There have been calls for Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, to abandon his support for the Community National School (CNS) model of primary education, in light of emerging evidence that its policy of segregating children for religious formation is being abandoned due to parental pressure.
Commenting on the matter, Cllr. Éilis Ryan (Workers’ Party), said:
The Catholic Church and the government have been inexcusably slow in transferring patronage of primary schools away from the Catholic Church, in line with the secular needs of modern Ireland.
Minister Bruton has indicated that he sees the CNS model as a way to speed up this process – and has acknowledged that part of the reason for this is that the Church is likely to cooperate, because it would retain faith responsibility for faith formation of Catholic students within the schools.
Cllr. Ryan criticised the segregation for faith formation which is allowed within the CNS model, saying:
No model of education which allows the segregation of pupils for any reason should be acceptable in a modern, secular Republic. It is totally inappropriate for the Minister to choose the CNS model above integrated, secular education simply because the Catholic Church is refusing to cooperate.
Cllr. Ryan concluded:
The education of our children is too important to leave to private bodies – it is high time the state took charge of it. The only meaningful way to do this is to abandon the ‘choice-based’ model of patronage currently being pursued by the government and to instead establish a single, secular system of primary education, once and for all.