General Secretary Opinion response
25th January 2017 | What's New
Response to Kitty Holland’s recent article (http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/removing-the-baptism-barrier-is-largely-meaningless-1.2941878)
Sent the following letter to the Irish Times in response to an article which mentioned CPSMA. The letter was not published and never the less we feel it may be of interest to you all.
I read with interest Kitty Holland’s “Removing the Baptism barrier is largely meaningless” and was very surprised to learn that, despite Ms Holland’s somewhat overheated anti- Catholic rhetoric her article clearly supports our argument that the real issue in Dublin is not around Baptism or lack of it but a rather a lack of school places in some areas of the city.
As Ms Holland’s article clearly details, all of the Schools in her locality were heavily oversubscribed and that issue of a baptismal certificate was entirely irrelevant to her application. I note also that the situation made worse by the fact that in two schools – a non-denominational Gaelscoil and a multidenominational school, (the child) was even further down the list such was the demand for places from families across Dublin.
While I can understand any parent feeling rage at not having their child accepted into a school I fail to understand why it is the local faith schools in particular should bear the brunt of her outrage, given that she clearly did not want to send her child to a faith school in the first place. Surely it would be more logical to be annoyed with non-faith schools for taking applications from outside the catchment area or the Department of Education for not providing enough places. To be fair to the Department they responded (Deo Gratias) to local need by facilitating the development of an Educate Together school in the area thus solving her problem and that of other parents.
What CPSMA has argued is that issue is primarily not an issue of religion but of resources. To be clear a Baptismal Certificate is not required for admission to one of our Primary Schools. It is only in cases of over subscription that we retain the right to give priority to members of our own faith community. Somewhere between 3-6% of Catholic Primary Schools are over-subscribed, the problem is found mainly in the greater Dublin area and the Commuter Belt and is most concentrated in middle class areas. (Though our latest research indicates that the problem is growing and spreading). The solution is simple, more school places.
While it is not my job to defend Minister Bruton the suggestion that a parent might be forced to allow their religious instruction under any of the options presented by the Minister is frankly ludicrous as it is patently unconstitutional.
It is my job however to defend Catholic Primary Schools and the suggestion that any Catholic Primary School (or indeed any Protestant Primary School) would indulge in proselytism or indoctrination is grossly offensive to people of faith. It is also a serious slur on the reputation and professionalism of the thousands of hardworking, dedicated and committed teachers who work in faith schools and support the personal and intellectual development of pupils in their care.
Finally, on a lighter note it both traditional and prudent for Education Partners to welcome any initiative from the Minister of Education. Were Minister Bruton to suggest the introduction of compulsory Quidditch in primary schools I would doubtless welcome the initiative but respectfully point out that an increase in the capitation grant which stands at a miserly â‚¬170 per pupil, or 92 cents per pupil per school day would be needed to implement the Ministers bold initiative. I would also of course point out the practical difficulty of vetting Quidditch instructors