The Constitution and the Protestant Schools cuts Controversy: Seeing the Wood for the Trees

Eoin Daly

Volume 1 Issue 1 Article 2_

The recent withdrawal of special financial arrangements for Protestant secondary schools provoked a great deal of polemic surrounding the accommodation of minority religions within Ireland’s peculiar model of patronage in education. This article questions the Government’s contention that the “ancillary grant”, under which Protestant fee-paying schools were effectively treated as part of the “free” sector, was incompatible with constitutional anti-discrimination guarantees. It suggests that the measure represented a species of constitutionally permissible, if not constitutionally required, accommodation of religion. The ancillary grant controversy also serves as a prism through which to view the broader limitations of the constitutional framework for the guarantee of religious freedom in the education context.

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