Catholic parents of girl in foster care objected to her attending CofI school

Judge accedes to Tusla application for child to attend Church of Ireland primary school

The Catholic parents of a child in foster care would not consent to her attending a Church of Ireland school, the latest issue of the Child Care Law Reporting Project reveals.

The research body reports that an application was made to the District Court by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (CFA), for the child to attend a primary school in a rural town.

The court heard the Catholic parents of the young girl were not consenting to her attending the Church of Ireland school on religious grounds.

The application was made under section 47 of the Child Care Act. The CFA’s social worker told the court that it was in the best interests of the child to attend the Church of Ireland primary school.


The foster parents’ own children attended this school and if the child attended a different school she would not feel as integrated into the foster family, according to the social worker.

The school had confirmed it would facilitate the child’s Catholic religious instruction with a local Catholic school for her first Holy Communion.

“The issues haven’t come up until now,” the social worker replied when asked by a solicitor for the father, who hails from another European Union country, what religion the child was being raised in by the foster family.

The mother’s solicitor asked: “Isn’t it fair to say no thought [has been] given to religious upbringing or the religion the child was born into? The child was in placement for two years.”

The CFA’s social worker said it had visited the family many times and the child was “very settled and happy”. “I have seen it first-hand. Religion never came up,” the social worker said.

The judge said there were merits advanced by the guardian ad litem, social worker and psychology expert regarding the local Church of Ireland school. “The problem is the question of religion. It has bedevilled this country for many a long year,” the judge said.

The judge noted there was a commitment given for the child to attend Mass and to offer Catholic religious education and in those circumstances the judge was happy to accede to the section 47 application for the child to attend the local Church of Ireland primary school.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times