Schools and patronage

 

A chara, – Anthony O’Leary’s plea for the divestment by the Catholic Church of its patronage of schools fails to address the core principle at the heart of the debate (Letters, January 14th).

Patronage is the practice of subsidiarity, where government delegates responsibility to unelected interest groups called patrons, particularly in education and health. There are approximately 20 such groups acting as patrons in primary schools in Ireland.

Schools and what happens in them are the responsibility of the legitimately elected government. Replacing the majority patronage (the Catholic Church) with a plethora of diverse and disparate interest groups (new patrons) has the potential of repeating the mistakes of the past.

The National School System, inaugurated in 1832, was a visionary approach to education in Ireland where its authors envisaged that all children, irrespective of faith or social status, would be educated together.

Let’s renationalise our schools. The Local Education and Training Boards provide the logical infrastructure for government to take back its responsibility for the education of the children of the nation. – Yours, etc,

SEÁN Ó DÍOMASAIGH,

Dunsany,

Co Meath.