TAKE CHURCHES OUT OF SCHOOLS
I BELIEVE THAT ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BE STATE SCHOOLS AND THAT GOVERNMENT AND TAX PAYERS MONEY SHOULD NOT BE USED TO TEACH AND SPREAD RELIGION AND DENOMINATIONALISM.
I have always believed this but was reminded of it again when I read in today's IRISH TIMES that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, is defending the policy of giving first place to children who are baptised Roman Catholics.
Over 90% of schools in the Republic of Ireland is run by the Roman Catholic Church - in spite of the fact that the vast majority of the population no longer practises the Roman Catholic religion.
Diarmuid Martin himself commented on the failure of these schools to impose Roman Catholic dogma on the people they educate when over 62% of the Irish electorate voted to allow Gay Marriage in Ireland against the wishes and instructions of the RC hierarchy. So these schools are even failing to achieve the RC agenda.
The fact is that Ireland is fast becoming a modern, European, secular and pluralist democracy in which, thank God, the churches have less and less influence. It is a contradiction for such a democracy to allow any church to have a monopoly in schools.
If the Roman Catholic Church wants to have its own schools they should have to pay 100% of the costs for them like they have to do in the USA.
All schools should be state schools and should be run by the government and by the parents of the children attending the schools. When it comes to awarding places to children in those schools things like a religious baptism should play no role whatsoever. Particular schools in particular areas should be there to serve the children and parents of that area.
This would also remove the control of children, parents and teachers from the local parish priest or clergy.
When I was a curate in Kilkeel in County Down I served as the secretary of five primary schools. When I took over the task I was totally shocked at the nepotism that operated within the Roman Catholic school system in Northern Ireland.
Normally the parish priest was the chairperson of the management committee and many of those parish priests were bullies and practised nepotism and favouritism.
Teachers who were related to clergy or teachers who "licked up" to the clergy were given first preference when it came to appointments and promotions.
There was even among the clergy a known but unwritten "black list" of teachers who were wasting their time applying for jobs and promotions.
This system ensured that the clergy favourites - whether they were competent or not - rose to the top and very often the best and most competent of teachers were left behind. It was down right unjust and corrupt.
I do not believe that there has been much change in this area and I still hear horror stories from parents and teachers about some of the things that go on in the RC school system.
We need a total revolution in schooling in Ireland - North and South - and a large part of that revolution will involve telling the clerics who control education to get on their bikes!