"Instead of starting school last month, Reuben Murphy found himself back in his Dublin nursery for another year as his mother, Nikki, re-embarked on her quest to find a place at a local state primary for her four-year-old son.
She has already applied to 15 schools. But, following rejections from nine last year, Murphy is far from confident that a place will be found for Reuben. In a country where more than 90% of state schools are run by the Catholic church, unbaptised children like him are at the bottom of their admissions lists.
“I’m desperate,” said Murphy. “I’ve met tons of parents who’ve baptised their children just to get a school place. We thought about it, but it goes against our conscience. I feel it would be an abuse of other people’s deeply held religious beliefs.”
A drive to repeal the legislation that allows Irish schools to operate admissions criteria based on faith is gathering momentum. More than 14,000 people have backed a petition to be presented to parliament in the next couple of weeks, and campaigners are determined to raise the issue of unbaptised children in next year’s general election."
This is an absolute disgrace. I hope the campaigners are successful.
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I live in Northern Ireland and our schools admit children based on criteria like distance from home and need, not on whether they're baptized or not. Seems like a more rational policy, right? Until you realize that there is a deep segregation in the school system. Northern Ireland is still a bipartisan sociopolitical and religious culture, with Catholic Republicans and Protestant Loyalists making up the two "sides" of the "division", as it's known. Catholics can't go to "Protestant Schools" and Protestants can't go to "Catholic schools". This is made worse by the fact that even if you are not religious in my country, you are branded with a religious label, regardless. That religious label depends on what religion your parents were or what area your from (because geographical segregation also still exists). So, if you're from a "Catholic area" you're usually deemed a Catholic etc.
Abortion is also still illegal in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and gay marriage is still illegal in Northern Ireland.
Pretty backwards, really. I might write a blog about it.
NI obviously has major problems, of which the school system is one symptom. I wonder whether there will ever be a solution. Certainly the power-sharing thing is just a sticking plaster.
I think most other countries in Europe are secular, so that people go to state schoosl without regard to their religion, real or perceived. The UK is slightly different because of state-funded faith schools, which should be phased out imho. I would like to see all religious schools banned, whether state or private.
Hitchens: Well, are you a protestant jewish Atheist or a Catholic jewish Atheist?