Secular body’s school patronage challenge fails

High Court rules fair procedures followed in appointing CETB to run Co Cork primary

Judge said Secular Schools Ireland had been  aware of the Minister’s requirements  and had failed to meet them. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Judge said Secular Schools Ireland had been aware of the Minister’s requirements and had failed to meet them. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

 

A secular schools body has lost its legal battle to become patrons of a new Co Cork primary school.

Mr Justice John Hedigan ruled “as correct and appropriate” a decision of the Minister for Education and Skills refusing an application by Secular Schools Ireland Ltd for patronage of the new Carrigtohill school due to open this month.

Secular Schools Ireland (SSI) had claimed in a High Court challenge that it had not been afforded fair procedures by the Minister in rejecting its application.

Judge Hedigan said that SSI had been fully aware of the Minister’s requirements with regard to a prescribed curriculum and other specific demands and had failed to meet them.

In a reserved judgment he said the State’s requirements towards any prospective patrons were “vital guarantees” to ensure the proper conduct of the school in question.

SSI, set up to promote secular child-centred coeducation, was one of four applicants seeking to manage the new school in Carrigtohill and had challenged the Minister’s decision that Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) should run the school.