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Quinn: I've been caricatured as enemy of the Catholic Church

The education minister said the debate around school patronage had become distorted.

Ruairí Quinn pictured at a school in Dublin earlier this year
Ruairí Quinn pictured at a school in Dublin earlier this year
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

EDUCATION MINISTER RUAIRÍ Quinn has said he believes he has been caricatured as an enemy of the Catholic Church.

Quinn said the debate around changes to school patronage, which he has been pushing for since coming into Cabinet last spring, had become distorted.

But he said it was essential that changes were made to the system, and rejected suggestions that the patron of a school was a largely symbolic role.

“The power the patron has is very extensive, in terms of appointing the principal of the school,” he said. “Appointment of staff is also a function of the patron.”

Quinn told Claire Byrne on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane show that new changes would reduce the power of the role. “We’re amending the act to ensure that function can’t be used in a discriminatory way,” he said.

The minister said he was “not the enemy of any church”, but added: “I think I’ve been caricatured in that position.”

Under a revised system of school patronage, he said, he envisaged Catholic schools able to be “openly celebratory about their own religion” – but in an environment in which parents would have a free choice between denominational and non-denominational schools.

More: Quinn insists religious orders must meet remaining €470 million abuse bill>

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Michael Freeman

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