Downgrading Religion in Schools

If recent reports in the media are to be believed, and there seems to be no reason why these should not be true, then it would appear that in the first flush of his election victory in South East Dublin and his appointment as Minister for education, it has been alleged that Minister Ruairí Quinn’s first and top priorities would be the removal of the clergy (presumably both Catholic and Protestant) from their managerial positions on the Management Boards, particularly of the National Schools.

There would be no doubt whatsoever that if such a procedure is implemented such a radical break with tradition and long established practice would be of the greatest concern to tens of thousands of parents and grandparents throughout the land. The first question to be asked is “What would be the reason for such a move?” it is no big deal if a Parish Priest is the Honorary Chairman of a School Management Board and unlike Minister’s salaries and chauffer driven cars it is costing the taxpayers nothing. So one would like to find out what Minister Quinn has in mind concerning this proposal. But then again was it not the same Ruairí Quinn who was alleged to have remarked several years ago that at the time we were living in post Catholic Ireland. Seemingly he has not changed his mind. Now this is the Minister who will be in charge of our children’s and our grand children’s education for the next 5 years, presuming, of course, that the Coalition Government will remain in office for its full term.

There have also been suggestions from some quarters, mostly minority pressure groups, that too much time is being spent on religious teaching within our schools. Some of these groupings try to pretend that such a suggestion is in the interest of fair play to children of minority religious groups. That is a myth, does anybody believe that Irish Catholic people living, for instance, in a Muslim country, will receive special treatment for their children’s religious education from the governments of these countries. Even in my own experience in England, those who preferred to send their children to Catholic Schools have to pay for the privilege of doing so.

So while naturally children of whatever origin they may be native or foreign are all entitled to education but certainly not at the expense of downgrading the traditional and long established religious instruction in our schools. Minister Quinn might do well to ponder -will parents be happy about the removal of the clergy from the management of our schools, and if not then what is all this nonsense about?

If there is a minority of parents throughout the country who do not want their children to attend religious instruction classes then they are free to withdraw them and that should be the end of the matter.

Naturally there were times when parents of children did not always agree with the views or decisions of some of the clergy regarding issues that arose concerning the school’s business and this even applied personally to me when an issue arose during the first ever election to the School Management Board in Athea several years ago in the mid-seventies. There are indeed many throughout Athea Parish who can still recollect that particular incident and how the parents of Athea School children elected me as a parent’s representative to the board with a convincing democratic majority in a field of 15 candidates.

Subsequently, afterwards, there were never any hard feelings on my part towards anybody involved and we all got on well together on this first Board of Management for the local school.

One of the suggestions made by me, at a meeting which was adopted, was that the levy on individual parents at the time towards the Annual School contribution should be scrapped and that instead of this imposition, an annual Church door collection be held where the cost of the contribution would be shared by all the people of the parish. Thankfully that type of fund-raising is still being used. My own opinion then was and still is that democracy should never be used to downgrade religion or religious beliefs and teachings. Fine Gael, to be fair to the party, has mostly always had a reputation as a conservative right wing organisation to be tolerant and sympathetic towards religion, so one would hope that they will see to it that Church traditions are not interfered with or set aside by the actions of any minister.

If they do this, then we can start to believe them that what they promised is not just about power, but rather about service and caring for the people, including the Catholic majority.

Tea Party

On this Friday morning March 25th a tea party will be held at O’Riordan’s Pharmacy in conjunction with Daffodil Day, fundraising for the Irish Conquer Cancer campaign. As well as meeting and having a chat with friends and neighbours there will also be tea and some lovely things to eat and enjoy. There will be a Céad Míle Fáilte from Diarmuid, Áine and their pleasant staff, so all are invited to come along and help a worthy cause.

Mare and Foal

While taking a stroll along the local Knocknagorna road on Sunday afternoon it was pleasant to see the unusual sight of a snow-white mare with her jet black foal in a field along the way. It was the contrast in colours that attracted my attention.

Will They Ever Learn?

The senseless bombing of Libya over the weekend by the Americans, British and some of the European Countries makes one wonder if the leaders of these nations have ever learned anything from interference in the internal affairs of other countries and what they might hope to achieve by their stupid intervention other than further slaughter of innocent people and chaos among the people they have decided to bomb and kill on the pretence of going to protect and free people or save them from tyrants.

We have all been aware of the needless slaughter that these war mongers left behind them in Vietnam, Iraq and still in Afghanistan. But it appears that these particular States are always mad for war even though it achieves nothing other than the deaths and slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, men, women and children. Three of the most powerful nations on earth Germany, Russia and China abstained from voting at the United Nations on the matter of intervening in Libya. What a pity they did not vote against it at the start. However the Arab League Organisation, which is no small force by all accounts, have condemned the bombing at the time of writing. Good for them and good for prospects of peace.

At the time that Barack Obama was elected U.S.A.  President a comparatively short time ago he appeared to inspire new hope and prospects of a more peaceful and tolerant world. Now after the bombing and deaths in Libya this dream is again shattered, it is the same old sad story over again of when the Americans needlessly bombed Libya before during the dark days in England of the Thatcher led Government in which she co-operated with the Americans in this act of aggression.

Perhaps the atrocity is not the fault of the new American President. Maybe his hands are tied and that hawks in his administration have again won out. If so, that is surely a pity.

Hopefully all those forces who took part in the weekend bombing and shelling of Libya will turn back from the brink before this develops into another major and prolonged war in which there will be no winners only further deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent people.

All Ireland Talent Show

The final of the All-Ireland Talent Show was really a great display of talent. The singing winner, young 13 year old Daniel Furlong from Wexford was absolutely brilliant, so was the Galway singer Don Stiffe and as for the West Limerick Group “Mad for Road” they were a real joy to listen to and in the fact that they reached the final all Limerick can be very proud of them. The only sad part about this show is that there are not separate competitions for the different categories of talents.