Debate over religious control of schools and the involvement of teachers and parents in the ethos of education.

A report published in The Irish Times newspaper claims that additions to be made to the lease of primary schools would give their religious patrons wide ranging powers of veto over the management of these schools, thereby copperfastening their hold over primary education.

The Irish Times report refers to 'The Deed of Variation', a confidential document which it claims gives the local bishops the power over how schools are run, from the selection of the Board of Management and its chairperson. The report also claims that the bishop will have the power to dissolve the board if they believe that the ethos of the school is threatened.

The board will be made up of eight people, two parents, two teachers, two nominees of the patron and two others from the wider community who the paper reports must have a commitment to the ethos of the school.

Following the publication of the report, the Minister for Education Niamh Breathnach rejected outright any suggestions that new and powerful guarantees of church control of primary schools were being introduced. She said nothing had been finalised. Niamh Breathnach said that the document is just one of several documents being considered by the education partners in a process designed to advance power sharing between the schools, teachers and parents.

I am committed to partnership in education. With the partnership of the owners, the teachers and very specifically the parents I am looking forward to agreed documents from this group.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 May 1996. The reporter is Roisín Duffy.