Ireland has enough Catholic schools and doesn’t need more, the head of Ireland’s largest teaching union has said. Mr John Boyle, president of the INTO, later said he was referring only to Catholic primary schools.
Mr Boyle also said that despite what the Archbishop of Dublin has said about divestment he doesn’t believe a large number of Catholic schools should be closed. “I don’t see the need to close denominational schools,” he said.
Speaking as part of a discussion panel on Catholic education held on Monday in Notre Dame – Newman Centre for Faith and Reason at University Church in Dublin, Mr Boyle said he hoped that the Catholic school sector would become more inclusive and look after children living nearer the school, no matter what their denomination.
The CEO of the second-level schools trust CEIST, Dr Marie Griffin, said that there is a negative media agenda around faith schools, but that parents want a Catholic education and there is evidence for this, with parents choosing Catholic schools where there is a choice.
She added: “Twenty one years after Ruairi Quinn declared this a post-religious secular society, the Census shows we are a predominantly Catholic country. So we should be confident about our schools.”
Dr Griffin revealed that there are no Catholic second level schools in Co. Leitrim and some parts of Cork and “we need to retain our schools or diversity will suffer”.
Other contributors included Dr Anne Looney, Executive Dean of DCU’s Institute of Education, and Seamus Mulconry, General Secretary of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association. The panel was chaired by Deacon Dermot McCarthy.