The Cabinet has approved proposals that would prohibit Catholic primary schools from giving priority to Catholic children when it comes to enrolment.

The proposals are contained in a proposed amendment to new school admissions legislation that is currently making its way through the system.

The proposals, which are likely to be opposed by Catholic interest groups, have been with the Attorney General for several months.

It is understood the amendment allows minority religions to continue to discriminate in favour of their co-religionists, in order to protect their ethos.

Last year Minister for Education Richard Bruton said he believed it was unfair that parents felt pressure to baptise their children in order to gain admission to their local school.

Mr Bruton also said it was unfair that preference was given by publicly-funded religious schools to children of their own religion who might live some distance away, ahead of children of a different religion, or of no religion, who lived close to the school.

A four-week consultation process was held early last year, and it attracted almost 1,000 responses.