Schools, patronage and parental rights

 

Sir, – According to Seán Ó Díomasaigh (Letters, January 16th), “Patronage is the practice of subsidiarity, where government delegates responsibility to unelected interest groups called patrons ...” This is not the case. The principle of subsidiarity is not a matter of governments delegating powers to any particular body, elected or not. For the EU, it is “a principle of social organisation that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate (or local) level that is consistent with their resolution”.

Second, Mr Ó Díomasaigh calls on the Government “to take back its responsibility for the education of the children of the nation” by transferring school patronage to the Local Education and Training Boards. But this contradicts the Constitution, which mandates that: “The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of parents to provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children” (Article 42.1).

Church patronage of schools could rather be seen as the result of the parents delegating their responsibility to the churches (or to other educational bodies like Educate Together) so that the latter can provide the kind of “religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children” which they, the parents, see fit.

Mr Ó Díomasaigh’s proposal fits perfectly with the kind of government that is best described as totalitarian.

The sole responsibility of government for “the education of the children of the nation” is to assist parents exercise their inalienable rights. It should not replace them. – Yours, etc,

D VINCENT

TWOMEY SVD,

Divine Word Missionaries,

Donamon,

Co Roscommon.