Judgment reserved on secular body’s school patron challenge

Secular Schools Ireland claims it was not afforded fair procedures before application rejected

Image from a website promoting a proposal for a secular primary school in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork.

Image from a website promoting a proposal for a secular primary school in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork.

 

The High Court has reserved judgment in an action brought by a secular schools body over a decision that an education and training board should run a new primary school due to open in Co Cork next September.

Secular Schools Ireland Ltd (SSI), which was one of four applicants seeking to open the new school in Carrigtwohill, claimed it was not afforded fair procedures before its application to become patron was rejected.

The Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) was chosen by the Minister for Education and Skills to act as patron. The action is against the Minister, Ireland and the Attorney General, who have had opposed the action.

Child-centred co-education

SSI was set up to promote secular child-centred co-education.

Represented by Gerard Humphreys BL, SSI sought orders quashing the Minister’s decision to refuse to consider its application for patronage of the new school. The June 10th, 2015, decision stated the application had been “deemed invalid”.

It also seeks to quash the decision to award patronage of the school to the CETB. It claims the Minister failed to afford SSI the opportunity to address the purported invalidity of its application or to address any concerns the department may have had.

The State respondents, represented by David Hardiman SC, reject the SSI’s claims and say the Minister’s decision should remain undisturbed.

At the High Court on Friday, after hearing submissions from both parties, Mr Justice John Hedigan said he was reserving his decision. The judge said he hoped to be in a position to give his judgment as soon as possible.