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A discriminating education system: religious admission policies in Irish schools and international human rights law

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Irish equality legislation permits discrimination in favour of co-religionists in admission policies to state-funded schools. This article examines whether Irish policies and practice in the area of pupil admissions meet and satisfy international human rights standards. In doing so it draws on material from interviews with parents and a survey to schools to provide an insight into how religious admission polices impact on the lives and rights of individuals. It concludes that by providing exemptions from equality legislation to religious schools, in a situation where these schools are in a near-monopolistic position, the Irish State is disregarding its responsibility to protect the right to non-discrimination, the right to education and the right to freedom of religion of those children and parents who do not adhere to the ethos of these religious bodies.

Affiliations: 1: Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Bangor University, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG, UK, a.mawhinney@bangor.ac.uk

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