- 03 Apr 19
Letters sent to parents in three Dublin primary schools, warning that a move away from a Catholic ethos would have serious consequences, have been criticised by Educate Together, among others.
Letters sent to the parents of pupils at Catholic primary schools in Dublin have sparked nationwide controversy. The letters, which have emerged at three schools, imply that a move away from Catholic patronage would have a series of negative consequences, including a ban on Christmas celebrations and a compromise of the pupils' "safety on tours".
In line with the Department of Education's efforts to provide a greater diversity of patronage in schools, plans are in place to change the patronage of one of eight Catholic primary schools in the Portmarnock-Malahide-Kinsealy area of Dublin.
One of these eight schools, Scoil an Duinnínigh, sent a letter to the parents of its pupils, arguing that a move away from a Catholic ethos would "have a major effect on the spirit, the management, the culture and language" of the school.
Scoil an Duinnínigh went on to state that Christmas, St. Brigid's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter would not be celebrated in the school if the change of patronage was to go ahead. They also argued that common Irish expressions, like dia duit, "may no longer be permitted".
Similarly, parents of children at St Sylvester's in Malahide were sent a leaflet that claimed "no more uniforms" could compromise the pupils' "safety on tours", as well as lead to "arguments in the morning". The leaflet also warned that the "standard of education may drop" and there would be no more "grandparent assemblies".
In a statement shared on their website, Educate Together responded to the controversy:
"Christmas is, of course, marked in Educate Together schools nationwide; just as our schools endeavour mark Diwali, Eid, Vaisakhi and other religious festivals throughout the school term."
In another statement, published today, Educate Together called the assertions "grossly misleading and categorically untrue".
"There is an element here of Fake News,” Hot Press editor Niall Stokes said. “Clearly, no one is going to be prevented from 'celebrating Christmas’. Nor, indeed, are young children going to be told that there is no Santa Claus. The ethos of Educate Together schools is to respect everyone’s beliefs equally. But it suits the agenda of those wanting to force Catholic domination of our schools down everyone’s throat to create the impression that these things, which people take for granted, might be negatively affected, when this is clearly not the case. The fact is that those opposed to Repealing the 8th Amendment tried the same tactics. The hope is that this kind of attempted emotional blackmail will be brushed off as effectively as were the lies about the effects of abortion and other propaganda disseminated by the old school in the referendum campaign."