Bizarre patronage claims flourish in the absence of any Government direction – Byrne

Published on: 05 April 2019

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne TD has criticised the Department for having no plan to provide its promised 400 multi denominational schools.

Deputy Byrne said the bizarre claims that there would be no more Easter celebrations or Christmas concerts in schools gained such traction as a result of the vacuum of information from the Department, its lack of involvement and the absence of a divestment plan or strategy.

Deputy Byrne explained, “By not setting out any guidelines or giving any direction the Minister is allowing misinformation spread like wildfire. I have no doubt it was unsettling for parents to receive notices saying that their children would no longer be able to participate in nativity plays or St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. This should never have happened.

“However, legitimate questions are not being answered. This is as a direct result of the Department adopting a completely hands off approach.

“The Government has said it is committed to delivering 400 multi and non-denominational schools by the year 2030. We are at the beginning of that process and yet it’s clear to see they do not have a plan in place in terms of implementation. If the Department don’t set out ground rules and don’t get more involved were going to see the same furore again and again.

“I have tabled a number of Parliamentary Questions on the matter in an attempt to force the Minister to draw up a comprehensive plan.  Minister Ruairi Quinn adopted a top down approach when in power which resulted in little movement and half-baked divestment.  Now we have a hands off approach which is also in danger of not working.

“One thing is sure, having 90% of primary schools under Catholic patronage is not sustainable and this needs to change. In almost all cases, schools are doing a great job, but diversity of ethos is badly needed”, concluded Deputy Byrne.

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