CofI schools under threat of exclusion, says Dublin bishop

Mon, Mar 5, 2012, 00:00

CHURCH OF Ireland schools were “under a creeping threat” and it was uncertain whether this was for “both economic and ideological” reasons, Archbishop of Dublin, Most Rev Michael Jackson has claimed.

“We are not sure, either, if we are in a cynical way being left to starve through atrophy,” he said on Saturday at a Church of Ireland Primary School Management Association conference in Dublin.

“We are not a fossil of a privileged past. We are not looking for the financially impossible in a world where public money is not available to us or to others. We are the citizens of today and tomorrow and we want to equip children, through the education which we offer in co-operation with the State, to contribute to tomorrow’s Ireland,” he said.

When it came to Government policy on national schools under Church of Ireland, and other Protestant churches, management, feeling had moved rapidly “from one of concern to one of alarm”, he said. Church of Ireland members had “long sought to take our place and to play our part in the life of communities . . . where we live and more widely. This is not sectarianism. Nor again is it superiority complex,” he said.

“It does, however, entail the desire to contribute to the public good and to the weave of our society the following: who we are and what we stand for – and what we share.”

He noted “small schools will be hit hard by the phased increase in pupil threshold for the allocation of teachers. While the needs of island schools and disadvantaged schools are to be considered in a special way, there is no clear suggestion that primary schools under Protestant patronage are to be afforded such consideration.”

A panel was to be set up for redeployment of teachers in the Gaelscoileanna to help preserve the Irish language while no special provision was given for Protestant schools, he said. “Our concern is to challenge the rhetoric of inclusivity when the schools under Protestant patronage are wilfully excluded from such provision.”