Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland

Separate but equal?

Author: Karin Fischer

Separate but equal? Schools and the politics of religion and diversity in the Republic of Ireland focuses on the historical and current place of religion in the Irish education system from the perspective of children’s rights and citizenship. It offers a critical analysis of the political, cultural and social forces that have perpetuated the patronage system, looks at the ways in which the denominational model has been adapted to increased religious and cultural diversity in Irish society and shows that recent changes have failed to address persistent discrimination and the absence of respect for freedom of conscience. It relates current debates on the denominational system and the role of the State in education to Irish political thought and conceptions of national identity in Ireland, showing the ways in which such debates reflect a tension between nationalist-communitarian and republican political outlooks. There have been efforts towards accommodation and against instances of discrimination within the system, but Irish educational structures still privilege communal and private interests and hierarchies over equal rights, either in the name of a de facto ‘majority’ right to religious domination or by virtue of a deeply flawed and limited view of ‘parental choice’.

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