Cog Notes: A rare Fine Gael minister for education?
Plus: the Irish school patronage debate goes global
Cough, cough, pick me: Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton and Enda Kenny
It has been 30 years since Fine Gael last had a minister – Paddy Cooney – holding the levers of power on Marlborough Street. All ministers since have been either Fianna Fáil or Labour appointments, but a number of TDs say Enda Kenny has told them he wants one of their own in charge if Fine Gael is returned to government.
Sp, who is it likely be? Richard Bruton, the Minister for Jobs, has expressed an interest.
Simon Harris, the Wicklow- based Minister of State for Finance, has impressed in his role and is due a promotion to a senior ministry.
Meath-based Damien English, another minister of state, played a key role drawing up a national skills strategy.
Jim Daly, the Cork Southwest TD, might not be as well-known but has strong credentials. Daly is a former primary-school principal and secondary teacher. He is also a member of the Oireachtas education committee and has the ear of the Taoiseach on education matters.
Dún Laoghaire-based Mary Mitchell-O’Connor is another former school principal and chair of Fine Gael’s internal education committee.
If Fine Gael is returned, of course, it coaltion partners will have their own bright ideas over who should occupty the hot-seat.
Irish patronage debate makes global headlines
Some politicians are fond of claiming that the “baptism barrier” debate regarding Irish schools is just a local issue confined to oversubscribed schools in affluent parts of Dublin.
For a provincial issue, it is making international waves. The New York Times recently carried a large feature on the “Catholic Church’s hold on schools in a changing Ireland”.
Now Hindus across the globe have urged Pope Francis to “fix Ireland’s education system”as a matter or urgency.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says religion should not play any role in admissions to Irish schools.
“The practice of a religious majority controlling the school doors, and schools indulging in kind of state-sanctioned indoctrination is simply wrong and should end,” he says.
* This article was amended on February 19th, 2016