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Quinn: I'm not an aggressive secularist

The Minister for Education launched a public consultation on inclusiveness in primary schools today.

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION Ruairí Quinn has launched a public consultation on inclusiveness in primary schools.

The process is part of the minister’s plan in response to the report of the advisory group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the primary sector.

The group made a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring schools, particularly in areas where there is only a choice of one, are as inclusive as possible and accommodate various belief systems and traditions.

The recommendations cover areas such as having equitable enrollment policies; dealing effectively with the Constitutional right to opt out of religious instruction; having school policies on the conduct of religious and cultural celebrations in schools as well as having Boards of Management of denominational schools reflect the diversity of the local community.

Now the department is asking parents how they think the education system could be improved to make it more inclusive.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk today, Quinn said this is not about blaming the Catholic Church, “it is an attempt to recognise that Ireland has changed”.

He said there should be guidelines on how schools should be “sensitive to all of the people that come into them”.

Quinn denied that there is a secular agenda in his plans for reform, saying that he has been accused of being “an aggressive secularist”.

“I’m not, I’m on the record in both the Dáil and elsewhere as saying that we have to respect pluralism,” he said.

The deadline for receipt of submissions in the consultation process is 22 November.

Read: Primary schools in 23 towns to change patronage following survey>

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