‘Baptism barrier’ and schools

Sir, – Various Catholic groups are objecting to plans to remove the school baptism barrier ("Catholic groups warn of legal action over 'Baptism barrier' removal", News, January 3rd).

It is clear from their contributions that they have adopted a strategy set out by the Iona Institute as far back as 2008. They will attempt to steer any debate toward the question of what the majority wants and hope we all forget about the needs and rights of minorities. If that fails, they will try to make the discussion all about an interfering State in pursuit of a “secularisation agenda” and cast themselves as persecuted victims.

Of course, the question is not what the majority of parents want. The question is what children need. The question is not one of State interference but of how we, as a society, can best balance the competing rights of families of all faiths and none. The question is why religious groups must be allowed to co-opt publicly funded schools to privilege their own. The question is why, when school places are scarce, it is always religious minorities that are forced to the back of the queue.

The question ought to be what, if any, harm might be done by insisting that faith formation takes place outside the classroom so that maths and reading and writing can be taught in an environment where children who live next door to each other are treated equally, with no-one singled out as being “different”. These are the questions that Catholic groups have failed to address and don’t want to be asked. But these are the questions that matter. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 16.

Sir, – Shock! Horror! The Catholic Church intends to take legal action to exercise its constitutional rights to provide Catholic schools for Catholics. Individual Catholics may similarly take legal action to validate their constitutional right to have their children educated in their own faith. Rights for Catholics! Wherever will it end? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 15.

Sir, – The Association of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland says that it can “envisage a possible situation arising where a Catholic parent could not get a place in a Catholic school within reasonable proximity”. Welcome to the club that non-religious families have always found themselves in when it comes to accessing State-funded education! At least when we are all in it together then no one is being systematically discriminated against! – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.