Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD says serious questions remain unanswered regarding the Government’s proposal to end the ‘baptism barrier’ for school admissions.
Deputy Byrne made the comments after Minister for Education Richard Bruton indicated that he will take steps to remove the baptism barrier, but failed to set out how exactly he will go about achieving this.
Deputy Byrne said, “Minister Bruton has indicated that a huge amount of work remains to be done between his Department and the Attorney General on this proposal. This raises serious questions over whether his plan can actually be implemented. At the very least it shows that he hasn’t put much thought into this issue to date. It appears that the Minister made his announcement in order to get himself out of a hole at the Oireachtas Education Committee.
“Minister Bruton needs to set out how his proposed plan will work in practice. He also needs to outline how long it will actually take for the proposal to be implemented should it get the approval of the Attorney General. The Minister has had well over a year now to get his act together in relation to school admissions and the need to address the baptism barrier. However the revelation that he has failed to carry out even the most basic of constitutionality checks indicates that he hasn’t put much effort into his plan. The groundwork clearly hasn’t been carried out.
“Fianna Fáil is committed to reforming the procedures governing school admissions with a particular focus on the ending of the ‘baptism barrier’. We favour the introduction of a new set of selection criteria for over-subscribed schools, based on locality and catchment area. The proposals we have put forward also respect Minority Faith Schools by ensuring that they are able to give admissions to children of their own denominational background, but only in their own catchment area.”