This effectively gives schools and hospitals which are controlled by either of the churches the right to discriminate on the basis of marital status, family/parental status, sexual orientation, race, religion or membership of the Traveller Community if ".... the discrimination is essential for the maintenance of the religious ethos of the institution or is reasonable in order to avoid offending the religious sensitivities of its members or clients."
This Bill, if passed, will represent a major setback for the employment and civil rights of teachers, nurses and others who work in religious-run institutions. The vast majority of Primary Schools in this state are controlled by one or other of the churches and this Bill entrenches that position and open up the way for wholesale religious discrimination. It is nothing less than legislating for discrimination and as such must be opposed
"Teachers for Pluralism in Education" was established a number of months ago and has been campaigning against the Bill. The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) has belatedly begun to campaign as a result of intense pressure from members. A petition has been launched and activists within the union are pushing for a strike ballot.
This campaign must be stepped up and attempts by the church authorities to have their sectarian and domineering position at the helm of the education system consolidated must be resisted
Gregor Kerr, INTO activist