Europe

'Baptism barrier': Schools can't discriminate on faith

Class room
Image caption The 'baptism barrier' meant schools could refuse admission based on religion

Schools in the Republic of Ireland will no longer be able to refuse admission based on religion.

Speaking on RTÉ, the Irish education minister said Catholic primary schools will not be able to discriminate.

Richard Bruton said it was unfair parents felt they had to baptise children to get a school place.

However, minority faiths - like the Church of Ireland - may continue to do so, to protect their ethos if they are over-subscribed.

Image caption In 2015 Nikki Murphy applied to 15 schools for a place for her son

Special terms

Mr Bruton said there will always be over-subscribed schools and new schools are being built continually.

He said minority religious schools would quickly cease to be religious schools if they were not allowed some special terms.

He said that was not the case for Catholic schools because 90% of schools are Catholic.

Image caption Speaking in 2015, Paddy Monahan said the current rules were unconstitutional

New legislation needed

The move will require a change to the Equal Status Act, which permits schools to discriminate on the basis of religion.

Mr Bruton said he planned to do this "without delay", but did not provide a timetable.

It is understood that while Mr Bruton has obtained preliminary legal advice on the move, any new legislation will need to be examined by the attorney general.

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