Parents should not be forced to have their children baptised to have them admitted to their State-funded local school, said Children’s Minister and deputy leader of Fine Gael James Reilly.
Members of the UN’s committee reviewing Ireland’s adherence to the convention on the Rights of the Child questioned why schools were allowed to discriminate against pupils and teachers on the basis of their religion.
Mr Reilly admitted that, despite efforts to address the situation where around 90% of schools are largely under religious control, little has changed.
He believed a citizens’ convention could be established under the next government to debate the issue and devise proposals. The change could be made through legislation rather than changing the Constitution through a referendum.
Ireland has been told eight times already by UN and Council of Europe bodies to stop breaching human rights by allowing schools and hospitals to discriminate against people because of religion.
The minister told the day-long hearing in Geneva that of 45 schools built since 2011, in 95% of cases the local community had chosen to have multi-denominational schools.
There had been very few existing schools that had changed from having religious patronage.
Fianna Fáil, in a pre-election education policy manifesto, said it wants to end the right of Catholic schools to end access to pupils who have not been baptised.
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