The Mid-West Humanists met the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan T.D. on Friday 11 December 2015, to thank her for deciding to remove Rule 68 from the Rules for National Schools 1965.
We show the text of Rule 68 at the end of this article.
From the meeting we learned that the Minister is considering whether to delete part 1 of Rule 69, as it favours asking the father rather than the mother about the religion of the child. Further, it is contrary to human rights conventions that parents should have to reveal their religion.
However, the Mid-West Humanists said to the Minister that the remainder of Rule 69, parts 2 to 5, should be retained, because these direct schools not to give to a child any religious instruction of which the parents or guardians do not approve.
The Mid-West Humanists also said to the Minister that Rule 2 particularly should be retained. Rule 2 copies the guarantee, in almost identical words, of Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution, that a child has a right to attend a school receiving public money without attending religious instruction at that school.
The Minister said that on deleting Rule 68, in January 2016, she will send a circular letter to each of the 3200 National Schools to inform them of the change. The Mid-West Humanists asked the Minister to consider in that circular letter reminding all schools that they are obliged to obey particularly Rule 2 and Rule 69.
You can obtain the Rules for National Schools 1965, as
The Rules mentioned now follow.
Rules for National Schools 1965, an extract
Rule 2 —
2. These Rules do not discriminate between schools under the management of different religious denominations nor may they be construed so as to affect prejudicially the right of any child to attend a national school without attending religious instruction at that school.
(should be retained)
Rule 68 —
68. Of all the parts of a school curriculum Religious Instruction is by far the most important, as its subject-matter, God’s honour and service, includes the proper use of all men’s faculties, and afford the most powerful inducements to their proper use. Religious instruction is, therefore, a fundamental part of the school course, and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school. The teacher should constantly inculcate the practice of charity, justice, truth, purity, patience, temperance, obedience to lawful authority, and all the other moral virtues. In this way he will fulfil the primary duty of an educator, the moulding to perfect form of his pupils’ character, habituating them to observe, in their relations with God and with their neighbour, the laws which God, both directly through the dictates of natural reason and through Revelation, and indirectly through the ordinance of lawful authority, imposes on mankind.
(should be deleted)
Rule 69 —
69. (1) The religious denomination of each pupil must be entered in the school register and roll-book. This information should be ascertained from the parent (the father, if possible) or the guardian of the pupil, where necessary.
(should be deleted)
(2) (a) No pupil shall receive, or be present at, any religious instruction of which his parents or guardian disapprove.
(b) The periods of formal religious instruction shall be fixed so as to facilitate the withdrawal of pupils to whom paragraph (a) of this section applies.
(3) Where such religious instruction as their parents or guardians approve is not provided in the school for any section of the pupils, the pupils must, should their parents or guardians so desire, be allowed to absent themselves from school, at reasonable times, for the purpose of receiving that instruction elsewhere.
(4) Visitors may not be present during formal religious instruction unless with the express approval of the manager.
(5) The periods of formal religious instruction shall be indicated on the timetable.
(parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 should be retained)