Education Minister: Catholic Church 'recognises need' to hand over patronage of schools

Richard Bruton says Government wants to ensure they have support at local level before transferring patronage

Education Minister: Catholic Church 'recognises need' to hand over patronage of schools

Richard Bruton. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Catholic Church recognises the need to hand over schools to the State, according to the Education Minister.

Education Minister Richard Bruton says he's not expecting any backlash from bishops if they're asked to give up their patronage of primaries.

Currently, around 90% of Ireland's primary schools are of a Catholic ethos.

New surveys are being filled out by parents to see where there is demand for a change to the religious ethos.

Parents of pre-school children in 16 areas are currently being surveyed.

Future plans will be based on the results of the study.

However, Minister Bruton warns they need to make sure that a change of ownership is actually what communities want.

Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show, Minister Bruton observed: "Virtually all schools in Ireland welcome people of all faiths and of none, and do their very best to accommodate all of those children. But the reality is that 95% of primary schools are denominational, and I think everyone has recognise we need to see the transfer of patronage to others - and that includes the Catholic Church.

"Of course, there can be difficulties at local level - and that's why we're having a 'bottom up' process, where we hope to get the buy-in at the local community level as the first requirement."

The Government has previously pledged to have 400 multi-denominational and non-denominational schools by 2030.