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Minister Quinn announces his action plan on Patronage and Pluralism

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Deputy Ruairi Quinn

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairi Quinn TD, has today outlined his response to the report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the primary sector saying 'there is a compelling need for the patronage of our schools to reflect the changes that have already taken place in wider society'.

The Forum, which was a commitment in the Programme for Government, published its findings in April and responding to the report Minister Quinn spoke of how Ireland has changed 'demographically and socially'.

"We now have a much more diverse population than we had even two decades ago. In addition, many people's views about the place of religion in society and in their own lives have undergone profound change.

"This has led to an increase demand for new forms of multi-denominational and non-denominational schooling, as well as increased demand for Irish language schooling.

"Becoming more inclusive means ensuring that across the system as a whole there is respect for the diversity of traditions and religions from which pupils now come. This has to be done in a sensitive manner which takes account of where we are coming from as well as where we hope to go."

Minister Quinn said the increased demand calls for a plan for the future which will create a better match between the type of school provision available and the make-up of the communities they serve. Existing schools, particularly single primary schools catering for entire communities, need to be able to provide for a very diverse range of religious and nationalities, the Minister said.

Deputy John Lyons welcomed the plan saying it would give communities a full say in primary school patronage.

"[It] will start a process of engagment on the divestment of primary schools in an initial 44 areas previously identified by the Catholic Church. One of the initial 44 areas is Whitehall, which is in my constituency of Dublin North West. Parents in Whitehall and the other areas will be given full information on the different types of schools and the different patron bodies. Helplines will also be put in place during the survey period to deal with any queries they might have.

"I commend the Minister on his continuing work on pluralism and patronage. This work has started a process where communities have a framework to determine the patronage arrangements in their area while also being respectful of religious beliefs or none."

The process leading to divesting of patronage in areas of stable population will begin immediately with 44 town areas.
You can read what Minister Quinn said as well as finding out more details about the forum in our media centre.


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