Legislation seeking to reform school admission rules to be published in coming days

New legislation seeking to reform school admissions rules is set to be published by the Government over the coming days. There is concern that some families are effectively being blocked from accessing local schools.

The proposed bill was discussed at yesterday’s cabinet meeting after being put forward by Education Minister Richard Bruton.

Under repeatedly stated education reforms, the Fine Gael-led Government has committed to allowing more space for diversity in services for children, with plans for an additional 400 multi-denominational schools by 2030 central to the measures.

However, due to claims of bias against children of a minority religion or none, there have been growing calls in recent months for greater space to be made available for families who would otherwise struggle to access nearby schools they wished to attend.

It is believed the imminent new legislation will seek to address this issue, which includes claims that parents cannot find places for their children without baptising them and can be discriminated against because of strict catchment area rules imposed by some schools.

While exact details on the bill have not been made public, it is understood the bill will be published this week at which point further discussion on the issues will take place.

The school admissions’ development formed a key part of yesterday’s cabinet meeting, during which new plans to intercept online messages from criminal gangs, mortgage reforms, and potential electoral constituency changes were also discussed.

As reported in yester-day’s Irish Examiner, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday sought approval for changes to two existing laws allowing gardaí to tap criminals’ communications as the old rules pre-dated the creation of the internet.

The new versions of the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act 1983 and the Interception of Postal Packets and Telecommunications Messages Act 1993 will allow for online messages and texts to be examined by gardaí and police in other jurisdictions without fear the actions may have an unsound legal footing.

The decision to update the laws was taken on the back of EU advice, and after a number of previous requests for information on Irish criminals by police forces in other parts of the EU could not be acted on because of a lack of clarity on what records could be intercepted.

Yesterday’s cabinet meeting also saw plans for an extra €15m to be provided to a beefed-up mortgage arrears support group over the next three years rubber-stamped as Government attempted to take hold of the ongoing crisis in the sector.

Under the measure, the extra funding will be given to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service by the end of July, allowing it to access to increased resources for its national helpline and support network.

A government spokesperson also confirmed that yesterday’s cabinet meeting included discussion on a potential change in future election constituency boundaries to take account of changing demographics in Ireland.

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