Friday, September 01, 2023

Newstalk Schools Survey: Majority concerned about Church control over Irish schools

Newstalk Schools Survey: Majority concerned about Church control over Irish  schools | Newstalk

More than half of people are concerned about the Catholic Church being in control of the majority of Ireland’s schools, according to a new survey from Newstalk.

The latest in a series of polls carried out by Amárach Research for Newstalk examines all things Back to School from voluntary contributions to transport and sex education.

The survey finds that 56% of parents are concerned about the Catholic Church being the patron of the majority of Irish schools – with 32% ‘very concerned’ and 24% ‘somewhat concerned’.

Meanwhile, 18% said they were unconcerned and 26% said they were neither concerned or unconcerned or didn’t know.

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Aontú leader Peadar Toibin said the Government has been “incredibly slow” in its efforts to transfer schools away from religious patronage.

“The key issue around education is simply to make sure that it suits the needs and demands of parents,” he said.

“If parents want a Protestant school, they should - within reason if they have the numbers - get a protestant school.

“If they want a multidenominational or an Educate Together school, they should get an Educate Together school.

“So, the Government is incredibly slow - they are glacial - in terms of their process here.

“For many, many years the Government has been talking about this - maybe 20 years - and they the number of schools that have actually been divested are very, very small.”

Catholic Church

The Newstalk survey found that people under the age of 34 (64%) are most likely to be concerned about Catholic patronage.

Meanwhile, people in Dublin (63%) and more concerned than those in Munster (54%) and Connaught or Ulster (44%).

Also on the show, Sinn Féin education spokesperson Sorca Clarke said the Government is failing to meet its own divestment targets.

“If you look at the pilot program that took place around divestment, that was of 60 schools and ultimately it resulted in two schools being divested,” she said.

“That just isn’t good enough. We have a Government at the moment who are failing to meet another one of their targets as set down in their own Programme For Government.

“They now have a track record of making these big announcements that sound significant at the time but turn out to be just lip service that isn’t actually following through on the very real change that communities want to see delivered.”

School survey

Meanwhile, Deputy Tóibín claimed parents are more worried about “bread and butter issues” when it comes to education.

“The big issue I hear at the doors is not whether the local school is divested,” he said.

“It is whether they can get a damn bus to their school or not. It is whether or not they can get an SNA to the school.

“Sometimes the bread and butter issues are the issues parents are actually really worried about.”