No baptism, no schools for Irish kids

No baptism, no schools for Irish kids

Because more than 90 percent of state schools in Ireland are run by the Catholic Church, unbaptised children like Reuben Murphy, pictured above with his mother Nikki, are at the bottom of their admissions lists – and a growing number of Irish parents are railing against the system.

The Guardian reports today that  instead of starting school last month, Reuben, four, found himself back in his Dublin nursery for another year as his mother, Nikki, re-embarked on her quest to find a place for him at a local state primary.

She has already applied to 15 schools. But, following rejections from nine last year, Murphy is far from confident that a place will be found for Reuben.

Said Murphy:

I’m desperate. I’ve met tons of parents who’ve baptised their children just to get a school place. We thought about it, but it goes against our conscience. I feel it would be an abuse of other people’s deeply held religious beliefs.

A drive to repeal the legislation that allows Irish schools to operate admissions criteria based on faith is gathering momentum. Almost 15,000 people have backed a petition to be presented to parliament in the next couple of weeks, and campaigners are determined to raise the issue of unbaptised children in next year’s general election.

According to Paddy Monahan, a Dublin barrister who launched the petition, the law is an unconstitutional anachronism in a country which is among the top 10 most avowedly atheist societies in the world, according to a WIN-Gallup global poll.

The poll found that just 47 percent of Irish respondents identified themselves as religious in 2012. Non-Catholic immigration to Ireland has further diluted the church’s hegemony.

But religion is still firmly entrenched in the country’s education system, with nine out of 10 schools run by the Catholic church (another 6 percent are managed by other denominations and religions). All are required to follow a standard curriculum with 30 minutes a day ringfenced for religious instruction.

Schools are permitted to set admissions criteria, which usually place local Catholic children at the top and unbaptised children at the bottom, with as many as half a dozen categories in between. In Dublin and other cities where good schools are over-subscribed, the parents of unbaptised children are forced to search in ever-widening circles.

Said Monahan, father of seven-month-old Cormac:

When my son was born, I realised he won’t get into our local school as the law stands. Ninety-six percent of schools are entitled to discriminate. In a 21st-century democracy, this is a shambles.

An Ipsos MORI poll earlier this year found the vast majority of respondents agreed that all children should have equal access to school places, whether or not they had been baptised. It also found that, while 93 percent of parents had their children baptised, only a third took their children to mass or prayed with them regularly.

For parents under the age of 35 – those most likely to have pre-school children – just 14 percent took them to mass regularly.

Monahan added:

The state is more or less forcing people to have their children baptised in order to get a school place.

Roopesh Panicker, a Hindu originally from India, applied to seven schools for his daughter Eva last year. The only offer came from a school almost four miles from the family’s Dublin home.

Panicker complained about schools’ admissions policies to the government and the office of the archbishop of Dublin. He said an official from the archdiocese suggested he baptise Eva.

I said, you’re asking me to change religion to get my daughter into school?

According to Michael Nugent of Atheist Ireland, access on its own does not solve the problem.

There is no point in getting access to a school that discriminates against you once you get in, and that also discriminates against teachers who are atheists or minority faith members. Most of the complaints that Atheist Ireland gets from parents are about religious discrimination within the school, particularly problems with opting out of religious education that is integrated throughout the entire curriculum.

Eight UN and Council of Europe human rights bodies have told Ireland that its schools breach the human rights of atheist and minority faith families, according to Nugent.

The main alternative to religious schools in Ireland are run by Educate Together, which has no religious affiliation but manages only 74 out of 3,200 primaries. In Dublin, its schools have more than four times the number of applicants than places. It says:

Currently there are not enough school places to cater for the growing number of families seeking an alternative to denominational education across Ireland.

The Department of Education in Dublin said schools promoting religious values were exempt from anti-discrimination laws in admissions policies if “the refusal is essential to maintain the ethos of the school”.

A church spokesperson said it was “not the function of the Catholic church to provide education for all of Irish society” and it was “unfortunate that Catholic schools are simply not big enough to cater for the numbers who wish to enrol”.

The Irish government should consider building more schools or extending existing ones, said a spokesperson.

22 responses to “No baptism, no schools for Irish kids”

  1. CharlyO says:

    It may be noticed that the RCC is doing its best to corner the medical hospital market in the USA as well. At least that is what I see.

  2. L.Long says:

    CharlyO…Yes that is true but things could be shaken up as soon as one of our gun tottin’ nuts with nothing to lose needs medical abortion for his girl! Then the situation could be dramatic.
    Well delusional half wits (sorry for the compliment) want a theocracy! And they are working towards it. And I thought the TSA (Theocratic States of America) were getting stupid! This is stupid crazy!

  3. AgentCormac says:

    Petition duly signed. And here’s something for those who christened their kids just to get them into a school.

  4. Har Davids says:

    “I feel it would be an abuse of other people’s deeply held religious beliefs.” Wrong!! These people make a mockery of an educational system that is paid for by everybody, so all kids should be welcome. At least Nikke can have her son baptized and tell him it’s one big joke. But if you’re a non-Christian believer, you seem to be fucked without having been wined and dined.

  5. barriejohn says:

    I think that people are doing the Holy Catholic Church a great disservice; they only want the best for these dear children!

    Catholic Baptism does five things specifically.

    1. It forgives all sins that may have been committed prior to a person’s baptism including original sin, mortal sins, and venial sins, and it relieves the punishment for those sins.

    2. It makes the newly baptized person “a new creature.”

    3. It turns the person into a newly adopted son of God and a member of Christ. Baptism incorporates one into the Church which is the body of Christ.

    4. It brings someone into the flock of the faithful and brings them to share in the royal priesthood of Christ (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Catholic baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers and it also brings about the sacramental bond of the unity of Christians,,,

    5. Last, but certainly not in the least, baptism leaves and indelible spiritual mark (character) of belonging to Christ on the soul. Nothing you can do will take away this mark even if you sin a million times. Those sins may not grant you salvation, but you will always carry the mark of a Christian on your soul, therefore making re-baptism impossible.

    What right-minded person would wish to deny any child these many benefits?

  6. dionigi says:

    is there any one out there who can explain to me if the Irish catholic schools are like the English faith schools which are started by religious groups with the vast majority of the money coming from the government and the running fees are mainly paid by the government or are they totally payed for and funded by the church and the education is free.
    It will be the first time that there is no fee paid to get in if they are totally funded by the church or they are funded by donations.

  7. Trevor Blake says:

    The Irish clergy have paid out millions of euro in child rape and slavery settlements. I guess the Irish who insist on catholic schools feel like th need to get their money’s worth out of them. I’m sure thousands and thousands of children are not raped or enslaved every year in catholic schools. If a few of them are, well, God will forgive them. The children that is. The good Christians who put their children in harm’s way have nothing to answer for.

    Satire aside, I’d like to see the Roman Catholic Church bankrupted and forgotten.

  8. Cali Ron says:

    Fuck the Catholic Church and any politicians who support their blatant discrimination against non believers.
    I am drunk responding and don’t care. It’s past time to end this violation of atheist and other non catholic religions right to an education. I may regret this tomorrow, but right now I’m just pissed off at this stupid BS. Makes me ashamed of my Irish heritage. Come on Ireland, join the 21st century. Erin go atheist!

  9. barriejohn says:

    Dionigi: They’re state aided again, whichImeans that the bulk of the cost will come from central government!

    You didn’t expect the religious to provide something absolutely free of charge, did you?

  10. barriejohn says:

    The following article is a couple of years old, and Eamon Ryan then made a statement to the effect that he had said nothing of the kind!

    Green Party candidate Eamon Ryan has backed a campaign to end State funding of Catholic schools. Mr Ryan, who is running in the European elections in Dublin, is supporting a so-called secular statement distributed by atheist campaigners. The document also calls for an end to charitable status for religious bodies and removal of religious references from the Constitution.

    More here:

  11. Club Secretary says:

    @barriejohn says:
    Thu 22 Oct at 6:09 am
    “The following article is a couple of years old, and Eamon Ryan then made a statement to the effect that he had said nothing of the kind!”

    How can you tell when a politician is lying? – His lips are moving.

  12. barriejohn says:

    Club Sec: It looks very much to me as if he is saying that the Green Party did support the statement, but that he made no personal statement on the matter, but it’s difficult to say for certain from the information provided.

  13. Peter Sykes says:

    “…and a member of Christ…”
    Perhaps that could be rephrased!

  14. Peter Sykes says:

    Cali Ron:
    A good rant whilst drunk, best I can do is a few misspelled words!

  15. barriejohn says:

    Peter Sykes: A dick, maybe?

  16. Cali Ron says:

    @Peter Sykes: Thanks. I wasn’t slobbering drunk, but had just returned from a beer tasting (8 craft breweries and over 20 different beers) and was certainly legally drunk, which is why I “got my Irish up” so fast. I surprised myself this morning when I read it.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Cali Ron: My paternal grandfather was from Connemara – Roundstone (Cloch na Rhon); a very pretty little place now, and a great tourist attraction, but I guess not so attractive in many ways 1918 when he had finished his service in the Royal Navy!,_County_Galway

  18. Parents and priests have no right to try and make a baby a Catholic.

    Because it is as silly as saying that all babies that are dressed in something from M and S are made members of the Church of whatever.

    Because the Church endorses the Bible with its nonsense and violence commanded by God as true. A decision to join such a religion needs to be taken very seriously and it needs to be a fully informed decision. The bigger and more dangerous the claims a religion makes the more information you need to join it. Anything else trivialises the risks and insults the victims of the faith.

    Because nobody has the right to accuse a baby of being estranged from God and needing this rectified in baptism. So much for innocent until proven guilty.

  19. dennis says:

    I feel so lucky to have missed all 5 @barriejohn. for some reason my mom thought I was not ready to be loved by god the old baptist that she was. Wonder if I did something or lots of somethings!
    @Cali Ron, some times drunk is honest and I will have a Mexican Beer at lunch in your honor from a descendant of the Dutch and the English.

  20. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn: Have always felt a connection with Ireland, Irish on my mothers side and English/Irish on my dads. My wife is half Irish and half Mexican. Got to visit the Isle once for 10 days, spent 3 of those days in Galway and 3 days in Doolin (immersed ourselves in traditional Irish music and exploring the burren). So much fascinating history compared to America which by comparison is such a young country.

    The people of Ireland seem to be getting over the RCC much faster than the government. Once religion is entrenched in the government is is difficult to extricate it.

    dennis: Slainte and Salud!