Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has welcomed the passage of the School Admissions Bill through the Dáil, but has emphasised the need for Minister Bruton to ensure schools are supported in implementing the required changes.

Deputy Byrne said, “The passage of the School Admissions Bill is a positive development and demonstrates what can be achieved when TD’s from all sides of the political divide and none come together to work through an issue.

“Fianna Fáil secured a number of important changes to the legislation as it passed through the Oireachtas. Our efforts have resulted in the removal of the baptism barrier while ensuring schools still retain their chosen ethos and protecting minority faith schools. The language and ethos of Gaelscoileanna is now also fully protected as a result of changes to the Bill.

“Last year Fianna Fáil tabled an amendment to this Bill with the aim of ensuring that children with special needs, such as autism, can no longer be denied their right to be educated in a mainstream primary or secondary school. Fianna Fáil made it clear that we would not support the passage of this Bill unless the Government dealt with the lack of special classes in schools. This issue has now been dealt with at our insistence.

“Minister Bruton must be given credit for taking on board the views of the opposition and embracing a collaborative approach in the Dáil.

“It’s important that the Minister now moves to ensure schools are given the support they need to implement the changes that arise as a result of the passage of this Bill. We also need to see delivery on the target of 400 multi-denominational schools. Change needs to be delivered on the ground and not just on paper,” concluded Deputy Byrne.