Limerick school allows student opt out of religious education class

Student will have to remain in classroom in Castletroy College but will not have to participate

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has said parents have the right to decide whether or not their children attend religious education classes. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times.

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has said parents have the right to decide whether or not their children attend religious education classes. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times.

 

The board of management at a Limerick secondary school has agreed to allow a first year student opt out of a religious education course.

The board of management at Castletroy College met at a scheduled meeting on Monday evening where they considered a request by Paul Drury on behalf of his daughter.

A request from the student’s father was rejected last week by the school.

In a brief statement, issued after Monday night’s meeting, the school said Mr Drury had been informed of the board’s decision.

“Mr Drury requested that his daughter be allowed to opt out of the Religious Education course. Following discussion at a regular Board of Management meeting this evening, this request was agreed with immediate effect,” read the statement. “Mr Drury has been informed of this decision.”

The school explained afterwards that the student will have to remain in the classroom while the subject is being taught, but will not have to participate in the religious education class.

Mr Drury has welcomed the decision but did not wish to comment further.

When asked about the case earlier on Monday, the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan said parents have the right to decide whether or not their children attend religious education classes, and insisted the guidelines and law are clear on this.

“Clearly, I believe parents do have rights for their children not to attend religious education should they so wish,” Minister O’Sullivan said.

“I have had some discussion with the ETB and with people directly involved and I believe the issue will be dealt with today. But in general there is the right of parents to take the children out of religious education,” she said.

When asked for her advise for other parents who may come across this dilemma Minister O’Sullivan replied: “I hope parents do know their rights. They should approach the school if they wish to have their child exempt from religion and normally that is done first through the principal and if necessary through the board of management, so if there is clarity needed then we would be very happy to provide it.

“I do believe it is the right of parents; they are the primary educators of their children. It is their right to decide whether or not their child attends religious education.”