The Minister for Education has proposed legislative changes that would outlaw school admission practices that he says disadvantage certain students to the benefit of others.
Publishing a discussion document on enrolment policies, Ruairi Quinn said he wanted schools to stop favouring the children of past pupils when it comes to admission.
The Department said schools should not operate lengthy waiting lists over years because they disadvantage families new to an area.
Schools should also not favour the children of past pupils for similar reasons or children who have attended named feeder schools.
Admission to any school, including a Gaelscoil, should not take into account the linguistic ability, or lack of, of the parent.
This document also condemns free schools requiring deposits and other financial contributions.
The minister said the proposals are about making things better for all.
He has called for responses from educators and from the public over the coming months.
Traveller group welcomes proposals
The Irish Traveller Movement has welcomed proposals contained in the consultation document published by the Minister today.
It says it is delighted that it includes proposals to end aspects of admission policies that can act as a barrier for Traveller children.
Second level teacher's union the TUI has also welcomed the development.
In a statement, it said in too many cases where a school was not full, refusals to enrol students were made for spurious reasons.
The union also said the Department's past inaction had facilitated certain schools in 'openly flouting education and equality legislation'.
Managers of the country's catholic secondary schools said they especially welcomed the Minister's statement that the key challenge was to strike a balance between preserving school traditions and the need to ensure fairness.