O'Keeffe reassures on religious instruction


THE CATHOLIC Commission on Education said it was reassured on the issue of religious instruction in the State's new community national schools following a meeting with Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe at Government Buildings yesterday.

The members of the Commission on Education of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference met Mr O'Keeffe to discuss the provision of religious education in the new model schools.

The first primary schools run by the State, under the auspices of the County Dublin Vocational Education Committee, opened in September, marking an historic departure from the church-based pattern of school patronage. It is planned that hundreds of schools will open under the new community model in the next decade as the primary school population grows by more than 100,000.

The bishops said they wanted to see the model of patronage in community national schools to succeed and emphasised their wish to be able to assure Catholic parents that their children would follow the same religious education programme as in a Catholic school.

Bishop Leo O'Reilly, chairman of the commission, said Mr O'Keeffe had given an assurance that the commitment to provide religious instruction on a denominational basis during the school day for pupils whose parents requested it still stood.

He said the commission had been reassured by the meeting. "We welcome the Minister's reaffirmation of the policy."