If it was proposed, even as the centenary of women’s suffrage in this part of the world is celebrated, that only women
of childbearing age be allowed to vote in this summer’s referendum on the Eighth Amendment that suggestion would be dismissed out of hand. And rightly so.
The issue may have a far greater relevance to young women than on any other cohort but the society-wide import of the question is recognised and, as this is still a democracy, every Irish citizen will have an opportunity to vote one way or another.
That is exactly as it should be, anything else would be profoundly anti-democratic.
However, that very proposal is being made around school patronage. In a replay of an earlier survey conducted by the Catholic hierarchy — guess the result — the Government is to ask parents of preschool children if the Catholic Church should continue to control something around of the 90% of state-funded national schools it manages today.
There is no other way to describe this as anything but as the latest swizz in this power struggle between what might be described as traditional Ireland and the Ireland we actually live in.
All citizens have skin in this game and all taxpayers contribute to funding education so excluding people unless they have preschool children from any decision-making process is wrong.
Three ministers of education have gone gently on this issue but failed to bring real change. Big stick time?