Thursday, 29 April 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Tánaiste. It would be helpful if we had a statement from him, the Minister for Education or the Taoiseach on the new programme that has been developed. Many people would have serious difficulty with it and it would be helpful to hear what the Government's position is on it.
There are 2,800 Catholic primary schools in the country, accounting for 90% of primary schools. Does the Tánaiste know how many schools transferred patronage from either the Catholic Church or the Church of Ireland to multidenominational patronage since 2016? It was eight schools. Last year, just one school in the entire year was divested. That was from Church of Ireland to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board. The snail's pace of the divestment programme is clearly untenable. It is wrong that the church is given a choice about the type of education children receive but Irish parents are not. As long as the church controls 90% of schools, that choice will be absent. This must change as a matter of urgency. What does the Government propose to do about it?