Bishops welcome Minister Hanafin’s announcement regarding additional model of primary school patronage

17 Feb 2007



Bishops welcome Minister Hanafin’s announcement regarding additional model of primary school patronage

Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Chair of the Education Commission of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, today welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education & Science, Ms Mary Hanafin, of her intention to pilot a new additional model of primary school patronage.

Bishop O’Reilly said: “The Constitution of Ireland provides for the education of children from all faiths and of none.  To this end the development of models of educational patronage is something desirable and welcome in contemporary Ireland.  The Catholic Church has always supported the rights of parents to establish schools that reflect the values of the home.”

“I especially welcome the assurance that ‘provision will be made within the school setting for the religious, moral and ethical education of children in conformity with the wishes of their parents.’”  Bishop O’Reilly noted that the above provision is underpinned by the rules for national schools (rule 68 and rule 69, Rules for National Schools under the Department of Education).

Bishop O’Reilly said: “We presume that the Minister’s assurance implies that the inspection of the teaching of religion, in the schools under the additional patronage, will be the responsibility of the appropriate religious authority.

“In terms of religious instruction, procedures need to be put in place to ensure that those entrusted with the teaching of religious education of the particular denomination are duly qualified and acceptable to the appropriate religious authority.  This is currently the case in existing models of school patronage at post-primary level in community schools, community colleges and comprehensive schools.  These provide for the religious education of pupils in accordance with their parents wishes.  This has served the Catholic community well.

“The Catholic Church, as an existing patron body, will continue to establish new schools in developing areas, and we also welcome the Minister’s assurance in this regard.”

Bishop O’Reilly concluded: “While welcoming this new model of patronage for primary schools, we reiterate our commitment to the ongoing provision of Catholic schools for the Catholic children of the parish irrespective of social or ethnic background. We wish to emphasize that while our obligation is to be at the service of Catholic parents who wish to have their children educated in the Catholic school; our schools are among the most welcoming and inclusive schools.  This is in large part a tribute to the principals, staffs and boards of management of our primary schools.”


Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)