IHREC raises concerns about school admissions bill

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has called on the Irish government to use an upcoming bill to challenge religious discrimination in school admissions.

The Commission said the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2015 should amend the Equal Status Acts in order to give effect to the principle that no child should be given preferential access to a publicly funded school on the basis of their religion.

It has also said the Irish government has an obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights to “ensure that those attending publicly funded schools who do not wish to attend religious instruction are accommodated appropriately”.

It has raised concerns that the religious exemption clause in the Equal Status Acts, reproduced in the 2015 Bill, could place children of non-Irish or new migrant communities at a disadvantage when compared with children of Irish parents, in “potential violation” of the EU Race Equality Directive.

The Commission used its legal powers to report its observations on the draft bill’s implications for human rights and equality.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan is expected to present the bill to the Oireachtas within the coming weeks.

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