April 24, 2017

Ireland's sectarian schools, Ctd

Ireland has passed a new ‘equality’ law that protects Catholic LGBT teachers from discrimination. Via Mick Nugent here.
"This enrolment policy is clearly discriminatory. Discrimination wrapped up in the language of protecting their own ethos."

Newton Emerson said:
"[Sinn Fein] forcibly end social segregation… [While] Religious segregation is a ‘choice’ to be 'respected’."
He also said:
"Ethos… That apparently makes the ethnic segregation of children a human right."
Diarmaid Ferriter wrote that "Ireland’s national school system is blatantly sectarian:" 
"It is astonishing that so little has changed in the meantime in relation to patronage. There are still roughly 3,300 primary schools in the State and 90 per cent of them are under Catholic patronage. 
What has changed in very recent times is the extent to which this level of control and, by extension, discrimination against non-Catholic pupils, is coming under the spotlight. 
What we have, nearly 100 years after the declaration of the Irish republic, and more than 180 years after the inauguration of the national school system, is neither republican nor national: it is blatantly sectarian. 
A fifth of Irish Catholic schools are oversubscribed and more and more stories are coming in to the public domain about children being excluded from schools on the basis of religion. 
Some parents have been forced to resort to the humiliating practice of baptising their children against their wishes, such is the stranglehold that exists, bolstered by the Equal Status Act 2000, which permits schools to discriminate in their admissions policy on the basis of religion. 
This Act exists alongside article 44.2 of the Constitution: “The State shall not impose any disabilities or make any discrimination on the ground of religious profession, belief or status.” 
The current draft Bill on admission to schools does not resolve or challenge this contradiction. 
Last week, 190 Educate Together teachers held their first conference in Dublin, while next month a new group is to be launched, under the title Education Equality, which asserts, entirely reasonably: “Equal respect for children and for the beliefs of their parents requires equal access to schools regardless of religion.” 
In 1966, minster for education Donogh O’Malley announced the introduction of free secondary education on the grounds that its absence was “a dark stain on the national conscience”. 
It was significant he did so in the year that marked the Easter Rising’s 50th anniversary; the idea that an initiative to give some meaning to the 1916 Proclamation’s promise of equality was necessary was in the political ether. 
It would be entirely fitting for an initiative to be undertaken by the State to erase the “dark stain” in relation to primary school admissions for the 100th anniversary of the Rising. 
There is no indication the political will exists to do that. The State instead is, ironically, sending a 1916 Proclamation to every primary school in the state. 
But this issue is not going away; the snakes are coming back and they are determined to stay."
David Aaronovitch wrote in the Times imagining that Marxist-Leninist schools opened, brainwashing children. He wrote:
"Make your schtick something to do with a deity and you can sell its ethos to the captive under-18s and, what’s more, expect to be able to claim charitable status and hence tax exemptions for doing so. Make it a political belief, and you can do neither. But there has always been a practical and logical problem with giving faith this privileged status. Since there can be no consistent or semi-scientific way of evaluating the — what shall we call it? — rectitude of one religion over another, any discrimination between the claims of one faith and another is arbitrary."
Victor Griffin, retired Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, said:
"With the kids. And I think at the very beginning when Lord Londonderry, he was the first Minister for Education in Northern Ireland in 1922, he said the first thing which you must do to bring about peace, reconciliation and harmony in Northern Ireland is to have all the children educated together. And the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches opposed that tooth and nail. They wanted to have their own schools, and to my mind this was very, very much against the whole teaching and spirit of the Christian Gospel, where you separate young children at a very tender age and bring them up in segregated religious denominational institutions, and so you implant straight away in their little minds a ‘Them and Us’ attitude, and as the course of time develops, We are better than Them. We are the ones, we are the chosen ones, we have got something that they haven’t got. And so you are planting the seeds of sectarianism right from the very beginning in these young people’s minds, and the churches are supposed to be devoted to the gospel of love and reconciliation and equality, and yet they have been embarking on a course which is the direct opposite of that, which is going to lead to the direct opposite to what the gospel of Jesus Christ advocates. And I feel strongly about that, and I’m sad to say all the churches in the past have been far, far too much concerned with preserving their own, what they call a ‘Catholic ethos'and a 'Protestant ethos’, and all this sort of thing instead of a Christian ethos."
Neil C. Fleming wrote in History Ireland about Lord Londonderry's attempt to create integrated education in Northern Ireland from 1923:
"The Government of Ireland Act 1920, section five, forbade the devolved Northern Ireland parliament from endowing any religious body with state funds: if schools wanted funding they could no longer be denominationally controlled. Quoting the constitution would not be enough to push reform through; political will and a significant cultural shift would also be required. Crucially, the churches would have to be persuaded—by inducement or punitive measures—to place their schools under the authority of the ministry and accept state appointments to management boards. Given their unparalleled access to the minds of the young, they would be reluctant to exact only a small price for relinquishing their hold."
He continued:
"In September 1921 Londonderry established the Lynn committee on education reform. It was hoped that all interested parties would sit on this body to explore ways of transferring schools to the state. Clerics from all of the major churches were invited to join, including Logue. The cardinal refused to join or allow others under him to do so."
And also wrote:
"The public had time to digest the interim report before legislative action was taken. Protestant churches, having played a significant role in its drafting, largely welcomed it, as did the Orange Institution. Catholic schools had lost financial backing from Dublin in October 1922 and so reluctantly recognised the education ministry’s authority in order to receive pay. Now fully involved in the system they resisted what they viewed as an attack on their religion and culture through the lack of full funding. Unlike the emerging Southern system, Northern Ireland’s proposed secular, and therefore to many nationalists, ‘British’, state schools would not promote Catholicism or Gaelicisation. Whilst not openly promoting strong British or Protestant values the new system was viewed by those outside that cultural group as doing so obliquely. It has been said by one recent historian that the Unionist-driven reforms were a ‘convenient cloak’ to cover anti-Catholic intentions. This argument fails to recognise the simple fact that the Catholic Church wounded itself by boycotting the reform process; it inevitability had a Protestant Unionist bias."

Read my post here on apartheid education in Northern Ireland. Read my previous blog post on this topic, ‘Irish teachers must be Catholic missionaries’ here.

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