A pilot arrangement involving the possible transfer of the patronage of eight Catholic schools to other directions has been agreed between the Catholic bishops and the Ministry of Education. Pilot areas are in Arklow, Athlone, Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, Limerick and Youghal.
In Nenagh, Co Tipperary, however, the transfer of patronage from a Catholic school to the local education and training board has been agreed.
A spokesperson for the department said the Catholic Bishops’ Council on Education and the bishops concerned “confirmed their willingness to engage and cooperate fully with the department in seeking to facilitate more diverse school patronage in these cities. “.
It was agreed “that work will begin in a number of towns and city districts that do not currently have a multi-faith provision under a pilot arrangement,” the spokesperson said.
The department has been engaged for some time with representatives of the Bishops’ Council on Education on handing over management of Catholic schools to allow parents greater choice away from the current situation where 93% primary schools are under Catholic control.
A school reconfiguration process aims to help achieve the Program‘s commitment to the government to have at least 400 multi-denominational schools by 2030 through the transfer of existing schools from Church management to multi-denominational control in response to the wishes of local families. The process involves the transfer of patronage from active schools.
Representatives of the Catholic bishops have consistently expressed their willingness to engage in this reconfiguration process, also promoted by the department, but it has met with considerable local resistance in some instances.
In 2012, the Forum’s report on patronage and pluralism in the primary sector recommended a significant increase in the diversity of primary school management in Ireland. However, to date, only three such schools in the state have been transferred from Catholic management.
The Spring 2022 General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland is taking place in Maynooth from Monday to Wednesday this week and the issue of divestment will be discussed there. It is also expected to be addressed in the Bishops’ press release following Wednesday evening’s meeting.