Cut in grants to Protestant faith schools sparks debate

 

CUTS OF €2.8 million in grants for Protestant faith schools will have the "most serious implications" for the future of the Protestant community Ireland, the Dáil has heard.

Olivia Mitchell (FG, Dublin South) said an agreement was in place between the State and the schools for four decades, and the funding was used "exclusively to allow disadvantaged children attend a school with an ethos appropriate to their faith".

She said that "many of these schools are in existence for hundreds of years and I'm sure the Minister doesn't want to go down in history as the one who closed them down".

Minister of State Conor Lenihan, however, insisted that access by disadvantaged Protestant students to fee-paying schools would not be affected because this was protected through the Protestant schools' block grant.

Speaking for Minister Batt O'Keeffe who is currently in China, Mr Lenihan said it had been made clear the Protestant block grant of €6.25 million remained in place.

Mr Lenihan said 21 of the 56 fee-paying schools in the State were Protestant. There were "no changes to the block grant to Protestant schools" which "covers payment, tuition and boarding grants".