Written Answers. - Multi-Denominational Schools.

Jack Wall

Question:

31 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the report funded by his Department and commissioned by An Foras Patrúnacha which recommended the establishment of a convention on inter-denominational education; the steps he intends to take to ensure that the sort of difficulties that led to the dismissal of the principal of Gaelscoil Thulach na nÓg do not recur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21742/02]

My Department has recently received a copy of the interim report on the facilitation process, which my Department supported and funded, with regard to Gaelscoil Thulach na nÓg. The recommendations in the report are being considered in my Department at present.

I can confirm that the report contains a recommendation that a convention on interdenominational education be convened by An Foras Pátrúnachta. However, the report also recommends that a preliminary step is required in relation to ascertaining the role of the churches to both the ideal and the implementation of an interdenominational ethos before the establishment of any convention.

In the event that An Foras decides to organise a convention as recommended in the interim report, my Department would be happy to support this process.

The disciplinary proceedings which arose in Gaelscoil Thulach na nÓg are employeremployee matters which are entirely for resolution between the board of management, the principal teacher and the patron body. They are not matters in which either the Minister or the Department can interfere.
Primary schools are private institutions under independent management. The board of management is the body charged with the direct governance of the school and is the employer of the teachers in the school, including the principal teacher. The board is entitled to take disciplinary proceedings against a teacher if they consider that his or her conduct is or has been in some way unacceptable. Procedures are in place at local level for dealing with such matters and these procedures do not provide for the involvement of the Minister or the Department. In addition, an employee has recourse to employment law to ensure due process.
The difficulties that have arisen in this school in relation to the teaching of religion are being addressed through the facilitation process. The interim report contains recommendations in this regard. Should An Foras decide to implement these or any other recommendations, my Department would be prepared to co-operate and support as appropriate.