17 June 2009

A surrender in Dublin?

So the good* Archbishop Martin has admitted that the current position where the Catholic Church controls 92% of the schools in the country "is no longer tenable".

As reported in the Irish Times today, he seems to have accepted that the Church is going to have to let go of its control some of the schools it controls.

Labour's Ruairi Quinn, for one, professes himself happy with the admission. Most of us secularists are ready to congratulate the good* prelate. Another, very different, Quinn (I am of course referring to David) has long been an advocate of a strategic retreat by the Irish Church in education. Even most of the foaming at the mouth catholic integralists at politics.ie (not that they represent anyone) seem to accept that some clawback seems necessary. All in all, one could be forgiven for thinking that peace has broken out.

I'm doubtful, though. The clue as to why is in how the good* Archbishop expresses himself: he reckons Catholic control of 92% of schools in the republic where only 87% of the people are catholic is untenable.

Now there are a couple of observations that can be made about that statement:

The first is that he's using census figures for his percentage of catholics (which are badly skewed, out of date and irrelevant anyway);

The second is that he'd have got closer to the scale of the problem presenting itself to the Irish education system if his sentence had read that Catholic control of 92% of schools is untenable in a state more than 50% of the people would prefer them not to.

In March last year, David Quinn's own Iona Institute published the least embarrassing bits of a Red C Poll they had recently commissioned. I've commented on it before, but suffice it to say that its figures (at least those that David and his friends have chosen not to keep under wraps) have 48% of respondents preferring something either non or multidenominational education for their children! And you can easily imagine what effect the publication of the Ryan Report has had on such figures since the survey was made.

Martin's contrast of 92% as against 87% makes it look like all that needs to be done is that say a BNS in Booterstown and a GNS in Mulhuddart need to be handed over to new patrons and religious harmony will once more bloom in Dublin.

All the relevant figures tell us, however, that currently more like half of catholic schools will need to be handed over before anything like a supply and demand balance is achieved. Whether the Church has the stomach to deal with such a huge loss of control is very doubtful.

Even assuming the Church can swallow losing 240 odd national schools in Dublin, which is very conservatively what demand would seem to indicate is required at primary level (never mind secondary level), there is another factor in the mix. The church's neo-cons have long been opposed to the 'catholic lite' way schools have been run over the last few years (an approach exemplified by the Alive-O programme of religious education), at least partially to prevent a flight of parents from church run schools.

One of the conservative's main motivations for supporting a radical withdrawal of the Church from education is the prospect of being in a better position to concentrate orthodox catholic teaching in their remaining schools, thus ending the 'catholic lite' philosophy. I can only speculate, but if half of nominal catholics don't want catholic lite education for the kids, how many fewer will want the real, unsweetened deal?

Now it may be that the good* Dr. Martin is just flying a kite, or that he feels he's saying something far less radical than Ruairi Quinn (and people like me) are reading into his words, and it may even be that in the end there'll be a roll back and attempt at reconsolidation by the church once a couple of Dublin schools now in the hands of the church have been safely handed over to Educate Together. But assuming the good* Archbishop is serious in his intent, and assuming he has the authority to convert words into action, how far can he and his church stomach going? And could other dioceses follow Dublin's lead?

It needs to be remembered that the reports on Dublin and Cloyne abuse and cover-up are looming, that further scandals will surely emerge and that hopefully there will be a number of prosecutions of abusers and (even more hopefully) some of their prominent protectors in the pages of our newspapers in the nearish future. In the light of all this, one wonders what the level of demand for catholic education will there be at the end of this decade, and what arrangements can be made between school owners and patrons to square this with the extraordinary oversupply of same, especially as compared to the appalling undersupply of other models.

In the Indo article linked above, David Quinn picked what I assume was doomsday figure of having to give up 70% of Irish schools to be left with a truly catholic 30%. It may turn out that the figures he picked will look optimistic (from the church's point of view) in ten years time.

In short, there may yet be an educational revolution underway in Ireland.

I certainly hope so.

*There's no sarcasm in the use of the word 'good'. The man's very, very good. Outside of their vast acreages in Irish suburbia, he's by far the best asset the catholic church have at the moment in Ireland.


Anonymous said...

Get off p.ie kraut mouth- it's for the Irish

Oprah Winfrey said...

"vast acreages in Irish suburbia"


Das Fartbot 3000 said...

Why are you so aggressive....you need to chill out, take a walk maybe, go to your local cinema...aggression is not good for the old heart, so you have to be careful

"great blog" regardless- you should be writing for the Berlin Times! keep up the "good work"

Hans said...

Eine blödsinnige Kleinigkeit das Internet-Tagebuch. Dich lutschen- schonen das Getränk

Das Fartbot 3000 said...

Oprah Winfrey and anonymous leave AS's blog alone- he's just struggling to contain anger-related issues. Don't mind them AS, keep up the 'good' work- 'love' your blog.

Noses to spite faces said...


How am I a snob to mention the vast acreages of Irish suburbia that the catholic church own.

I'm talking about land, not people.



Noses to spite faces said...

Das Fartbot 3000. Seems you have your own issues. The "aggressive secularist" title is a gentle leg put at the expense of an Irish ex-taoiseach (prime minister) -- read the right-hand bar for an explanation.

I love life and only get grumpy occasionally. I tend to get over it quickly.

Dunno what to make of the rest of your post.

Noses to spite faces said...

To anonymous,

Yes dear, I'm Irish. I just live in Germany.

Hein Von Fartbot said...

"Das Fartbot 3000. Seems you have your own issues."

Chill out, Das Fartbot just wants to help you- no need to be so hormonal about it.

"I love life and only get grumpy occasionally"

Are you grumpy with god for making you a secularist?...does not compute...error......error....

Dr. Smith said...

What are your positions on the existential crisis in regards to religious platitudes on misdemonors in relation to intellectually based philosophies in relation to the relationship between subject matters on the territorial plain, and that of a spirtual plain, or perhaps other in an intellecually comphrensive, and perhaps secularist position on the ecclesiastical aura within society as a whole- and on ways in which we expunge thus from thus.

Noses to spite faces said...

Dr Smith,

if you're lampooning my writing style, thanks for the reminder.

I am, however, aware of this issue, and will try to do better in future, for your reading pleasure!

Your blogging servant,


Fr.Murphy said...

You one of dem atheists?

Anonymous said...

What is your view on abortion?

Anonymous said...

Just came across your gay little blog today- so what's it supposed to be, an upstart media production outlet?
Yeah from reading your other articles you talk so much b*llshit about the catholic church, that it truly gets tiring, and predictable. You also do not provide a good enough social alterative or system of society over that of a Christian one- what gives, you just seem to be into having stabs at the church, but lazily make little or no effort to provide a proper, or potential alternative. Seriously you need to do a little something with this blog of yours- my 2 two year old could write a more in-detail account of Irish religiosity and social systems. Out of curiosity, your not setting this up to have a stab at your home country are you for your German friends? Answer me that- but answer the other questions first, and prove that your not an amateur. Thanks, yours non-German Irishman

The Knitter said...

“A State which simply delegated a wide part of its social responsibilities to a church had gotten it wrong. A State which takes over the entire package is on equally dodgy ground.” Dearest Diarmuid said last night (19 July 2009)

I think Diarmuid wants to settle for half.

Irish Times Link: http://tinyurl.com/mol4ms

Andrew said...

With the publication of the Dublin Diocese Report, which outed Diarmuid's 'celibate' organisation as complicit in the cover up of CLERGY SEXUAL TERRORISM, I think now is the time for the law to seize the assets of this organisation.

truthisfree said...

I really hope something comes out of this report, still can't for the life of me understand how people still support the Catholic Church!

Anonymous said...

What's going on with your posts in this thread?


Just wondering why you've replaced all of them with random jibberish.

PS, I really enjoy your posts here.


(Tried sending this to you as a PM on P.ie but I need more than 15 posts)