Atheist Ireland response to Forum on Patronage and Pluralism

Ensuring Effective Remedies for an Objective, Critical and Pluralistic Secular Education

Atheist Ireland has responded to the interim report of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism. The Forum is to send its final report to the Minister for Education by the end of December.

We have four overriding recommendations for the final report.

* To comply with your terms of reference, your advice must be stronger and must be enforceable. You are mandated to advise on how best to “ensure” that certain outcomes can happen, not simply on how best to make those outcomes more likely.

* The final report must include effective remedies that enable parents and students to vindicate in practice and law their right to ensure that the education of their children is in conformity with their convictions, as enshrined in Human Rights treaties and based on rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

* Whatever their model of patronage, the State must ensure that all schools convey all parts of the curriculum in an “objective, critical and pluralistic manner”, as recommended by the Irish Human Rights Commission, as enshrined in the Toledo Guiding Principles, and as ruled on by the ECHR.

* Ensuring “a sufficiently diverse number and range of primary schools catering for all religions and none” must in practice ensure that secular non-denominational schools are widely available in all regions of the State, as noted by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

We also make other specific recommendations throughout the response, including on ERB, opting out, the right to private and family life and access to schools.

You can read our full response here.

It’s on our campaign website for a secular education, TeachDontPreach.ie.

Michael Nugent