No measures to end controversial 'baptism barrier' to schools in new Admissions Bill

Update 1.31pm: Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton said today that the current system which allows State-funded religious schools to give preference to applicants of their own faith will continue for the time being.

"A school that is not oversubscribed, so if it has places, it has to take all-comers," he said.

"It's a different situation in the 20% of schools where if, like, there is more people wanting to admit their child than there are places available, and in that situation the school will have a selection process.

"Now the present law allows a religious schools to give preference to religious applicants of their own faith."

No measures to end controversial 'baptism barrier' to schools in new Admissions Bill

Earlier

Schools will be prohibited from having waiting lists, admission fees and discriminatory admissions policies under a new Admissions Bill being announced this morning.

However, the controversial clause on religious schools being allowed to discriminate in favour of their ethos remains.

Read: We had to do 'pretend baptism' to get our child into local school, says protesting mother

Last week, Education Minister Richard Bruton said any change to the Equal Status Act would be extremely difficult as it is a complex area legally, constitutionally, and in other ways.

The matter is now being looked at by an Oireachtas committee.

Groups of parents have been calling for a change in the law, which sees non-religious children struggling to access over-subscribed schools.

Campaigners for equal access to education have given the proposed legislation a lukewarm response.

"It's attempting to address the problem of equal access and we definitely appreciate that, because that's a nightmare for parents," he said.

"But equal respect is about once you are admitted from the point your child goes into the school - is your child given equal respect when maybe you're not of the predominant religion, or you're of no religion?"

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