An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Tuesday, August 17, 2004  

Funding of private education in Ireland

In 1966 Donagh O'Malley (uncle to Dessie) created Irish 'free' post-primary education. The state would pay the salaries of teachers, capitation fees for every student and fund the construction of schools. For fee paying schools, it was agreed that they would pay the salaries of those teachers but nothing else except in the case of minority religions (i.e. protestant) who would get the salaries and the grants. So far so reasonably fair. Occasionally and this week by the Labour party, the idea is floated that the government should reduce the money given to fee paying schools and direct the resources into poorer schools. Seems fair. The argument against this and articulated by Noel Dempsey only yesterday, is that if the teachers' salaries were not paid, the fee paying schools would simply become free schools and the government would end up paying the salaries and the grants, thus costing them more money, not less. Possible maybe.

However, one hole in this argument is the issue of the grants paid to the protestant fee paying schools. The truth is that these schools are swamped by the catholic middle classes and the minority religion is in a minority in its own schools - but they still get the money as if they were all 'minority'. I say, pay their salaries, but they should only get capitation grants for the protestant students. This will probably mean catholic parents with children at protestant schools would have to pay higher fees than the protestant parents with children at the same school. Tough. Haven't they enough schools of their own (the catholics that is) both fee paying and non-fee paying.

posted by Sarah | 20:50 1 comments
There are far deeper issues in the funding of Irish education, particularly in the wake of the Portmarnock Golf Club ruling.

As you point out all schools receive state funding. given this is the case, why do we tolerate discrimination on grounds of religion at all? There remain large numbers of schools that will reject a pupil purely on the basis of religion. How is this possible when the state provides funding? It seems to me that the first person to mount a legal challenge to this situation will cause a pretty radical shake-up of the education sector, and about time too.
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