Kilkenny Fine Gael Senator Pat O’Neill has warned that blunt cuts to fee-paying schools would disproportionately hit members of the Protestant faith in Ireland. “The State currently pays the salaries of teachers in fee-paying schools – as it does in every other school. However, fee-paying schools do not receive capitation grants but use the money from fees to pay for all the other needs of the school.
“This year, a report by Pricewaterhouse-Cooper, showed that the State saves €91m per annum by not paying capitation grants to fee-paying schools. Many fee-paying schools have a Church of Ireland, or minority religious ethos, and therefore, blunt cuts to funding for fee-paying schools would disproportionately hit members of minority religions.
“Many parents make sacrifices to send their children to fee paying schools because their faith is important to them and they, quite reasonably, want their children to be educated in schools that share their religious ethos. In these schools, the issue is one of religious ethos, not elitism. Kilkenny College is a wonderful example of a school which adheres to a Church of Ireland ethos but welcomes those of other faiths.
“At the foundation of the State, the Government assumed a duty of care to minority religious groups in Ireland. During the history of the State, successive governments have honoured these commitments. These factors must be taken into account at this time. Difficult decisions, of course, must be made. But they must be the right decisions taken following a full analysis of the effects cuts will have on different groups,” he said. He finished by saying it was important that the State continues to facilitate educational provision for religious minorities.
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