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 Header Item Equal Participation in Schools Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members] (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2017: Message from Select Committee

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 950 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry] A mere 25% of them found that their gender had been acknowledged in school. Just 9% could participate in sport and 91% could not according to their chosen gender. It is an absolute disgrace, and that is apart from the problems that those young trans people face in terms of school trips, sports teams, uniforms, bathroom facilities in school, bullying and so on and so forth. That is down to ethos.

  I quote the following experience of one parent:

As foreigners and parents of Irish children living in Ireland, we are the most affected with the educational system in Ireland which is based on catholic ethos and spirit, some of the Muslim students and their parents in our community, experienced difficulties in Catholic’s primary and secondary schools, some of the students were forced to attended mass in the churches and to participate in religion classes, which is contrary to their belief and conscience, consequently they felt discriminated against and that their right as human was violated. Some of them were expelled and some were asked to leave, many families and students from other faiths are suffering in silence.

That is from a submission from a Muslim parent to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in recent years. It is an example of the situation in the major cities of this country. That is what the Minister stands over and describes as a republic. It is an absolute disgrace in reality.

  The fact is the people are a million miles ahead of the Minister on these issues. Findings from a poll commissioned by Equate asked questions of members of the public. A total of 72% of respondents agreed that the law should be changed in order that baptism can no longer be a requirement for school admission to State-funded schools. They are a million miles ahead of the Government. Some 24% of people said that they personally would not have baptised their child if it was not needed to gain entry to the school. A total of 71% agreed that the time had come for church bodies to have less influence over our local schools. That is miles ahead of the Government.

  The reality is this Bill, far from being incredibly far-reaching or radical, is actually very modest. It does not take the ownership of schools out of the hands of religious institutions. It merely applies some basic democratic conditions to the situation. It allows for a situation in which a board of management can state what it wants for a school and does not have to be bound by the ethos imposed upon it by the church organisation that runs the school. I do not see any reason parents who send their children to Gaelscoileanna would want to overthrow that ethos in those schools. That is a red herring. It is perhaps not quite as ridiculous as the points made about rugby-playing schools.

  It is also a modest proposal in the sense that it allows for religious education and instruction within school buildings. The terrible atheists from the benches on this side of the House are proposing that school buildings might be allowed for religious education and instruction, but on two conditions: that it is not within the core hours of the school when it is funded by the taxpayer but organised after hours; and that the children who do not want to participate in it are not left twiddling their thumbs at the back of the class or, as Deputy Coppinger explained, left to play with the crayon they are given by the school authorities, but rather are provided with a real and genuine alternative in terms of what would be done with their time.

  The big two capitalist parties in this House, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, have a real problem on their hands now. The mood in society is changing. There is a new emerging majority. Women and young people are central to it and many progressive thinking men are part of it as well. They are coming to the position that we need to separate the church from the State in this country. On abortion, the Government is pointing in the opposite direction. On prayers in this House, the Government is pointing in the opposite direction. On the national maternity hospital, the Government is pointing in the opposite direction. In terms of how schools are run, the Government is pointing in the opposite direction. It is pointing in the wrong direction. There is an emerging majority that is looking for something very different. If the Minister is not prepared in a genuine and wholehearted way to cater for and satisfy that demand, he will be bypassed as well.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Cuireann sé sin deireadh leis an díospóireacht ar an Dara Céim den Bhille um Rannphairtíocht Chomhionnan i Scoileanna 2016.

  Amendment put.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 18 May 2017.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett On a point of order, can the Government amend a Bill?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Of course it can.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett With a motion?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Government can amend a Bill, yes.

Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Select Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment has completed its consideration of the Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017 and has made no amendments thereto.

Estimates for Public Services 2017: Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Select Committee on Education and Skills has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimates for Public Services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2017: Vote 26 - Education and Skills.

  The Dáil adjourned at 9.35 p.m. until 12 noon on Wednesday, 17 May 2017.


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