Alan Hynes: ‘Catholic patrons have committed to change in school patronage diversity’

9 May, 2023 | Church, News

Alan Hynes (pictured above during a recent interview with broadcaster and psychotherapist Richard Sadlier), Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Education Partnership, has written a letter to the Editor of The Irish Times in response to a recent opinion article by David Graham entitled ‘Religious evangelism soaks into every pore of the Irish school curriculum’.

Mr Hynes said, “The Catholic patrons have committed to change in school patronage diversity at primary level, recognising the needs of our more pluralistic society, and in line with the Catholic duty to serve the common good. Our society’s pluralism ought to be respected and supported through sufficient choice of school ethos types, believing that the State, in line with the Constitution of Ireland, and in sympathy with international human rights conventions, ought to engage and support parental rights with respect to the preferred ethos of their child’s school, be those religious or philosophical, in so far as this is practicable.”

He continued, “To that end, the church and the Department of Education have engaged with a pilot process of reconfiguration. This process is near conclusion. To her credit, the Minster for Education Norma Foley is of similar mind to the patrons in her wish that the process be one of engagement and consensus-building with communities, rather than the imposition of a blunt legislative solution.”

In conclusion, Mr Hynes said, “The results of that process will be reflected on, informing the next stage of negotiating increased school patronage diversity. It will reflect on the reasons expressed by majorities in most areas for supporting the existing Catholic patronage (a not-insignificant part of which came from parents of other minority faith traditions), as well as the sources of reluctance to change. It is interesting that the one change Mr Graham boasts of, the Admission to Schools Act 2018, by which Catholic schools alone are forbidden to prioritise the enrolment of children of our faith to, is now one of the significant blocks to reconfiguration.”

To read this letter in full, published in The Irish Times on Friday 5 May last, click here.



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