Cavan parents 'forced' to send children to Catholic schools - TD

A TD claims parents in Cavan are being “forced” to send their children to Catholic schools because of a lack of diversity in the local primary education sector.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shorthall told the Dáil there is little work underway to support a commitment in the Programme for Government that there would be 400 multi-denominational schools by 2030.

“Where is the strategy and the funding to support this commitment?”, she asked Education Minister Norma Foley.

“People are being forced to send children to Catholic schools because of the lack of choice. We know there is huge demand for multi-denominational schools and the Government has failed to get close to meeting this demand”, she claimed.

Six counties - Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon and Tipperary - have no non-denominational primary schools.

Deputy Shorthall criticised what she described as the historical “outsourcing” of public services, including education and health services.

“From the foundation of the State, public services were outsourced, predominantly to the Catholic Church. It was allowed to control the delivery of education, health and social services. This, of course, gave it a monopoly on social teachings and sexual morality.”

She was speaking during a Dáil debate on a bill put forward by her party colleague Gary Gannon.

It would set down in law that any school that receives State funding would be required to teach the “same fact-based health, relationship and sex education regardless of their school's ethos”.

Education Minister Norma Foley said the Government would not be opposing the private member’s bill but would be putting forward an amendment to allow work already underway by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to be completed.

The amendment would postpone discussion on the bill for nine months.