Event Details

Freedom of Religion and Schools: the Case of Ireland: A failure to protect international human rights standards

Author: Alison Mawhinney
Isbn: 9783639141023
Pages: 232
Publisher: VDM Verlag
Publication Place: n\a
Published/Year: 2009
Category: n\a


This is the first major study to examine the primary education system in Ireland in terms of international human rights standards and obligations. In Ireland 98% of schools are run by religious bodies. There is no parallel system of state-run schools. Situations can thus arise where individuals are denied the right to freedom of religion. This is particularly so as the Irish population becomes increasingly diverse in terms of ethnic origin and religious beliefs. Through interviews with parents and teachers, the book draws upon their experience in order to examine three crucial issues. These are the teaching of religion in schools, admission policies and the employment of teachers. The picture that emerges suggests that the Irish State has failed to adequately discharge its international obligations to protect freedom of religion within its education system. The book makes a distinctive and valuable contribution to the fields of human rights, religious liberty, education and Irish studies.

Table of contents

Acknowledgment. List of tables. List of abbreviations. Introduction. 
1 Primary education in Ireland
1.1. History Background to a public system of education. The National School System 1831: Objections and modifications. Education and religion after independence.
1.2 Domestic regulatory framework. The Education Act 1998. The Constitution of Ireland. Equality legislation.
1.3 Structure of school system. Ownership. Statutory body management. Internal school management. Funding. 
1.4 The changing social and demographic context. 
2 Human rights and religion in school life.
2.1 The teaching of doctrinal religion. International standards. Domestic law and practice. Religious education classes. Preparation for religious sacraments. The existence of opt-outs. Parental wishes and opt-out. Discussion.
2.2 Integration of religion into secular lessons and school life. International standards. Domestic law and practice. Integration of religion with secular subject. Integration of religion throughout the school day. The nature of the integrated curriculum. Indoctrination and the integrated curriculum. Discussion. Conclusion. 
3. Discrimination in pupil admissions.
3.1. Discrimination in international human rights law.
3.2. Admission policies to schools. International standards. Domestic law and practice. Discussion. The existence of a legitimate aim. The question of proportionate measures. Conclusion.
4. Discrimination and teacher employment.
4.1. Employment policies in schools. International standards. Domestic law and practice. Appointment and promotion. Dismissal. Obligation to teach religion. Discussion. The existence of a legitimate aim. The question of proportionate measures. Conclusion.
5. Summary and conclusions. 

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