Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.33 14 Sep 2020


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A number of Catholic primary schools in the Dublin area are to remove priority enrolment for siblings of existing pupils.

A priest in the county says it's important that all local families and students have access to schools in the area, and therefore schools need to be open to 'first come, first served' policies.

It follows reports the Archdiocese of Dublin had asked schools to end the practice of giving priority places to the brothers and sisters of children already in the school.

The Irish Times reported that the patron body had asked all primary schools in the area to update their admission policies, so equal priority is given to all children in the local catchment area.

The Archdiocese says their policy hasn't changed for many years - and that children of the area and siblings are both considered to be in 'category one' for admission.

However, a spokesperson said a small number of schools are now 'updating their policies' to reflect the Archdiocese's rules.

Father John Gilligan, parish priest for Saggart, Rathcoole, Brittas and Newcastle, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about why some schools now have to consider a 'first come, first serve' approach.

He said: "We're trying to have equality for all people and all students that are coming in... for all parents to have access to local schools.

"In the area I'm in, we have eight schools. There's a huge demand and overcapacity, and there's a waiting list every year.

"The tradition in the past was we looked after our own - we had siblings coming together in the same school.

"Now we have so many new Irish coming in and so many people looking for schools... there's equality and rights for all to have the same opportunity."

Fr Gilligan stressed that a 'first come, first served' policy only comes into effect for schools that are oversubscribed.

He said: "For most schools, this won't apply: once the numbers are within the range, there's no problem.

"The solution is for the Government to come up with places for students: more schools need to be built. We need to change Government policy in education, especially in these growing and developing places.

"But again we have to look at equality [and] that we don't discriminate against other people."

He also noted that admissions 'don't come down to religion' anymore following the removal of the traditional 'baptism barrier', with schools instead looking at where potential students are living and how close they are to the school.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Danny Lawson/PA Archive/PA Images

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