Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Department of Education and Skills
112. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will encourage schools to fly the flag and to teach their pupils the national anthem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22260/17]
Our primary syllabus in Social, Personal and Health Education requires that each pupil becomes aware of his/her own culture and includes the national flag and anthem among the areas identified. It remains open to any school to encourage its students to learn and sing the anthem, at school events or otherwise.
It is not Departmental policy to impose regulations on schools regarding national expression, so there are no directives or guidelines on the use of the anthem beyond that identified in primary SPHE. This is consistent with government practice in most countries today.
In Ireland, schools are free to incorporate the learning of the anthem within their curricular provision, such as in music or singing lessons, and a number of initiatives in this regard have been given Departmental support. These include the distribution of a CD of the National Children's Choir signing our national anthem to every school some years ago, and the Taoiseach's launch of the Gael Linn 'Gaelbhratach' initiative earlier in 2015. This latter idea promotes the teaching of the national anthem from third class onwards, as part of an overall school approach to the use of Irish in communication.
As part of the Ireland 2016 commemorations, the Department advised the Department of the Taoiseach on guidelines for schools around the national flag, cooperated with the Defence Forces to ensure the delivery of a national flag to some 3,300 primary and special schools, and with the Thomas Francis Meagher Society to make flags available to over 700 post-primary schools as well. These flags were designed for internal display, or to be flown externally as best suited individual school circumstances and preferences. No school was compelled to take or fly a flag, but the vast majority have done so and engaged with the project most positively.