Seanad debates

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Commencement Matters

School Enrolments

2:30 pm

Photo of Rose Conway WalshRose Conway Walsh (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

When will the review be completed and when will the recommendations be implemented? The Minister said, in reference to transferring patronage, that we must be honest and admit the system has not worked. We must also be honest and admit that the Educate Together schools do appear to be working. They are demand led and they are what families want in the areas in question. This speaks for itself. In Article 42 of the Constitution, it is provided that the State shall not oblige parents, in violation of their conscience and lawful preference, to send their children to schools established by the State or to any particular type of school designated by the State. On legal grounds, these restrictions would need to be lifted with immediate effect, and buildings should be provided to allow the schools to cater for the growing demand that exists under this inclusive school model.

I accept the Minister's point that nobody wants to see a school left without pupils, or the number of pupils being reduced, but the areas in question were specifically picked as urban areas in which there are sufficient numbers of children to do as proposed. Whatever review is to be carried out needs to be carried out in a very timely way, and the recommendations need to be implemented. Within the review, it is crucial that the Minister speaks not only to the local authority and other bodies but also to the parents and families who are most affected.


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