Councillor John Paul Feeley has called on the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn TD and the Government to stop attacking our primary schools in response to a demand from Minister Quinn that schools drop religion in favour of maths and literacy.
‘Minister Quinn seems to have some sort of fix on the issue of religion in our schools. He seems to think that the education of children is purely about producing economic units instead of well rounded citizens and that the solution to every ill in the primary system involves an attack on religion and more often than not the Catholic Church.’
Noting that Minister Quinn is presently implementing a policy that has designated 48% of our national schools as ‘small’ and therefore subject to a higher pupil teacher ratio that will, this year see 148 small schools lose a further teacher the Fianna Fáil Councillor stated that Minister Quinn is following an ‘anti-rural, anti-small school and anti-faith policy’ in the Department of Education.
‘One of the key elements of a Republic is the right of citizens to equality and the free practice of religion. Across this region schools of all Christian dominations serve their community and it is the duty of Government to protect the right of all religions to have such facilities. Many of these schools cater for pupils of other religions or indeed none and do so in a respectful manner. It is worth noting in UK and the US schools with a religious ethos at their core are growing and are achieving the highest academic results whereas this present Government seems determined to blindly follow its anti-faith policy.’
Councillor Feeley commented that he felt that Minister Quinn was pushing a Labour Party ideology rather than a well thought educational policy.
‘We want an education system that respects religion, that has high literacy and numerous standards. That can be achieved in our current system if the Minister respects local schools and gives them proper support not constantly undermining their future, not constantly cutting funding, not constantly reducing teacher numbers. It is a disgrace that he constantly attacks them and uses every opportunity to run-down the contribution of the various churches to education in Ireland.’
Concluding Councillor Feeley called on the Fine Gael Party to stand up for small schools and for the role of religion in our primary schools.