Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has reacted with scepticism to today’s relaunch of the divestment of patronage programme.

Deputy Byrne said, “The divestment programme under the previous Fine Gael Government ended up being an absolute disaster. It riled many local communities and delivered few multi-denominational schools, despite high demand for such schools.

“Today’s announcement by Minister Bruton feels like a stale relaunch of the previous divestment plan. It failed before and this plan, although introducing some minor changes, doesn’t inspire confidence. Minister Bruton is merely tinkering around the edges and lacks a coherent plan to bring about the changes that parents are looking for regarding school patronage. Minister Bruton had an opportunity to seriously reenergise his divestment policy, but unfortunately he has passed up on the opportunity.

“The Programme for Government commits to 400 new multi denominational schools by 2030. I recently questioned Minister Bruton in the Dáil about this as few schools have been delivered to date under this policy. Many, including me, envisaged a completely new approach being adopted by the Minister. Many people will be shocked to learn that two thirds of this commitment will be delivered through divestment.”