Constitutional experts see no impediment to changing school admission rules

Dr Conor O'Mahony, Dr Eoin Daly and Dr David Kenny
Pictured (l-r): Dr Conor O’Mahony, Dr Eoin Daly and Dr David Kenny

Three constitutional law experts from UCC, NUIG and Trinity College Dublin have written a legal opinion stating that they see no constitutional impediment to changing the laws to allow fair and equal access to State-funded schools regardless of religion.

Just over two weeks ago, Taoiseach Enda Kenny outlined “potentially very significant constitutional” barriers to any change in this area.

Despite the Taoiseach claiming that they had based this information on advice given, a spokesperson confirmed that no legal advice had been received by the government in relation to this issue.

At present, the Equal Status Act allows Catholic children preferential access to the majority of State-funded schools.

Recently a call for this Act to be amended in order to cut discrimination based upon religion was issued by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Mr Kenny warned of “lengthy legal challenges” should the law be amended and said that a referendum may be necessary.

However, the opinions of the three academics, Dr Conor O’Mahony, Dr Eoin Daly and Dr David Kenny, contradicts this and concludes that amending the legislation would be very straightforward.

There is no precedent to base the right of unconditional public funding for denominational schools upon.

The legal opinion was commissioned by Equate Ireland, a charity which campaigns for equal access to schools.

Share icon
Share this article: