Muslims say they cannot get into schools


CHILDREN WHO attend the Muslim primary school in Dublin's Clonskeagh are finding it increasingly difficult to get places at secondary schools in the area, a spokesman for the Islamic Cultural Centre has said. The children were born in Ireland and are Irish citizens.

Ali Selim said yesterday that the centre had received "a great number of complaints" from Muslim parents in south Co Dublin "regarding a limited number of schools that will only accept Catholic children". They are considering asking Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin to intervene, he said.

"I don't think this is right. All of us are taxpayers and preference should not be on the basis of religion or race. This is not a Muslim issue, it affects all non-Catholics."

He singled out two all-boy secondary schools for most attention.

They were St Benildus College on Upper Kilmacud Road and Oatlands College in Mount Merrion, both Catholic boys secondary schools. He said he would like to know how many non-Catholic pupils were in either school.

The principals of the two schools, Seán Mulvihill at St Benildus and Keith Ryan at Oatlands, have insisted there is no discrimination at either, alluding to the many boys of Muslim and other faiths in each school.

This is backed up by the Department of Education which has investigated allegations of discrimination by Muslim parents appealing against decisions to refuse enrolment.

Mr Selim encouraged the Department of Education "to have a clear policy which prevents exclusion on the basis of religion". Where south Dublin Muslim boys were concerned, the issue has got worse in recent years, he said.

"In the past these schools accepted non-Catholics. It is only in recent years they have insisted on children being Catholic," he said with "no children from the Muslim primary school accepted at either in recent years".

Archbishop Martin "told us that if we are having any problems we should go to him. If it gets more serious we will have to go to him." They realised the archbishop has limited powers in the matter, but "he is still the spiritual leader".

Meanwhile, Selim Ouafi, who lives in Carrickmines, cannot get places for his two boys in either St Benildus or Oatlands and yesterday was told by a girls secondary school in the area that it "wasn't really looking good" for his daughter. She was seeking a place there for 2017.

He has not been able to secure places at St Benildus or Oatlands for his sons Abdelnour (12), in sixth class, and Abdulrahamane (10), in fifth class. He had moved all his children from the Muslim school to a Catholic primary school, hoping it might make it easier for them to secure places.