Church to genuinely develop its own role as one of six patron groups in the country. The others are the Protestant Churches, the Muslim Community, the Gaelscoileanna Movement, Educate Together and recently the VEC sector.
Article 42 of the Republic’s Constitution recognises the primary role of parents in the education of their children. Access to a school with an ethos of the parent’s choice should be provided, where practical and feasible.
The Taoiseach and Minister for Education should take up the Archbishop’s suggestion of the establishment of a ‘National Forum on Education’ to explore the many issues that have to be resolved.
Labour has already called for the 18 Religious Orders, cited in the Ryan Report, to hand- over the legal ownership of the buildings and lands of their primary schools, with the assurance that those schools would continue to operate under their present Patronage arrangements. This measure would secure for the community that the school infrastructure would not be subject to an arbitrary selling off in order to raise funds. In addition, it would meet, in part, one of the unanimous demands of all parties in the Dáil. This was that the Religious Orders increase the contribution which they have already made to the overall costs of the Redress Board.
Archbishop Martin has previously indicated that he thinks that his archdiocese should cease to manage all of the 477 primary schools under his patronage. These schools are staffed by 8,298 teachers and cater for 127,814 pupils. Under his suggestion many of these schools could have, subject to his agreement, new Patrons, such as Educate Together, the Gaelscoileanna and perhaps the VECs. The remaining Catholic schools could enhance their own ethos with the involvement of committed practicising Catholic parents and their children.
There are complex issues to be discussed and resolved. Labour recognises that complexity and fully supports the Archbishop’s proposal. Labour is committed to the establishment of a genuine pluralism in our school system that would enable parents to make the choice they want for their children in so far as that is possible.
We call upon the Fianna Fail/Green government to show courage and leadership by establishing the Education Forum without delay.
Dear Mr R Quinn
Thank you for keeping me and my readers up to date on the latest developments
Your efforts are deeply appreciated