By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor
Fianna Fáil wants to end the right of Catholic schools to deny access to pupils who have not been baptised, it emerged today.
The party is adamant that increased divestment of school patronage needs to happen, but the controversial pledge to force school to abandon the need to baptise is likely to draw strong criticism from many faith-based schools.
In the policy document, the party said it believes no parent should have to baptise their child simply to get their child into a school.
The document said: "All children regardless of religious denomination or outlook should have access to a school in their local community."
They said the main criteria for acceptance would be whether a sibling is there and geography.
The party today launched its pre-election education policy in Dublin in which it announced its intention to lower class sizes through the hiring of 5,500 new teachers at a cost of €105m a year.
The document was launched by party leader Micheál Martin and Education spokesman Charlie McConalogue.
The party has pledged to a host of new measures which will cost €373m, including the reinstatement of career guidance teachers.
At the launch, Mr Martin also responded to a story in this morning's