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Social Democrats Introduce Bill to end ‘Baptism Barrier’

The Social Democrats today, Thursday 13th April 2017, publish a Bill to finally end religious discrimination against school children.

The Equal Status (Amendment) Bill 2017 removes the so-called ‘baptism barrier,’ ensuring that all children have fair and equal access to publicly-funded schools, regardless of their faith.

Currently, children can be denied access to their local primary schools solely on the basis of their religion.

This is because Section 7 (3) (c) of the Equal Status Act 2000 allows Catholic and other denominational schools to exclude a child of another religion or none – the so-called ‘baptism barrier’.

The Social Democrats’ Bill ends the baptism barrier by repealing Section 7 (3) c of the Equal Status Act 2000 as it applies to publicly-funded schools.

This means that almost 4,000 primary and post primary schools which receive public funding would no longer be permitted by law to refuse entry to children on religious grounds.

Introducing the Equal Status (Amendment) Bill 2017, Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said: “It is shameful that in Ireland we still allow schools to select children on the basis of religious beliefs. It is anti-child. It is anti-education. It is blatant discrimination.

“The Social Democrats believe that our education system should be designed with the interests of all children at heart – not the interests of religious groups. That is why we are bringing forward this Bill. It would eradicate one of the great discriminations of Irish society. It would prioritise children instead of religion, and it would send a signal that Ireland is finally moving to separate out the activities of the State from those of religious bodies.”

The Social Democrats’ Bill will be introduced in the Dáil as a Private Member’s Bill on Thursday 13th April 2017 by the party’s co-leader Róisín Shortall TD.

You can download the Bill here.