Schools May Breach Irish Children’s Human Rights

The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHCR) has told the Irish government that students’ religious liberty is at risk and the role of religion in schools must be addressed.

The IHCR, in a discussion paper, argued that allowing students of minority faiths or no faith to opt out of religious instruction may not be adequate since religion permeates the daily operations of most Irish schools.

Ninety-two percent of Ireland’s denominational primary schools are run by the Catholic Church, and there are no non-denominational schools. Schools in Ireland require students to spend two or more hours per week on religious instruction.

Recognizing that Ireland has become a more secular nation, the United Nations Human Rights Council will review Ireland’s record on religion in its schools during the next year.

Current Irish policy could soon be challenged under the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.