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Question

148. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to bring forward changes to section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42281/15]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): Section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000 generally prohibits discrimination in relation to the admission policy operated by an educational establishment except where it is a primary or post-primary school operating in an environment which promotes certain religious values. In such circumstances, the establishment, under subsection 7 (3) (c), may favour the enrolment of students of a particular religious denomination in preference to others, or refuse to admit a student who is not of that denomination. However, any preferential admission policy in this regard is only permitted to the extent that it is essential to maintaining the religious ethos of the particular school. The provision reflects the freedom of religion guaranteed in Article 44 of the Constitution as interpreted by the Superior Courts and in particular the right of every religious denomination to manage its own affairs and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes. There are currently no plans to amend this section of the Equal Status Act 2000.
I should add that the broader issue of schools' admission policies is a matter for the Department of Education and Skills.