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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Family Law

Court decides child in foster care can go to Church of Ireland school against wishes of Catholic parents

The child’s parents did not consent to her attendance at the school.

A JUDGE IN the District Court has ruled that a child who is in foster care may attend a Church of Ireland school despite the Catholic parents of the child not consenting to her attendance at the school.

The Child and Family Agency (CFA) had sought a section 47 application in relation to the child which sought to make a direction that she could attend the school.

The case is one of 47 that is in included in the latest volume of the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).

The foster parents’ own children attended this school and a CFA social worker told the court that if the child attended a different school she would not feel as integrated into the foster family. 

A solicitor for the child’s father asked the social worker whether the issue of religion should have been addressed earlier, to which the social worker replied that “the subject hasn’t come up until now”.

The guardian of the child told the court the child’s mother had no issue regarding religion when she discussed the matter.

The guardian also said that she had spoken to the child’s psychologist and he had been clear that her attending the local Church of Ireland school was necessary for her integration into the foster family unit.

The school also confirmed it would facilitate the child’s Catholic religious instruction with a local Catholic school for her first Holy Communion. 

As a result, the judge granted the order saying there was a commitment given for the child to attend Mass and to offer Catholic religious education.

“The problem is the question of religion. It has bedevilled this country for many a long year,” the judge stated. 


In another case, a girl did not wish to be in secure care, though her guardian supported the application as in her best interests.

She sought and obtained the right to be a party to the proceedings herself, her own solicitor and counsel were appointed for her and she viewed the proceedings via video-link from her special care unit.

She appealed the secure care order to the Court of Appeal, but the Court of Appeal upheld the secure care order as in her best interests.

The full volume of the latest report of the Child Care Law Reporting Project is available on its website.

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