#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 8°C Monday 1 March 2021
Advertisement

WRC finds Dublin school discriminated against Catholic girl by favouring Church of Ireland students

The school denied discrimination and said there is no non fee-paying Church of Ireland school in the area.

Image: Shutterstock

A MULTI-DENOMINATIONAL secondary school discriminated against a Catholic school girl on religious grounds by favouring for admission Church of Ireland students from a local primary school.

That is the the finding of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) which has now ordered the Dublin community school to admit the girl to 2nd year for the start of the next school year next September.

WRC Adjudication Officer, Brian Dalton has also ordered that the community school cease to give pupils of Church of Ireland faith attending the nearby National School priority when it comes to enrolment in First Year.

Dalton has also ordered that the community school amend its admission’s policy to ensure that the prohibited conduct under the Equal Status Act ends.

In his ruling, Dalton has also ordered that the girl be admitted to the secondary school for the next school year after taking into account the recommendation of her doctor and the mental distress and anxiety she has suffered arising from her unsuccessful school application.

‘Difficult to reconcile’

The school contended that it complies with the Equal Status Act and that it does not favour any one religious faith or none over one another when deciding who it admits into first year.

However, Dalton found that it is difficult to reconcile how giving preference to Church of Ireland students is consistent with that stated objective while at the same time admitting that it does give preference to a particular religious denomination.

The community school – established in 1995 – has capacity for 200 1st years each year and receives around 400 applications.

On 27 September 2019, the girl was told by letter that her application for school entry was unsuccessful.

The letter told her that arising from the school’s enrolment policy, pupils of Church of Ireland faith attending a nearby National School “have priority when it comes to enrolment in First Year”.

‘Distressed’

An internal appeal lodged on behalf of the girl stated that she “was deeply distressed as she lives close to the school and all her close friends were accepted into the school who also attended the same National School”.

The appeal was unsuccessful and the discrimination case was lodged with the WRC in March 2020.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The girl was represented at the hearing by her father and an uncle who is a solicitor.

The school denied discrimination and stated that it serves generally Catholic populations with suitable arrangements being made for members of other religions in consultation with appropriate authorities.

The rationale for giving Church of Ireland students from the nearby national school priority is provided in the school’s admission policy.

It states: “There is no non fee-paying Church of Ireland School in [the area]. Consequently when the college was established, it was designated as a listed post-primary school for Church of Ireland children in order to protect the rights of this minority, thus ensuring that a significant number of this community could be educated together.”

The school’s board of management also includes a member of the Church of Ireland faith.

The school stated that the priority given to the Church of Ireland students was comprehensively reviewed and approved by the Board in January 2018 based on a consultation process held with key stakeholders in the community.

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

Read next:

COMMENTS