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Baptism Barrier ‘changes’ simply retain the status quo – Nolan

29 June, 2017

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills Carol Nolan TD has said that the plans outlined by the Minister for Education during consideration of the Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2016 at committee stage yesterday appear to simply retain the status quo.

Teachta Nolan said:

“I find it incredible and extremely frustrating that the amendments proposed by seven TDs, including myself, in relation to section 7 (3) (c) of the Equal Status Act 2000 were ruled out of order with very little notice before the Bill was considered at committee.

“I find it very peculiar that this rule was particularly enforced for this Bill, which references the Equal Status Act, after ongoing discussions and hearings with stakeholders in relation to the issue of religious discrimination in school admissions. I raised this matter with the Minister directly yesterday at the meeting, as to my knowledge this is the first time that any committee has been restricted in this manner.

“I feel it was a missed opportunity to address a fundamental issue in respect of school admissions and unfortunately, the plans outlined by the Minister do not adequately address the issue.

“The Minister has stated that schools will not be allowed to discriminate unless it would not be otherwise possible to maintain the ethos of the school. This is practically the same wording as the current Equal Status Act 2000 which provides that schools may give preference to a particular denomination ‘where it is essential to maintain the ethos of the school’.

“It appears that concerted efforts have been made to kick this can down the road, while the Minister has ducked his responsibility to address this issue in a meaningful way. 

“Sinn Féin will not support any discrimination in terms of access to education from publicly funded schools and this position will influence our approach to this Bill at final stage.

“The Minister must now immediately clarify the details of his proposals to address this issue prior to the conclusion of this Bill if he is to have any credibility on the matter.” 

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