Church Suffers Fresh Blow As Dáil Votes To Remove Baptism Barrier

95% of schools to be affected by baptism barrier's removal as Bruton makes good on pledge to tackle religious discrimination in public education.

Richard Bruton Minister for Education

Legislation to remove the controversial ‘baptism barrier’ has been passed by The Dail following a late night debate. The legislation will now proceed to the Seanad where it is expected to encounter little opposition.

In a further blow to The Catholic Church’s dominion over Irish society, the Dail accepted the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill which outlaws the baptism barrier which gave the church’s ability to insist a child be baptised before they can be admitted into Catholic primary schools.

Commenting soon after the vote on Twitter Minister for Education Richard Bruton said, “The Dáil has tonight passed the School Admissions Bill, including my amendment to remove the role that religion plays in school admissions in virtually all primary schools. The legislation will have a historic impact on how children access their local school.”

Bruton had criticised the barrier prior to voting saying, “It is not fair that parents, who might otherwise not do so, should feel pressure to baptize their children in order to gain admission to their local school. That is why I am proposing to remove the role that religion plays in school admissions in virtually all primary schools.”

Supporters of the barrier argued that banning religion as a selection criterion in admissions policy would breach their constitutional rights and have vowed to challenge the legislation.

Speaking to The Irish Times in January in anticipation of the measure being introduced, The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association condemned Mr Bruton’s plan and said it was part of a “secularisation agenda aimed mainly at the Catholic Church”.

“We note that such a process may also open the State to a multiplicity of civil suits by those parents who wish to retain a Catholic faith ethos of their children…If the substance of the proposal is to effectively preclude parents in violation of their conscience from sending a child to a school of their choice, it would be very difficult to uphold the constitutionality of such a legislative choice.”

The Move will be welcomed by many parents who for many years have found themselves baptising their children for no other reason other than to secure a placement in a Catholic-run school.

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