Transfer schools to State, says Quinn

 

LABOUR PARTY:THE LABOUR Party has called on the 18 religious orders cited in the Ryan report to voluntarily transfer their schools to the State.

Party spokesman on education Ruairí Quinn said the orders could own up to 1,000 primary schools. He said when he submitted a Dáil question to Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keeffe, the Minister was unable to tell him how many primary schools were owned by the orders.

A number of primary schools are among the properties that have been transferred to the State by the religious orders as part of the indemnity deal agreed in June 2002.

Mr Quinn said the transfer of the orders’ schools to the State would be an opportunity for the orders to make a substantial further contribution to the redress scheme as he doubted if they had substantial amounts of cash.

He said the current system whereby the State provided 100 per cent of the costs of running the schools yet persisted with the “nonsense that they are privately-run institutions” was inefficient and contributed to the sometimes inadequate upkeep of schools. “It’s a bad system and it needs to be changed and now is the time to do it,” he said.

Under the Labour proposal, the existing patron arrangements should be maintained until such time as the patron decides otherwise. Labour wants the existing schools to continue as schools and for the Department of Education to continue to fund them.

“The Taoiseach and the Ministers who are due to meet with the religious orders should insist that the legal ownership of existing primary schools held by the religious orders should be handed over to the State as a contribution to the cost of the redress board,” Mr Quinn said.