A group representing Catholic primary schools is insisting there is no baptism requirement for their school places.
comes as the Minister for Education Richard Bruton is due to announce
plans this morning to legislate on the controversial school admissions
Under the so-called 'baptism barrier', many
children cannot access religious primary schools unless they have been
baptised in a Christian faith.
Catholic Primary Schools Management Association says it only arises in
cases of oversubscription for school places, when preference may then be
given to a baptised child.
General Secretary Seamus Mulconry insists it is mostly a problem in the Dublin area.
said: "There are a few in the commuter belt, but the vast majority of
oversubscribed schools are in Dublin, and in affluent areas in Dublin.
has been refused entry down the country, because their child hasn't
been baptised, because oversubscription is not happening in rural
In a speech later today, it is believed the
Minister will say he believes it is unfair that publicly funded
religious schools are able to give preference to children of their own
religion ahead of those of no religion who may live closer to the
On Newstalk Breakfast, the Minister said he is
aiming to ensure Ireland has "the best education service in Europe", and
wants the system to accommodate people of different faiths.
has changed very substantially, and we now need to respond to the new
environment", he said. "Many parents want choice and don't marry in the
Catholic or any other denominational setting."
Minister Bruton said allowances need to be made for these families as 96% of primary schools are denominational.
new research by the campaign group EQUATE shows that almost one in four
parents of children of school-going age would not have baptised their
child if they did not need it to gain entry to their local school.
EQUATE Executive Director Michael Barron says there is growing momentum across Irish society to remove the baptism barrier.
said: "We've heard from parents who actually regret baptising their
children against their beliefs solely on the basis of getting their
children into a local school", he said. "We heard last year from
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who said he really did not believe in the
practice of baptising children to get into your local school.
"I think there's widespread agreement that it's really not a practice that anybody can really support in a modern democracy."