Sir, – I was wondering how long I would have to wait for the next instalment from The Irish Times on keeping the "ethos in education" issue alive. It duly arrived ("Hindu family fails to get a place in a local school", October 13th).
What Kitty Holland ignores in her report is that it just isn’t possible for everyone to be able to attend the “school around the corner”. All across the country children are being bussed or driven to school, some from quite long distances. The irony in this story is that the girl did get a place, in a Catholic school, a half-hour drive away. There are many students in rural Ireland that have that journey, and longer, each morning of their schooldays. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Let me get this straight – a girl was turned away from the schools in her area because she was the wrong religion and the response of Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan was to outline for her father the legal right of the schools to do so? Wow. Ireland in the 21st century.
It seems the response of the office of the archbishop of Dublin was to suggest to the girl’s father, a Hindu, that he should consider having his daughter baptised to ensure school access. Rather cryptically, the office says there is “no record” of such a conversation, but does not deny that it took place.
The Minister and the office of the archbishop of Dublin have served up the usual evasive waffle when faced with yet another Irish citizen denied access to a local State-funded school for religious reasons.
Section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act 2000 allows over 96 per cent of Irish schools to operate these discriminatory enrolment policies. The mere existence of this legislation forces untold numbers of parents to baptise their children under duress, solely to ensure a school place. Moreover, it strikes fear into the hearts of those parents who refuse to have children baptised in order to exercise their constitutional right to an education. Can we please drag Ireland into the modern age and repeal this vile law? – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Kitty Holland detailed the distressing, but not uncommon, experience of an Irish Hindu child’s difficulty in finding a place in her local primary schools. This was due to the fact she is not Catholic. She eventually secured a place in a school half an hour away. In 2016, this same school will receive one of the 3,300 Tricolours and copies of the Proclamation that are being sent to each primary school to mark the Rising. One of the oft-quoted sections of the Proclamation refers to “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”.
Instead of sending a copy of the Proclamation, could the Government not proclaim and legislate for equal education access for all the children of the State? – Yours, etc,