Dáil Éireann - Volume 553 - 26 June, 2002

Written Answers. - Religious Education Programmes.

  65. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the recent call from the INTO for the establishment of a forum on religious education in interdenominational schools, having regard to problems that have arisen in a number of others; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14733/02]

  Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): My Department has been in contact with the INTO regarding the difficulties that arose in relation to the teaching of religion in one interdenominational school. My officials are not aware of any difficulties in relation to other such schools.

  The Deputy will appreciate that it is a matter for patron bodies to decide upon the ethos that will apply in individual schools. Neither I nor my Department have any wish to interfere in such matters.

  My Department does not lay down a religious education curriculum at primary level. It is a matter for the patron to outline the religious education programme which it expects the school to follow under its patronage and to determine how the programme should be taught. My Department's only stipulation is that a minimum of 30 minutes per day must be allocated to the teaching and implementing of religious education curricula.

  In an effort to resolve the difficulties in the school, my predecessor offered the parties the possibility of a facilitation process. This was accepted by all concerned and a series of meetings under this process has already taken place. An interim report is expected in the first week of July.