New Legal Opinion ClearsThe Way For Government To Drop Baptism Barrier In State Schools
Today EQUATE, a children’s rights organisation which advocates for a substantial change in how primary and secondary school education is delivered in Ireland, has published new legal advice from three leading constitutional experts on how the State can move immediately to amend legislation to strike down the “baptism barrier” which allows Schools to legally refuse to admit children from different faiths or none.
Speaking today Michael Barron Director of EQUATE said “This new legal advice from three leading constitutional experts’ points to a clear pathway for legislators to reform the Equal Status Act 2000 and in so doing to strike down the unfair baptism barrier. Over ninety per cent of our State schools are under the patronage of the Catholic Church and these schools can legally refuse to admit children from different faiths or none. This baptism barrier where parents of minority or no faith are forced to baptise their child just to gain access to their local schools isn’t fair in a modern, diverse and fair society. It can’t continue.
This legal advice shows that if the political will is there legislators can quickly move to make the necessary changes to the law to allow children of all faiths and none equal access to their local state school. The current imbalance in the protection of religious freedom in the education system is unjust and by reforming section 7(3) (c) of the Equal Status Act 2000 it is possible to right that wrong. I very much hope that the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald T.D. and the Minister for Education Richard Bruton T.D. will work together to amend this legislation in the interests of all children.”