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Will democracy prevail in schools’ handover?

When he was Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn initiated a programme to change school patronage, a system that no longer reflects this society, its beliefs or practices.

Mr Quinn was supported by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin and, supposedly, the cabinet.

Yet, just a few years later, Mr Quinn is counting the days before he retires from politics and the school patronage system remains largely unchanged. The Catholic Church, surely one of the most discredited institutions in this country — and that’s a pretty high bar — retains its seemingly eternal and absolute grip on primary education, despite the fact that sincere religious observance has become the exception rather than the rule.

Parents with no commitment to Catholicism must sometimes pretend otherwise, if they hope to have children enrolled in local schools.

This routine hypocrisy puts dishonesty and church triumphalism at the very centre of our education system, an intolerable situation for any society with any kind of commitment to civic morality.

Essentially, a stated objective of a democratically elected government has been frustrated by an unelected, sexist, secretive and anti-democratic institution. In another context, this might be called sedition.

Has this issue been closed or will democracy finally prevail?

Hughie Hartigan

Bishopstown Rd

Cork


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