The Government's Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in Primary Schools has been officially opened.

The forum, which is chaired by Professor John Coolahan, was due to begin this afternoon by inviting written submissions from interested parties.

It is expected to sit in public session in late June where it will tease out elements of submissions with their authors.

The forum was established by Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn to find ways of divesting some Catholic primary schools to multi-denominational patronage.

Currently 92% of all primary schools in the State are Catholic.

It is understood written submissions will be required to address specific questions and themes set out by the Chair, and to not exceed a set length.

The deadline for submissions is likely to be early June.

While contributions are expected from interest groups such as Catholic organisations and teacher unions, any organisation or person is entitled to participate.

Earlier this month, Mr Quinn said it was no longer a question of whether Catholic schools should be divested, but how.

The forum is expected to complete its work and report to the minister by the end of the year.