Statement of the Archdiocese of Dublin in response to remarks in Dáil Éireann concerning Catholic patrons and the reconfiguration of schools
June 30, 2023
In response to certain comments made under parliamentary privilege in Dáil Éireann yesterday [29/6/23] concerning the reconfiguration of patronage of primary schools, the Archdiocese of Dublin wishes to confirm that it, along with several other dioceses in the State, engaged in a spirit of partnership with a Department of Education pilot reconfiguration process. In Dublin, this involved substantial engagement with 29 school communities to explore the option of leaving Catholic patronage for alternative multi-denominational patronage. The process was led by an independent facilitator, appointed by the Department of Education. The process was entered into in good faith by both the Archdiocese and the Department. As in other dioceses, Archbishop Farrell, as the local diocesan patron, engaged fully with the process, providing the independent facilitators with every aid and assistance requested of him.
Ms Norma Foley TD, Minister for Education, yesterday [29/6/23] confirmed in the Dáil the informed view of her Department as to the full cooperation of the Catholic patrons in their participation in the process. Archbishop Farrell notes and confirms the Minister’s reassurance that the pilot is being studied to understand how the process may evolve and inform future engagement with school communities. The Catholic patrons and their representatives are actively working with the Department on this review.
For some, the reconfiguration process can only be judged a success if school communities conform to the demands of others outside of their communities for change. Their tangible impatience with the pace of evolution in education is evident, and it is not uncommon for people engaged with a change process to be impatient when progress is slow. This impatience can often become a desire to impose desired outcomes, regardless of local views. The Catholic patrons, as bishops and pastors, are not minded to simply impose solutions onto communities. Minister Foley and her Department are of the same view. Reconfiguration is not an abstract issue, but one that is rooted in the concrete realities of the lives of people and their communities, and is a process of consensus building.
This pilot process was intended to provide opportunity for both Church and State to learn, and then to create, a viable path to secure reconfiguration on a greater scale in a sensitive, efficient and effective manner. Its effectiveness is contingent on the quality of cooperation between the two. Archbishop Farrell confirms his and the other Catholic patrons’ determination to continue to work in good faith with the State to secure the common educational good of our society.
For media wishing to obtain accurate and up-to-date information on the Archdiocese of Dublin and the State’s pilot process to reconfigure school patronage, please contact Peter Henry, Communications Officer of the Archdiocese, at firstname.lastname@example.org.