Four Muslim families claim that their sons were refused admission to secondary schools run by the Catholic Church in South Dublin due to their religious background. The denominational educational system of the Republic of Ireland, in which most primary and secondary schools – though state-funded – are under the patronage of the Catholic Church, allows for discriminatory admission policies based on religion and for giving preference to pupils of a Catholic background.
While the four families did not encounter any problems in securing places for their daughters in Catholic girls’ secondary schools in the area, their recent applications on behalf their sons at boys’ secondary schools were rejected on the grounds of the limited availability of places. Two families appealed to the decisions at the Department of Education which upheld their appeals.
Furthermore, one family complained about impingements on freedom of religion as its son had to attend Catholic Religious Education classes and participate in religious services held at the school.
The spokesperson of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, Ali Selim, confirmed the rising number of complaints by Muslim parents who experience difficulties in finding places for their children in secondary schools in Dublin. Selim demands immediate action by the Department of Education which needs to provide clear guidelines on admission policies that prevent discrimination against on religious grounds: “All of us are taxpayers and preference should not be on the basis of religion or race. This is not a Muslim issue, it affects all non-Catholics.”