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Managment of Primary Schools

26 September 2007

I support the call for a motion condemning the recent actions by the military junta in Burma. It is appropriate to express our concern about this given that the Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been honoured in this country and elsewhere. This is not empty posturing as Senator Harris suggests. It is not posturing when Senator Harris calls for a debate on foreign policy.

We are all deeply concerned about the savage attack on Garda Sherlock yesterday but it is posturing to call for the return of capital punishment in response. That cannot be an answer. It is something with which the Burmese junta would be happy but it is not a democratic solution to the problem of crime, even armed crime.

I support Senator O'Toole's call for a debate on the management of our primary education system. This is also topical. All Members will have noted the opening this week of Bracken Educate Together school in north Dublin and must be concerned that while it is important the children in that school have all received a school place, it signals a highly dangerous move towards a system of education that may be based upon racial segregation. We already have a system based on religious segregation as a result of the present system of patronage and as Senator O'Toole has stated, this must be examined. Members should seek a debate on restructuring the existing system of primary school education and management to ensure that patronage based on religious denomination will no longer be the basis on which our primary schools are managed and run. It is time to leave religious denomination outside the school door and a national conference on this matter is needed urgently.