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Labor TD calls for a change in the policy of prioritizing school admissions for children of alumni

Labour Party politician, Aodhan Ó Riordain has proposed a new bill calling for a change in the policy of prioritising children or grandchildren of alumni.

Under a law passed by Fine Gael in 2018 under then-Education Minister Richard Bruton, any school can set aside 25% of its seats for the children or grandchildren of past students.

The Dublin Bay North TD Ó Riordain emphasizes that the current system is adversely affecting many children. This is mainly practiced in secondary schools, he added.

Through the Education (Admission to Schools) (Amendment) Bill 2020, TD Aodhan Ó Riordain has introduced a strong policy that will put an end to practices that cause disadvantages for many children.

The law, which came into force in 2018, was designed to eliminate barriers to primary and post-primary school access, particularly on the basis of religion.

“There’s certain vested interests in Irish education, particularly at second level, who want to keep the royal blue line of succession within their schools, they want to be able to count on the income of the parents and the grandparents, or past pupils for fundraising,” TD Ó Riordain said.

He questions, if a child’s father, mother, or grandparents did not go to the second level, why does he / she have a disadvantage? He states that the current system should be changed to facilitate school admissions for children whose parents or grandparents do not attend secondary school.

The Republic means it doesn’t matter who your parents are, it doesn’t matter who your grandparents are.

“This element of the school admissions act is something that means that children don’t enter into that process on the same basis, is something that needs to be removed,” he said.

Most opposition parties, including Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats, have declared support for the new bill.

Louise O’Reilly said the bill had a basis of equality, but she was shocked that the government did not automatically support the bill.

Education Minister Norma Foley said that she was not aware of how many schools are using the provision and that she would be looking into reviewing the law.

TDs will vote on the bill on Wednesday.

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