Settlement in Protestant schools’ action against State

A SETTLEMENT was reached in the High Court in a dispute between the Department of Education and four private Protestant schools over a teachers’ redeployment scheme which they claimed adversely affects their right to choose who they employ.

The case got under way on Tuesday but on Wednesday talks began between the sides and yesterday, following further discussions, Gerard Hogan SC, for the schools, told Mr Justice Bryan McMahon the parties “had resolved their differences”.

Mr Hogan said all that was necessary for the court to do was to order that the department pay the schools’ costs and strike out the proceedings.

Mr Justice McMahon thanked the parties for resolving what he said was “a difficult matter” and he struck out the case.

The details of the settlement were not revealed.

In a brief statement afterwards, Drury Communications, on behalf of the schools, said they were satisfied with the settlement which had addressed their concerns.

The action was taken by four Dublin secondary schools who claimed a redeployment scheme introduced last year by the minister for education and science interfered with their autonomy and the rights of parents to have their children educated according to their religious faith.

The four are: St Andrew’s, Booterstown, a co-educational multi-denominational Presbyterian-founded school; Rathdown Girls School, Glenageary, one of only two all-girls Church of Ireland boarding schools in the country; Wesley College, the State’s only Methodist second-level school based in Ballinteer; and St Patrick’s Grammar, Christchurch, the only remaining Protestant secondary school in Dublin city centre.

They had sought declarations that the scheme — introduced to redeploy “surplus” teachers from schools in areas of Dublin where the population was in decline — had breached their constitutional rights.

They had also sought orders directing the minister to cease the scheme’s operation, as well as damages.

The minister and the State had argued that the schools had to prove their denominational nature and ethos with regard to the selection and recruitment of teachers and the scheme was also part of the agreement reached with the social partners.

The schools claimed the scheme was introduced last year without consultation or agreement with them and they had “never accepted” it, the court heard.


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