Human rights organisation Education Equality has urged the Government to end the 'baptism barrier' in the Irish school system.
Making its submission on to Minister for Education Richard Bruton's consultation process today, the group said that only option 4(i), the full removal of the baptism barrier without caveat, would prevent religious discrimination in access to taxpayer-funded schools.
The deadline for submissions on the proposals was recently extended to Monday, March 20.
In its submission, Education Equality maintained that all children should enjoy equal access to local schools, and that a child’s religious status should not be a relevant consideration.
Speaking on the publication of today’s submission, Education Equality Chairperson Sarah Lennon noted: “Education Equality has engaged fully and in good faith with the Minister’s consultation process and is very happy to publish its response to his proposals.
"We have given careful consideration to the constitutional and human rights implications of all options and believe that only Option 4(i) vindicates children’s human and constitutional right not to be discriminated against in school access on the grounds of religion.”
Policy Officer Paddy Monahan added: “Today’s submission by Education Equality also makes a strong and cogent case that the issue of the controversial ‘baptism barrier’ cannot be considered in isolation to the wider issue of equal respect for all children during their school day.
"All children have a constitutional right to attend any school receiving public money without attending religious instruction at that school.
"However, this right is routinely flouted on a daily basis by the vast majority of our schools.
"Education Equality simply proposes that faith formation should take place at the end of the school day, outside core school hours, to empower parents and allow them to decide if their children attend this religious instruction.
"We hope that Minister Bruton will consider this proposal and take concrete steps to vindicate a long-neglected constitutional right.”