Catholic symbols to be removed from Irish State schools to 'cater for children of all religions'

Catholic symbols to be removed from Irish State schools to 'cater for children of all religions'

CATHOLIC symbols are to phased out of Irish State schools in order to "cater for children of all religions".

This includes Catholic influences such as mandatory masses and visits from diocesan inspectors.

The new rules will apply to more than 200 secondary schools run by the State's Education and Training Boards (ETBs) which are officially categorised as multi-denominational.

State curriculum dictates that schools do not offer religious instruction or faith formation for a particular religion during the school day, but instead offer religious education in which students learn about a range of different religions and beliefs.

There are worries that Catholic schools are offering Catholic-only religious education and that children of other religions are being excluded.

An unpublished document on the core values of these schools hinted that normalising exclusively Catholic teachings was wrong," according to the Irish Times.

A "framework" is to be put in place in order to outline steps schools should follow to bring them into line with a multi-denominational ethos, and to recognise the religious identities of all students in ETB schools.

This framework states that any religious symbols on display in the school must reflect the religious beliefs of the wider school community, rather than one particular belief system.

It also means schools with religious celebrations and symbolism must ensure balance. For example, if schools display a manger scene for Christmas, they should also display Islamic symbols for Eid.

Religious celebrations are to operate on an opt-in basis moving forward, rather than requiring students to opt-out.

General secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland, Paddy Lavelle, said the framework aims to address the "multi-denominational aspect of our schools specifically and the importance of catering for children of all religious and non-religious world views equally".