Eamon Ryan clarifies support for Catholic schools

Green Party candidate Eamon Ryan has confirmed that he does support State funding for Catholic schools after confusion arose about his links with an Atheist Ireland campaign against faith-based schools.

Originally, the website of the campaigning group claimed that Green Party candidates, including Mr Ryan, supported a so-called secular statement circulated by the group. The website linked to a declaration agreed by atheist campaigners which, among other things, also calls for an end to charitable status for religious bodies and the removal of religious references from the Constitution.

However, Atheist Ireland has now admitted that neither Mr Ryan nor his party colleagues signed that declaration, instead opting for a watered-down version. After The Irish Catholic reported the initial controversy, Atheist Ireland published the revised statement.

Mr Ryan told The Irish Catholic: “I have never argued, said or expressed any view that State funding of religious education in schools should be discontinued”.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin have all refused to sign any of the controversial documents proposed by Atheist Ireland.

Mr Ryan told The Irish Catholic “I do accept that parents should have the option for a secular education for children but I would just as quickly defend the right of parents who do want a religious dimension in their children's school life.

“I believe the State should be willing and able to support such an approach. It is something that I prized in my own education and that I would like to see respected and continued,” he said.