Education Religion

Rule 68 finally abolished after 50 years

Poor old David Quinn is having a meltdown. Fresh from his humiliating defeat in the Marriage Equality referendum in which the people of Ireland rejected him and all that he stands for, he now faces the removal of the absurd Rule 68, and he sees that as an attack on his cherished “faith schools”.

Dave, of course, being no stranger to bending reality, fails to mention that Rule 68, along with all its fellow rules, was only introduced in 1964, and that his clerical school managers got on fine in the years leading up to that. Indeed, those same school managers managed to abuse so many children we ended up with statutory investigations to find out what they were getting up to.

Let’s see exactly what Rule 68 says.

Of all parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject matter, God’s honour and service, includes the proper use of all man’s faculties, and affords the most powerful inducements to their proper use. Religious Instruction is, therefore, a fundamental part of the school course, and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school.

No it’s not. Religious instruction is not by far the most important part of a school curriculum. Only an idiot would suggest such a thing, but isn’t vivify a great word? Would anyone except a bishop use a word like vivify? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone using this word but of course, that’s probably because I haven’t been mixing with lads from Maynooth.

Vivify. As someone who loves language, I must admit I would never use such an inflated, self-important word, but then again, I’m not a bishop.

Doesn’t Rule 68 have McQuaid’s creepy fingerprints all over it? And doesn’t it betray the craven attitude of the civil servants who allowed McQuaid and his fellow priests to dictate to this independent republic what its educational policy should be?

Is there a huge difference between the mindset that vivifies modern Muslim madrassas and that which created our current primary school system?

Not being a man with a great grasp of logic, Dave Quinn has been spinning all day about the loss of protection for his personal faith delusion, even though our national schools were originally set up as a non-denominational system. Dave has been suggesting, with no logic at all, that the removal of Rule 68 will somehow remove his power to inflict religion on children. Dave, somehow, appears to be unaware that religious indoctrination carried on just fine prior to 1964 when Rule 68 was first written.

It’s over.

The days are gone when John Charles McQuaid told the government what to write into law and poor Dave, who in many ways is a likeable sort of fellow, needs to realise that.

Over the years Dave has demonstrated a semi-detached relationship with rational thought, thereby turning his ludicrous political lobby group into the Guantanamo of logic. Iona: where common sense goes to be tortured.

I don’t care what fetish people cling to. If feet are your thing, that’s fine. If you like bicycles, so be it. If you want to hang on a cross, that’s ok too, but really, the cross Dave likes to hang on defeats all logic. Let Dave fantasise all he likes about being a victim while he hangs there on his cross, but meanwhile Irish parents need to get their children educated in real subjects like science and critical thinking instead of Dave’s magic.

Here’s one thing you will never hear David Quinn talking about: the Catholic bishops’ determined efforts to obstruct the creation of multi-denominational schools in Ireland. And there’s a good reason why Dave will never talk about that nasty little period in our history. It doesn’t fit in with his false narrative of tolerance.

If Dave wants to indoctrinate our children in his magic, he’s free to do it on a Sunday when the taxpayer isn’t footing the bill. We’ll even pay for the classrooms. We’re good like that.


Rule 68. Revising Ancient Guidelines for Primary Schools

Education Religion

Rule 68. Revising Ancient Guidelines for Primary Schools

The news today is full of education minister, Jan O’Sullivan’s decision to revise the rules for national schools, especially Rule 68, issued in 1964 under the minister of the day, Dr Patrick Hillery.

Rules for National Schools

Reading them now, they come across as utterly bizarre, a remnant from an Ireland that no longer exists, some strange, authoritarian, religious-dominated, backward-looking, sexist, introverted anomaly of a country, much like a Catholic version of the Islamic State after the fighting had settled down.  And yet there are elements of the rules that reveal a quiet revolution taking place, a gentle rolling back of clerical power beneath all the religious huffing and puffing that the document is prone to.

Radio and television have their demands.  They need to come up with the soundbite, unfortunately, just as the printed media do in their own way, which is why it’s understandable that they latched on to the absurd Rule 68.

Let me quote Rule 68 for you.

Of all parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject matter, God’s honour and service, includes the proper use of all man’s faculties, and affords the most powerful inducements to their proper use. Religious Instruction is, therefore, a fundamental part of the school course, and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school.

Of course, the technical term for this sort of thing is Bollocks and what a shame that it should still survive a full 50 years after it was first pushed out by the Department of Education on behalf of the minister, Paddy Hillery.  In the modern world it stands up to no scrutiny whatever and can instantly be demolished by  reductio ad absurdum.

Since a child of non-believers does not receive a religious instruction, that child has been deprived of the most important part of the school curriculum and also deprived of a fundamental part of the school course.  It therefore follows that the parents of that child have been negligent.

Now, what ideologue would like to knock on anyone’s  door and accuse them of being  a negligent parent for withdrawing their children from religion classes?

Context is everything, and 1964 was a time when governments still struggled under the gimlet eye of the appalling John Charles McQuaid and his episcopal fellow-abusers, and therefore the inclusion of Rule 68 doesn’t surprise me.  What does surprise me is that successive governments, throughout the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s and the zeroes allowed this miserable piece of clerical arse-licking to remain in existence.

Despite all that, however, Rule 69 brings a few surprises.  True, it does acknowledge that men are superior to women, as do many other rules, sadly.

69 (1) The religious denomination of each pupil must be entered in the school register and roll-book.  This information should be ascertained from the parent (the father if possible) or the guardian of the pupil where necessary.

Now, observe that wording.  Ignore the institutionalised sexism of the Irish state in 1964 and note that the pupil’s religious denomination should be recorded.  Here you have a clear demonstration that there are in fact no religiously-controlled National schools in Ireland, despite what the church authorities and some civil servants would have you believe.  The Irish primary school system was set up in 1831 (by the English, God forbid!)  to be entirely multi-denominational and it’s only by an ad-hoc sleight of hand that they came to be otherwise, controlled by parish priest or rector as the case may be.

But let us go on.  What else does Rule 69 say?

2 (a) No pupil shall receive, or be present at, any religious instruction of which his parents or guardian disapprove.

That’s pretty radical, wouldn’t you agree?  Not only radical, but ignored wholesale for the last 50 years by rabidly religious school principals walking all over the rules with hobnailed boots.

Your kids have a right to a secular education if you desire it.  It’s that simple, and yet, this right has been resisted by every priest, bishop and screechy self-appointed parent-mullah since the foundation of the State.

Paddy Hillery, ironically, was actually a reforming education minister who ended the class barriers in education, who gave every student access to State exams, who set up comprehensive schools and regional technical colleges, and who laid the basis for Donough O’Malley’s impetuous announcement of free secondary education for all.  If politics is the art of the possible, perhaps he calculated that these things were only possible provided he paid lip service to the religious extremists of his time.

But that time is gone and now it’s time to say goodbye to such nonsense.

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