School divestment and patron bodies

A chara, – David Graham of Education Equality (Letters, March 12th) berates the State for "seeking the blessing of unelected bishops before making decisions about public services".

What Mr Graham and many of the other patron bodies seem to miss is that they too are unelected, self-selected, vested interest groups vying for school patronage.

In this paper also (Letters, March 12th) another patron body, Educate Together, is decrying the fact that it fears “they will be excluded”.

Is it better that the State be forced to “seek the blessing” of non-elected, self-selected interest groups rather than the bishops? The State should end this outmoded concept of “patronage” which is in fact the abrogation by the State of its responsibilities under the Constitution.


The plethora of over 20 school patrons allows for the possibility of even more challenges for the State in the future when it wants to make “decisions” about schools.

Self-interested unelected groups have their own agendas. The issue of “parental choice” is an emotional red herring.

Institutionalising parental choice in a model of patronage which allows any group to opt out of a State system has the potential to be the basis for segregation whether on class, religious, ethnic or other grounds.

In the spirit of the Stanley Letter, which was the foundational document of the National School system, of a more enlightened 19th century, let’s re-nationalise our schools.

– Yours, etc,



Co Meath.