State-funded schools would have to become mixed gender within 15 years under proposed law

Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin says Ireland is ‘out of kilter’ with the European norm

Single sex schools would have to become mixed gender within 15 years to continue to receive State funding under proposals from the Labour Party.

Its education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has launched a proposed law aimed at addressing the issue of schools being segregated along gender lines.

He said Ireland is "out of kilter" with the European norm on the issue and added: "In fact, outside of the Arab world Ireland stands pretty much alone as to the number of gender segregated schools that we have."

According to Mr Ó Ríordáin 17 per cent of Irish primary school children attend single sex schools and around 33 per cent of second level students do.


He also highlighted how the Department of Education has not given sanction to any new single gender schools since 1998 and said Labour is seeking cross-party support for a measure that is effectively already policy.

Under the Labour Party Bill all State funded primary schools would have to be gender integrated over 10 years.

Second-level schools would have 15 years to achieve integration.

Private schools would also have to allow both genders if they were to continue to get State funding.

Mr Ó Ríordáin said the timescale is “realistic” and deliberately set “because we don’t want schools who are already dealing with Covid and the impact of Covid to then have to turn their eyes immediately to an amalgamation scenario or a change in admissions policy immediately.”

He said: “At the end of that period, and Department should not show the longer sanction or recognise any school with state funding, state support that is not inclusive of boys and girls of young men and young women.”

The Labour Party intend to introduce the Bill into the Dáil in the coming weeks.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times