This week Minister Richard Bruton announced plans to remove the baptism barrier from 95% of Ireland’s primary schools. This means that from 2019 schools will not be allowed to take a child’s religion into account when considering their prospective enrolment.
The law, as it stands, permits Catholic schools to show preference to Catholic children. This isn’t generally an issue in rural areas where schools can accommodate all applicants, but competition for admission to certain schools in many major urban areas is fierce. As a result, some desperate non-Catholic parents have taken to baptising their children simply so they have a better chance of being accepted. It’s a mad situation when you think about it.
90% of primary schools in this country are still maintained by bodies that promote a Catholic ethos. Why should a child of a minority faith, or of no faith at all, be less entitled to an education at these schools than a Catholic child? The new law will put an end to this outdated practice, and not a moment too soon as far as I’m concerned.