New campaign calls for end to "baptism barrier" in schools

EQUATE are calling for children to be no longer excluded from schools based on their religion

New campaign calls for end to "baptism barrier" in schools

Image: Caoimhseach Connolly

A new campaign has been launched calling for an end to the so-called "baptism barrier" in schools.

The children and family organisation EQUATE is organising the 'Open the School Gate' campaign.

It comes as part of their calls to have legislation changed so children are no longer excluded from schools based on their religion.

Education Minister Richard Bruton announced new education initiatives in June.

However, he also said the new admissions bill will not remove the clause that allows schools to discriminate on the basis of religion.

The policy sometimes means children cannot attend their nearest school because they have not been baptised.

Minister Bruton also announced plans for 400 multi and non-denominational schools by 2030 - however, more than 90% of the State's 3,200 primary schools are currently managed by the Roman Catholic Church.

Michael Barron is the Executive Director of EQUATE, and spoke to Richard Chambers on Newstalk Lunchtime about their new campaign.

He explained that the Government's Education Committee is considering a bill to remove the 'baptism barrier'.

"Essentially the Oireachtas has the power to amend the Equal Status Act, which would effectively end the baptism barrier," he explained.

"The responsibility of this Oireachtas committee is extraordinary. Generations of parents have campaigned for this issue."