Diversity debate needs more balance

Dear Editor, Colm Keaveney hit the nail on the head with regard to school patronage last week.

His critique of the ongoing debate, which Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described not so long ago as a ‘phoney’ war, is all the more interesting considering he is the former chairman of the Labour Party.

Mr Keaveney’s assertion that the issue of school divestment is being “driven by a highly-motivated minority within society” is spot on.

The entire debate has only arisen because a small minority of schools in certain affluent parts of Dublin are over-subscribed, forcing the schools to prioritise Catholic pupils, as is their right to do so.

The vast majority of schools, as research has shown, are not over-subscribed, and are accepting students of all faiths and none.

I am also yet to hear of any parent who has actually not found it possible to find a place for their child in a school.

While I agree that no parent should feel pressurised to have their children baptised in the hope that it might ‘bump’ them up the waiting list, Catholic schools should not be expected to simply hand over their schools without good reason.

The Forum on Pluralism and Patronage revealed there remains a huge demand for Catholic education – that should be respected.

If some schools are oversubscribed then it falls on the Government to build more.

I agree too with Mr Martin’s accusation that the Government is engaging in a ‘phoney’ war on Catholic schools in a bid to deflect attention away from cuts to education.

It makes perfect sense, especially in the lead up to a General Election, to spin the debate away from the core issues facing teachers.

It’s about time we got some balance on diversity debate at a time when our school are drastically underfunded.

Your etc.,

Martin McNamara,


Co. Clare.