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Sinn Féin will not support religious discrimination in access to education – Carol Nolan

22 June, 2016


Commenting today as legal opinion from three constitutional lawyers was published in respect to a proposed amendment of the Equal Status Act to prohibit schools from refusing access to children on the basis of religion, Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Deputy Carol Nolan has said that Sinn Féin will seek to amend upcoming admissions legislation to prohibit discrimination in terms of access to education.

Deputy Nolan said:

“While I appreciate, for the majority of schools, the issue of religious discrimination in terms of access does not arise, nevertheless it is an issue in some areas of the country, particularly where schools are over subscribed.

“The reality for parents of minority faiths and none faced with this situation, is that they are unable to access their local school and many feel pressure to baptise their child in order to access their right to education.

“This situation is unacceptable and has no place in modern Ireland.

“The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Ireland ‘amend the existing legislative framework to eliminate discrimination in school admission, including the Equal Status Act’.

“I am aware that issues also arise in terms of children with special educational needs, who can often be refused access to their local schools and it is my understanding that this issue will be addressed quite firmly in the forthcoming admissions legislation.

“Sinn Féin welcomes the fact that the issue of children with special educational needs will be addressed but we will not stand over a situation whereby children are treated as second class citizens in terms of access to education.

“I welcome the legal opinion published today, which adds clarity to the debate on this issue. In the last Dáil term, Sinn Féin published legislation that sought to address this issue.

“Sinn Féin will seek to amend the forthcoming legislation on school admissions to provide for a repeal of the Equal Status Act 2000.”

ENDS

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