Baptism Barrier Must Go – Gavan
Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on Minister for Education Richard Bruton to move swiftly to enact legislation to end the so called baptism barrier to school entry.
Senator Gavan, who is Seanad Sinn Féin spokesperson for Education, has welcomed the Ministers statement that he intends to deal with the issue following a period of public consultation but has warned against the government dragging its heels on the issue.
Senator Gavan said:
“Fine Gael have finally come into the 21st century with this announcement by the Minister, but what we need is action not just statements of good intentions. The fact that there is no defined time period for the proposed public consultation period does not bode well
“Education is a fundamental cornerstone of our society and our publicly funded education system must be equally available to all our children and our schools must be governed by the principles of equality. Presently the so called baptism barrier allows 96% of Irish national schools to discriminate against children based on their religion.
“The Minister must amend the law so that schools can no longer discriminate in their admissions policy on the basis of a child's religion or non-religion. I am also calling on the Minister to heed the views of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and produce guidelines for children to opt out of religious classes and have access to appropriate alternative classes. The Republican principles of Equality and Inclusion must be at the heart of our education system.”