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Irish education minister aims to cut Church control of primary schools by 50%

March 29, 2011

Ireland's education minister has formed a blue-ribbon panel to examine how the nation's primary schools can be moved out of the control of the Catholic Church.

About 90% of Ireland's primary schools are currently administered by the Church. The education minister, Ruairi Quinn, plans to cut that figure to below 50%. Quinn said that the recommendations of the new advisory panel could be put into practice by January 2012.

Catholic Church leaders have indicated a willingness to cooperate with Quinn's study, while questioning whether the education minister's goal--which could call for the transfer of 1,500 schools in less than a year--is realistic. The Catholic Schools Partnership will soon release its own suggestions for a more gradual transfer, with an emphasis on preserving the rights of parents to choose the appropriate eduction for their children.

Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin helped to inaugurate the public debate on education when he observed that the Church-run schools in Dublin were facing serious strains. For historic reasons, the Church controlled 90% of the schools, the archbishop observed, but only 50% of the families actually wanted a Catholic education.


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  • Posted by: niall - Mar. 29, 2011 7:13 PM ET USA

    Having voted for the Labour Party, of which Mr Quinn is a member, the Irish people should count themselves lucky that he is leaving the figure at 50% - the Labour Party would take all control from the Church if it could (and that is probably their long-term aim), not to mention their pre-election promises of introducing abortion on demand and same-sex "marriage".