Should Bishops Remain as Patrons of Our Schools?

An insider’s view of clerical control in Irish education

This is a post from a new contributor, Mairéad, who normally writes here.


I have been a primary teacher for 28 years, so I think that I am qualified to write about this one.

I have heard many commentators in the media calling for the church to cease their involvement in our schools and hospitals, especially since the publication of the Ryan Report and the Murphy Report.

Some people are saying that Bishops and priests only have titular roles now in our schools. These people are inferring that the church has no power and therefore, can do no harm, so should be left in situ.

In my experience, Bishops and priests do not have merely titular roles in our schools. Let me explain, and then you can tell me what you think.


* The local Catholic Bishop is the Patron of the vast majority of our primary schools.

* The Education Act (1998) made the role of the Patron a legal one, with rights and responsibilities enshrined in law.

* No principal can be appointed to a school, without the Patron sanctioning the appointment.

* No teacher can be appointed to a school, without the Patron sanctioning the appointment.

* The Bishop determines the ethos of the school, and is allowed by law to discriminate against certain teachers. For example, he is allowed to withhold sanction for an appointment if the teacher does not belong to the right religion, or happens to be gay / lesbian / bisexual.

* The Patron has the power to remove someone from the Board of Management, or indeed to dissolve the entire Board of Management.

* The Bishop sends out Religion inspectors (now called “diocesan advisors”) every single year to every single Primary school in Ireland. This, despite the fact that teachers are not even paid to teach religion.


* Until very recently, the local priest was the “Manager” of the local school, and answered to nobody at all. Many still act as if there has been no change.

* Nowadays, there are eight members of the Board of Management, but in reality the priest is still “the boss” in the vast majority of schools.

* I have met many, many priests in my years of teaching, and most of them have not been competent to “run” schools, but every single one of them has been the boss.

* Usually the priest is the Chairperson of the Board, and is the person with whom the Department of Education corresponds. This is a huge piece of power. Some priests I have known said they have written to the Department e.g. for funds, but they have not. In one case, children were left traipsing in the mud to outdoor toilets for nine unnecessary years, because the priest had refused to ask the Department for funding, but claimed that he had done so.

* The chairperson of the Board (the priest) is also the chairperson of any panel to appoint a principal or teacher. There are three usually on the selection board – the priest, the principal and an outside party taken from a list. That list, however, is compiled by the diocesan office and the priest gets to choose whoever he likes from it! In effect, then, the priest has two out of three votes, because that “outside” person is paid a fee, and will not be chosen again if they don’t play the game.

*Teachers must get a reference from their local PP and enclose it with any application for a teaching job. That reference had better say that the teacher is a regular mass-goer, or they might as well save the stamp. Did you know that?

* The priest makes sure that religion is taught in the schools, but doesn’t teach it himself.

* The priest insists that children are prepared for three sacraments (Reconciliation (confession), Eucharist (communion) and Confirmation) in the primary school – 2nd class and 5th / 6th class – but does not teach himself.

* 2nd class is almost completely taken over by two sacraments. If you’re not a Catholic, you miss out on weeks and weeks and weeks of your education.

* 5th / 6th class is the same, only maybe a bit worse, because the Bishop comes to this sacrament, so the priest wants to impress him – without doing any of the work. Again, non-Catholics are sitting there losing out on their education. Let’s face it; the Catholics are losing out on their education too!

* In other countries, including Catholic countries, religion is taught after school, so there is no loss of education, and people can choose to opt out if they wish. Not so in Ireland. In Ireland, parents have an entitlement to withdraw their children from the religion class, but as already outlined, they’d have to be at home for most of 2nd and 5th / 6th classes! In addition, many parents work, so they can’t be up and down to the school to remove their children during the religion class. Plus there is nowhere for children to go in the school, and no-one free to supervise them if there was, so these children have to sit in the classroom, absorbing the religion that their parents do not want. Worst of all, the Bishop / priests insist that religion is taught at 12 noon every day. If it were scheduled as the last lesson of the day, then the children could be collected early, but no! It is made as difficult as possible.

* Some priests go in to schools and ask the children to put up their hand if they were at mass that Sunday. Did you know that?

* Priests gather their altar servers for daily mass from the primary school, especially rural schools. Did you know that? So those children miss more of their education, not to mention what might happen to them in the church and walking unsupervised to and from the church.

* Priests often go into schools to hear the children’s confessions.  Did you know that? One to one, on their own. Did you know that? Without parental permission.  Did you know that?

This is merely a taste of the role of Bishops and priests in our primary schools.

So, what do you think?

Should Bishops remain as Patrons of our schools?

Should priests remain as Chairpersons of our Boards of Management?

Should priests and Bishops choose our teachers and our principal teachers?

Should teachers be regular mass goers only?

Should teachers be heterosexuals only?

51 thoughts on “Should Bishops Remain as Patrons of Our Schools?

  1. By way of clarification Educate together schools, of which there are two in Limerick, are run by the parents. They appoint their own board of management and all religious and etnic groups are welcome and indeed their diversity celebrated.
    The Catholics are not prejudiced against and prepare for their religious rites after school hours. Funnily enough this sometimes re-inforces their belief as the large number of non Catholics in the schools quiz them as to their beliefs.
    Regard to Bocks points above I would suggest the Educate Together school system is the future and fortunately is growing in leaps and bounds.

    Unfortunately when the kids leave the Limerick School Project they then have to go to a secondary school most of which are still controlled by the Church. Mass is celebrated and if you don’t like it tough. They are Catholic schools witha a Catholic Ethos paid for mostly by the Tax payer.

  2. Educate together schools certainly give people a choice. Regarding secondary schools, are the VEC run schools not controlled by the Church? I’m so long out of the system, I don’t know if they are. Could anybody clarify? The largest secondary schools in Limerick are VEC schools, i.e. Castletroy College (now the largest school in Munster after Ballincollig) and Hospital. That being said, which schools are parents queing for every year – the Catholic ethos schools. Each to his/her own I suppose.

  3. The history of the SchoolProject in Limerick is also the story of opposition from the church. The first teachers who were brave people to step outside the box when they knew they would never get a job in a catholic school again. Catholic parents being told there children would not be accepted in certain secondary schools. But despite all the opposition from church and state It works and it works very well. The umbrella organisation for project schools in Ireland is Educate Together. I believe we need something like this now for our Secondary school system.

  4. The power of Priests, most especially in small towns is very very active as we all know, The PP in my daughters area will not sign the form necessary for her 7 yr old to get the school bus, The circumstances are that she has a baby with a life long illness who needs a lot of care and taking the baby out so early these winter mornings to drive the 6 miles to the school is pressure she could well do without, She has called to his door, phoned him, explained everything, He insists that it would be a threat to the nearer school which was strangly full to capacity when she was forthright about her child not attending religious instruction, It is all still alive and kicking, It gives her a 24 mile round trip per day with a sick baby.
    I have decided to pay him a visit myself very soon, Although my own experience of that particular school was very poor as my youngest daughter was bullied so bad there I had to remove her, My letters to the board of management via the PP as Chairman went unanswered, I eventually wrote to the Dept of Ed and i’m sure my own history there has impacted on my daughter.
    There is no place for Religious power in hospitals or schools but we are a long way from disbanding the prejudiced groupings yet.

  5. It’s a truly sick society we live in with absolute evil scum still in receipt of full legal and Governmental backing for their perverted and criminal activities – not to mention also being very well paid for what they do. Thanks Mairéad, you provide a very clear picture of the real Irish Education system, an eye opener.

    Norma, please name the priest, I have no hesitation in stating that I will gladly visit him and happily remonstrate with him! How dare he breath the same air as that suffering family. I am not joking Norma, just name him and his location. If you can’t provide the information via this format another way can be found, also, an online campaign to expose him would be entirely welcome I’m sure.

  6. Norma — Nothing you said about this priest is defamatory. Therefore I would have no difficulty publishing his full details.

    Unstranger — I modified your comment slightly to stay within the law.

  7. Just a question, Norma – why is a priest’s signature necessary in order to avail of a school bus service which is the child’s right? Clearly there is something wrong when a state-sponsored service can only be accessed through the door of a church?

  8. BFH, sorry, you’re right. I should have clarified that I was writing about Catholic-run schools, on the whole. That’s the system I know best by far.
    Educate Together schools have their own Patron / body, as do Gaelscoileanna.
    When I said that every single school gets a visit every year from the “diocesan advisor” aka religion inspector, I should have inserted “Catholic” school.
    I should also have said, just to be fair, that some priests I have encountered are good people and can be quite helpful with the sacraments.

    Limericklass, hi. I’m primary not secondary, but the local VEC secondary schools hereabouts have the PP on the Board of Management, a chaplain in the school teaching religion, and mass during the year.

    thaiman, thanks for that.

    Norma, that’s a shocking story! It should never even be in the PP’s remit.
    I’m not standing up for the PP, but if he’s the Chairperson of the local school, he may claim that he can’t work against “his” school, by “allowing” children to attend elsewhere. It’s a ridiculous situation.
    Try this: contact bus eireann directly? Ask the principal to sign that form? Ask another member of the Board of Management (or all of them) to sign it? Contact the Bishop directly? Contact the local Department of Education and Science inspector directly? Threaten the papers! Best of all – do all of the above.
    Ring this main number to get the name of your local inspector – Tel: (01) 8896553 / 8892002

    unstranger, thanks for the passion. Some priests I have met are good people. Thye just didn’t have the expertise to run a primary school. If taxes are involved, the State should be too – fully.

    Scotlyn, priests have to sign quite a few bits and pieces in Ireland.

  9. Thanks BOCK but this guy has got to be tackled. Again, I have no problem standing up to such scum – I do it all the time! And bear in mind my motivation is simply: to stand in defence of a mother and child.

  10. To Unstranger, Bock, Scotlyn, Mairead, Thank you very very much for suggestions and help, Personally ’09 has overwhelmed us as a family, So much to process, So much urgent change and adaptation, We are admittedly very private people, So this is good as we tend not to discuss things outside our very immediate family, I am very grateful for this.
    To elaborate a bit further on the detail.
    The bigger primary school recently extensivly refurbished school would be under a mile from my daughters house, When she applied for admission for her son 3 years ago, She was told there was no room for him, At the time we mulled over the legacy of controversy I had left there, due to the bullying of my youngest daughter and who I removed from that school.
    The second primary school nearest my daughter is 6 miles away, the bus almost passes her door, She only applied for a seat on this bus post the CF diagnosis of her baby, The application was May ’09, She contacted Bus Eireann who told her there was space on the bus but she needed the signature on a form to state her child was unable to attend the nearer school.
    She asked the Principle of that school, The same Principle with who I had the difficulty re The bullying, Who informed her that it was the PP’s area of responsibility to sign the form, not her’s.
    My daughter has called to the PP’s house 25 times since last May ’09, She has informed him in detail of her rigerous daily regime with her baby, Who not only has a very severe mutation of CF but an additional and very rare attatched syndrome to the CF .
    There were times when she called that the PP’s secretary informed her that the PP was busy, on the telephone, in a meeting or not at home, He never returned a call.
    My daughter is not seeking to avail of the bus free of charge, she is willing and insistent on paying for it.
    On monday last she called to the PP’s house yet again, The PP informed her that there was now room in the nearer school for her son, as the 7 yr old is now 3 years in the other school, and the family has already experienced great disruption since April last, ie. The 7 yr old cannot any longer have friends call to play as their hygiene and sterilisation programme is extreme, to prevent any bacteria or errant virus from affecting the baby, She does not want to compromise a 7 yr old further by taking him from the small school he is now secure and happy in and transferring him to a much larger school where he would’nt know anyone, Is that not just a basic wish for your child ?
    The PP told her on monday last that he would let her know by fri 18th dec ’09, He never called, but on that monday he stated that he felt that the bigger school would be at risk of losing a teacher if he signed the form for a child resident within a mile of the school to avail of a bus service to another school.
    The nearer school is a very big primary school by small town standards, in a fairly populated area, I find it impossible to believe they would be at any risk of losing a teacher.
    Yes, I have my own opinions as to why this is happening, We are not members of his ” flock ” added to other issues I mentioned from the past.
    I discussed this with my daughter this evening, I am going to call on him to-morrow, armed with all the information provided on this site,
    I thank you profoundly Bock, If he does not sign the form to-morrow , We will name him and the school here, and go to the media, I would not like to take action of any kind against anyone without informing them first, After 7 months of unacknowledged requests time is up.

  11. Norma, I think I know now what this PP is at.
    He refused your grandchild entry, saying the school was full, 3 years ago.
    Whether it was or it wasn’t, he got rid of ye.
    Now, though, you need him to state in writing that the school is full, and that the child cannot attend – in order for him to get the bus.
    If the school was not full, that is now putting him in a pickle, you lot asking for things in writing!
    That is probably his problem.
    Even if the school was full, you could have appealed the refusal.

    Now, 3 years later, you don’t want to go to that school.
    It could very well be that they want your grandchild to save a teacher.
    The size of the school is not really an indicator.
    Batt O’ Keeffe has increased the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) by only one pupil, he says, but it is one per class, so that adds up.
    If they need your grandson for numbers, then you are in a very strong position.
    Pretend they can have him if it gives your power!
    This time of the year though, numbers don’t matter. The magic date is Sept 30th. In this case, last Sep 30th, so even if your grandson moves to this school, his number will not count for this year. He will not save a teacher. This PP seems to be talking through his hat??

    If he won’t write the note / sign the letter because he lied about being full…
    Lessen his angst by asking for a letter stating that 3 years ago, the school was full, no more.
    You can then add your own letter (your daughters) and strongly state that the child is now setlled and it would cause emotional damage to move him now.
    Bus Eireann won’t care if you are paying for the service.

    Know that this PP is giving you the royal run around, and it has now caught up with him!
    The principal also could easily have written a note to the effect that the child was refused admittance due to the school being full 3 years ago – unless that was not the case?
    If I were you, I would threaten the school with the inspector, and carry out that threat.
    Ring that number and tell your story.
    We are with you.

  12. Bock; I will take that sagely advice on board !
    Mairead; Thats some powerful analysis, and I thank you for it, now i see the conundrum, I will pack all of that neatly into my approach to-morrow, and I will let you know here how it is met.
    Having had several meetings with aforementioned Principle in relation to my youngest daughter, when she was 9, the bullying was extreme, resulting in a very sensitive child getting night terrors and inability to eat, being very unhappy, I was trying to access every avenue logically and reasonably and supply the Principle with the information necessary to prevent the bullying and not directly intervene myself.
    The only response she gave me time and time again was to reiterate her method’s, which were to tell my daughter to go to the Teacher in charge at time of incidents occuring and taking it from there, I refused to encourage my daughter to further exposure by being seen to complain the other pupil several times a day.
    The end result was I ended up telling the Principle how hopelessly inept she was at carrying out her duty, her refusal to protect my daughter from this bullying was because of her close friendship with the mother of the bully, I recall she ended the final meeting by telling me she was in a hurry as she was attending a talk being given by Tony Humphreys, I responded by telling her there was no point in her attending that talk as she did not possess the capacity to understand what he would talk about, So to say we ended on a bad note, I think we did !
    I removed my daughter and wrote to the board of management…..different PP then, and I put it in writing to Dept of ED.
    Therefore I labelled myself a ” troublemaker ” now it has leached into the next generation, my grandchild, but it will be futile going over old ground, just need to deal with the situation as it is now……..Thanks again

  13. WHY…WHY…WHY…. does the church have so much power in Ireland, we are a very brave and inteligent people I am sick of been dictated , preached and looked down on by the catholic church……as a child i was turned away by the church when i needed help, I now choose to turn away from the church, life is precious not a comodity to fill the churches coffers

  14. I know you have been saying it for years Bock, and Mairead – thank you for giving such lucid (albeit very troubling) details on the power that these individuals have. As a nation we continue to put the same old cheating politicians in office… we keep on filling the coffers of the church whose odious tentacles have reached everywhere from schools, to hospitals to the halls of (ha ha) power in the Dail…

    I have lived overseas for the bones of 10 years now, and when asked if / when I will move home to Ireland, the unfortunate reality is that (a) I can’t afford to, with the way the financial system has been mismanaged, and (b) why would I want to subject my kids to mental and physical risk, as a result of the nations collective kowtowing to a rancid church full of hypocrites.

    Remembering back to my own school days in the Christian Brothers in the 80’s… some things were certain: teachers and parents alike were terrified of the PP, and come Confirmation year, (Mairead makes a very valid point) – when we were supposed to be getting skilled to enter in to secondary school and beyond, we were being drilled in marching, chanting, responding in unison – week after week, month after month. (You better not feck this up on the BIG DAY, ya little snot…) Ah the memories…

    Taxpayers are paying for the education system, right? If you paid for a service from any private educational institution and found that their agenda was being controlled by men of the cloth whose motives have been continually demonstrated to be less than pure, you would probably want your money back… Or at least options.

    “Fascists dress in black and go around telling people what to do, whereas…priests… More drink!!” Fr Ted Crilly.

  15. Recent update on Bus debacle , I am completly snowed and iced in this morning, I live at top of very steep hill , So unable to call on PP, however my daughter called him, newest response is Principle of school is now totally denying she ever said school was full ! !
    Bock’s comment at 16 was prophetic !
    Mairead; you are totally correct and i’m going to carry out all the suggestions you made.
    PP is now approaching with altered attitude as in claiming he needs to ” investigate ” further, does that mean he has to decide who is lying ? The Principle or my daughter ?
    I thought i was done with that Principle 12 yrs ago, apparantly not.

  16. Bock, Would not the Taliban envy Ireland and its totalitarian teocratcy. In fact many totalitarian regimes would dearly love the Irish model. Just look at its construction. There is hardly any area where it is not active. In fact why do you need a parlament with elected members when the real running of the country is being carried out by agents of a foreign jurisdiction. One can postulate that Ireland is occupied and run by a corporation whose members are of dubious moral fiber as shown time and time again. A republic in the true sense of the word it is not. minus 15 celcius.

  17. I thought I smelled a rat, Norma!
    It now looks like the PP is playing for time, and hoping that Christmas will get you to forget all of this.
    Keep the pressure hot.
    My prediction – he will save himself and let the principal swing if it comes to it.
    That is no good to you and that bus.
    My advice – when one of them caves, get them to write anything at all that says the child couldn’t attend 3 years ago and is now settled in another school.
    It might be a good idea (it would) to get a doctor’s letter stating that your grandchild should not be dragged out every day in the car etc…, and send that to bus eireann with a cheque for the next term!! They’ll hardly turn down the money!
    Bypass the PP, but still give him a good warming?
    Word of caution – it should be your daughter making these approaches, they will tell you.
    That is true, and confidentiality is very important.
    If your daughter is happy to let you “help”, you can get her to put that in writing for you, and you can produce it if that becomes a stumbling block.

  18. That rat is smelling very pungent at the moment !
    I completly take on board that my daughter has to be seen to make all approches, as it would only provide further excuses if I went to the forefront of the problem.
    PP did return her call to-day, but just to say he could’nt contact the Principle, that term was almost over and it would have to deferred, What was it you said !
    My daughter is informing PP in the morning that she is going public with the issue, That she wants her son on that bus when school recommences.
    I had neglected to tell you, My daughters older son, now 13, attended that same school, She encountered the same problems as i did, The humiliation tactics in class, The playground bullying, She had several confrontations with the same Principle who did not realise we were Mother and daughter until I attended a meeting at my daughters request, She withdrew her eldest son from the school when the younger one failed to gain entry.
    I could now be drifting from the real issue of this post, my apologies for that.
    The real issue though, regardless of the Principle or the tactics engaged in, It is the PP who has the power to decide if or not this 7 yr old boy can access the facility to a bus going to his school, and I find that power ludicrous and unacceptable, I simply do not understand why he has a role there at all.
    I suggested to my daughter what you said about writing to the Bishop, I will have to google it because neither of us have any idea who he is !

  19. Bock, If I can in any way contribute to that resistence you only have to ask. No you don,t have to ask.

  20. Perhaps the experiment as you once said has failed, well bring it on as a failure may contain some sense of renewell.

  21. If only we could get rid of the hrist and the Catholic Church out of our lives we could all go to hell quietly.

  22. I have just googled it and apparantly I would have to write to one Willie Walsh, As I reside apparantly between Loop head in W. Clare and Kinnity in Sth Offaly, There are 58 parishes and 124 preiests, that no is a bit confusing as there was another site claiming a 50% drop in the diocese,
    Thats some whoppin big Diocese.
    So then, does anyone know where I might find one Willie Walsh, or at least correspond with him ?
    Just realised I know about 3 Willie Walsh’s I wonder if he’s one of them !

  23. Oh that WW. ex Aer Lingus ?
    Sorry posted in wrong place last time, got distracted, so much research to-night.
    I had right diocese for myself, but only 2 miles apart my daughter falls into another diocese, Have all the details now, Will try making contact with Archbishop to-morrow.
    According to my research this Archbishop has been appointed ” troubleshooter ” ( not quite the term used by the Vatican ) by the Pope, So I will be expecting great things from him !

  24. I personally think the church should have absolute zero rights or power to do with schools or anything to do with children. In the 1980’s we had a priest involved with our school and I hope he dies very very slowly, I’m 35 now and I still feel like a piece of shit, I was in the Choir for a while and an alter boy. Because of him I have nothing to do with the church and only started to pray when my daughter was born so she could learn her religion. I don’t want their abuse money I don’t want anything to do with them or their so called church again. But most of all I will never have my daughter left in their confessionals alone. I’m actually shaking writing this and I am not what anyone would call soft. I think under no circumstances should any Bishop, Priest or glorified priest (pope) be in charge nor have any unaccompanied access around children. They are the scum of the earth.

    To anyone who’s not connected to the church who finds this offensive, I apologise but it’s how I feel.

  25. No need to apologise, Stephen.
    The power of truth rages through your post.
    I was shaking myself reading it, you told it so well. Thank you.
    I’m very sorry for your experience, but it could still happen today.

    Please don’t feel you have to answer this question, but I’m wondering what it is about us Irish?
    We have a less than good experience of religion ourselves, and yet we want to pass it on.

  26. Stephen — The priest’s name had to be removed from your comment for obvious reasons. Apart from identifying the individual abuser, you’re absolutely free to comment in any way you wish.

  27. Norma, I’m late coming back to this thread, and you may already have contacted the Bishop. If not, may I recommend a bit of emotional blackmail – think of the effect this is having on your daugher, as a mother simply trying to care for her younger CF child, and to do the best she can by her older school-going child.

    She is what the Catholic church LOVES. A MOTHER trying to do right for her FAMILY! And…. being prevented from doing so by a PRIEST. Which looks very BAD. And might easily add to the horrible IMAGE PROBLEM currently being suffered by the Church. If you present this IMAGE PROBLEM as one that you are there to SOLVE by allowing the church to help your grandchild get on the bus and let your daughter do some better MOTHERING, you may find the Bishop surprisingly amenable.

    Look how quickly the Listowel priest got the bum’s rush. Just now is not a time that the church wants bad press. Don’t forget, you are the one who is now ideally placed to save them from potential further embarrassment. They don’t know it yet, but they need you more than you need them. This puts you in the driving seat. Best of luck in pursuing what should never have gone this far in the first place!

  28. Stephen, sorry to hear of your experience and feeling that way from it – you are far from that.. it’s very brave to say it out.

  29. Mairéad Personally speaking my own idea of the Irish life is a strange one, Our Laws are a sham and out dated, Our religion is sound in practice if you don’t read the Bible as a Law or the way of life, But the institution which supposedly stands for our religion is a Sham in more ways than one, But they say there is a Heaven, Hell and the in between purgatory which in some of our lives maybe its the way it is? Most people see me and don’t think of saying boo to me, I think I should say I’m a Doorman and snatchteam against drugs , But when I’m not doing my job I look after my Mum and my Family. Life has kicked me in the guts so many times but I still kept running my life. Irish people get the wrong end of the stick co’s we always carry on. As it is said God only gives you the cross you can carry…Makes no sense to me either but It’s just some people get a raw deal in life and some of us loose alot of our childhood just learn to grow up very fast, grit our and not let life bother us no matter what comes. Don’t know if thats an answer to your question though…

    To Bock my Apologies for that. Sorry

  30. Scotlyn ; Thank you for taking the time to write that advice, I totally see your point , Just get the job done.
    Neither my daughter or I would feel comfortable with any degree of emotional blackmail or guilt , Neither of us are members of the Catholic church or any church, The level of, maybe for want of a better word or maybe it is the perfect word, nobility in purpose required to deal with this illness requires us to be certain kind’s of people, not only on the surface but at a much deeper level.
    I’m struggling a little to explain myself because I don’t wish to appear disrespectful to your advice which I know was given with absolute sincerity.
    Once we gathered ourselves from the initial shock at diagnosis, We made a pact to become better, stronger more focused people as an entire family, The reality of that is it’s a step by step day by day retention of that focus, priority and love, because it’s easy to lapse into old way’s.
    My grandson is fully entitled to access transport to his school, the intricate little games played out by the PP and the Principle ( who is a woman and a Mother ) will not be met with any lack of purpose, Those two people are presently aware of the baby’s condition, They simply don’t care.
    The Archbishop will be made aware of all the facts but thats all, the facts, and my determination that my grandson will be on that bus in january 2010 is largely due to the support on this site, Thank you does’nt cover it.

  31. Stephen ; Can I just say, Your comments contain such resonance of pain, courage and sheer grit , You sound like you have taken on the struggle to march to your own tune and through your pain.
    Don’t let the past take an atom from your present, You are doing a great job, be proud of your progress and I wish you all the happiness and contentment you deserve.

  32. Norma, don’t worry – in general I don’t believe in giving advice unasked for, and I certainly strongly believe that even when given, that’s all it is – advice. You will do what you have to do, and in your own style and at your own pace.

    My grandson is fully entitled to access transport to his school, the intricate little games played out by the PP and the Principle ( who is a woman and a Mother ) will not be met with any lack of purpose

    Hear, Hear!
    I just hoped that if you saw that from an outsiders point of view, you may have more potential power in this situation than you realise (the Church really does not need another story like this one, which any decent news editor would be all over in a minute), this might give you additional strength for negotiation (on top of the native strength yourself and your family already have in supporting one another through all you’ve been through). I have great faith in you, and will be waiting to hear how it pans out.

  33. PS – Stephen, I second Norma, Audrey and Mairead. You’re brave to speak out, and thank you.

  34. I wasnt brought up a Christian. I know little about Christianity. A man in a funny hat carrying a crooked stick is a man in a funny hat carrying a crooked stick. I dont want men in funny hats and carrying crooked sticks to have anything to do with my healthcare, social care, education……
    I dont get how going to Priest school for a few years and doing some sort of apprenticeship equips anyone to be my spritual guide – sorry just dont get it.

  35. Hi Paul,
    “I dont get how going to Priest school for a few years and doing some sort of apprenticeship equips anyone to be my spritual guide – sorry just dont get it”.

    Whatever about being a spiritual guide, I can vouch that it does not equip priests or Bishops or Popes to run schools or hospitals.
    Each Diocese has an Education Secretary for example – a priest. These men have huge powers, claim many years of experience in interviewing teachers, training Boards of Managements and the like – but know very, very little about teaching, teachers or education, whatever they claim!

    (Yes, I did say “training” Boards of Management. The Catholic church trains members of the Board of Management how to behave on the Board. Confidentiality is a big thing with them, which is fine, but it is used to keep everyone in the dark).

  36. Hi M.
    Have some involvement with Boards (not schools Boards), appointments processes and training.
    From my position of ignorance with regard to Christianity and the Church I must admit to being absolutely staggered, astonished, flabbergasted and shocked that a religious organisation would be involved in such things. Insidious doesnt begin to describe the picture I am starting to see. Scary scary stuff!

  37. Its a difficult one. For me its a question of getting the right people in the right positions for the right reasons – the merit principle -everything else follows. To start along that path you probably need a few like minded people – decent politician, decent lawyer, decent union rep and decent journalist – start educating us about what really goes on and challenging the patronage nonsense and beating the drum for the merit principle. There is a patriotic message in there somewhere – if we want the country back on its feet (morally, socially, economically) we need the right people in the right positions doing the right things for the right reasons. There should be much to gain for the politician / lawyer / journalist beyond simply doing the right thing. The union people must have someone in their ranks willing to get involved. The starting point could be anywhere – the level could be any level – the politician can be anyone whose voice will be heard in the political arena, the lawyer anyone with an interest in employment law, and the journalist anyone with access to a reasonable audience. There are plenty of models to learn from – other countries have had to take steps to clean up the processes by which people are appointed to postions of authority. Dont know if this is of any use to you but a few like minded people with a bit of thought can achieve a lot. Let the anger develop into cool headed strategy. You seem pretty cool headed to me.

  38. Norma’s experience seriously worries me. It was one of my main concerns when I filled in the form to “opt out” of catholicism. My parents, siblings and friends said “remember, your child will not be able to go to a catholic school”. We don’t have children as yet, but are planning on starting a family soon. I have opted out of catholicism because I simply could not remain a part of a church just because it would mean my choice in schools for my future children would be limited. Its an absolute disgrace that still in Ireland the vast majority of schools are run by religious organisations…I mean its totally laughable given the outcome of the murphy and ryan reports…the rest of the world must be laughing their heads off at us…and I don’t actually blame them. The area we live in is the area we will live in for at least the next 5 years given the current economic climate! There is a school across the road but its a convent run school, the nearest non-denominational primary school is a good bit away and doesn’t have a very good record, its in quite a rough area…the nearest “educate together” school is in citywest and should be open soon, however its still a good bit away…I can only hope that by the time we start a family and have school-age children that the prospects have changed for us in our area. Still, its such an awful shame that we do not have access to good schools for our children just because they are not catholic. I REFUSE to have any child of mine baptised into a church and organisation I don’t believe in, just so they can attend a decent school.

  39. Good blueprints, Paul. Thank you. It will take a lot of people to change our country.

    It is very difficult, Elizabeth. I decided to keep my children’s options open, and went with the status quo.
    As a teacher, I really had no choice if I wanted to keep my job, or get another job in another school…

  40. Mairead; I will put my question to you here, Is it normal procedure that criteria for entry to a Primary school changes every year ?
    Would that criteria be directed by Board of Management, Principle or Dept of ED ?
    It has been suggested that my daughter just lie about where she live’s, Thats an extraordinairy way round red tape in my opinion.
    Just to cl;arify for you ” entry criteria ” could this mean on which month of the year a child has their 4th birthday ?
    Becoming seriously confused about all of this.
    Elizabeth; If you are still reading this, Please don’t worry too much, You might find that it is necessary to undo a lot of what a child has to contend with once the leave the home environment for school, Its their first step into the “world” and influences you might reject for your child, It’s a step by step process and influences come from many sources, some good some bad.
    I found some people along the way easy to communicate with and very co-operative, some not so much but once you get a handle on what you want from the system it gets easier, Another task in weaving your way through, Don’t worry though.
    Very much appreciate your insight.

  41. Is it normal procedure that criteria for entry to a Primary school changes every year ?

    Would that criteria be directed by Board of Management, Principle or Dept of ED ?
    Board of Management, of which the Principal is a member.
    In recent years, the DES have taken a particular interest in enrollment forms and enrollment policies.
    This is because there have been appeals to children being refused entry to a school.
    It is very dodgy ground legally.
    Unless a school is “full” they cannot really refuse admittance to any child.
    “Full” means x children divided by the number of class teachers in the school, depending on the pupil-teacher ratio ladi down by the Minister of Ed. Currently it is 29 per teacher, so if the school has 10 “class” teachers (i.e. teaching a class, not for example the learning-support teacher) then the school is “full” at 291 pupils.

    It has been suggested that my daughter just lie about where she live’s, Thats an extraordinairy way round red tape in my opinion.
    That would get the school “off the hook”, BUT it would also get the child on the bus.
    It might be worth it to get him on the bus? Only you can decide.

    Just to cl;arify for you ” entry criteria ” could this mean on which month of the year a child has their 4th birthday ?
    It might, but might not be upheld, and unless the school is “full” would probably fail. (Can never be certain 100%).

    Becoming seriously confused about all of this.
    No wonder!

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