Teaching sacraments at school


Sir, – Peter Gunning (“Teaching sacraments at school: ‘I was a hypocrite through need’,” December 17th) provides further compelling evidence of the difficulties faced by non-religious staff in Irish schools, who “have a contractual obligation to uphold the ethos and to teach religion for 30 minutes per day, irrespective of their own beliefs.”

Although teachers are paid from the public purse, it is the patrons – in effect, bishops – who call the shots, presiding over a system of enforced hypocrisy that requires our educators to maintain the pretence of piety, even to the point of teaching their pupils things that conflict with their own beliefs.

Why does the State deny a right of conscience to teachers and principals? It is entirely symptomatic of our peculiar education system that the duly appointed Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, has little to say on such matters. One might reasonably assume that taxpayer-funded services would be run by publicly elected ministers. Not so in the education sector.

Some 39 per cent of Irish marriages were celebrated in a non-religious ceremony in 2018, while 48 per cent were Catholic. Around 90 per cent of primary schools remain under Catholic control. Our education system is increasingly out of step with society.

Education Equality advocates for all forms of religious indoctrination in our taxpayer-funded schools, including sacramental preparation, to be confined to a distinct period of time after core school hours, rather than permeated throughout the school day. This would allow parents to choose whether or not their children receive this instruction – and teachers to choose if they want to provide it. – Yours, etc,


Press Officer,

Education Equality,


Co Dublin.