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Limerick Bishop Criticises Government Grant for Secondary Education |

Limerick Bishop Criticises Government Grant for Secondary Education

LIMERICK, Thursday – In a gathering at Laurel Hill Convent today, Bishop O’Dwyer expressed his concerns regarding the recent government scheme proposing a £10,000 grant for Intermediate schools. The bishop emphasized that the true significance of the issues involved might not be fully understood, and he warned of potential dangers to religious principles.

The government’s scheme, unveiled by Chief John Sweetman, outlines the distribution of a substantial grant to Intermediate schools. Bishop O’Dwyer, however, believes that amidst the extensive discussions about the details, the broader implications of the scheme could be overlooked.

A significant condition of the grant, as laid down by the government, is that a certain number of lay teachers must be employed in Intermediate schools. Bishop O’Dwyer pointed out that this condition goes beyond the existing regulations for Intermediate education, emphasizing that not only should educational work be carried out by laypersons, but a specific number of them must be employed.

The bishop questioned the rationale behind this new condition, asking if there is a need for a lay teacher for every ten pupils. He raised concerns about the potential impact on the delicate balance between religious and secular education. He noted that the ongoing debate on this issue is indicative of a broader struggle between religious and secular influences in education.

Bishop O’Dwyer expressed apprehension about the possible consequences of the condition, especially considering the historical context. He highlighted that priests, nuns, and monks are disqualified from teaching, leading to the closure of numerous schools and the displacement of educators.

Drawing parallels with the situation in England, Bishop O’Dwyer accused the government of applying what he termed “administrative pressure” on Catholic and other religious schools, attempting to oppress them in the hope of eliminating them. He warned that a similar strategy might be employed in Ireland, coercing teachers, particularly in financially strained positions, into compromising the Catholic principles of their schools.

The bishop noted that the proposed grant of £40,000 per year was a meagre sum in comparison to the potential consequences for religious education in Ireland. He stressed the importance of guarding the independence of Catholic schools, built and equipped by Catholics in Ireland, which have traditionally enjoyed the freedom to educate pupils in accordance with their religious principles.

While acknowledging the need for financial support, Bishop O’Dwyer insisted that the proposed grant should not compromise the core values of Catholic education. He urged caution in the implementation of the new conditions, emphasizing that the principle of freedom in education must be preserved at all costs.

Addressing teachers directly, Bishop O’Dwyer encouraged them to consider the long-term implications of the proposed conditions on their schools. He urged them to prioritize their Catholic identity over financial considerations, drawing parallels with the experiences of Catholic teachers in England.

In conclusion, Bishop O’Dwyer expressed scepticism about the ongoing negotiations with Mr Birrell and suggested that, if necessary, Home Rule should be pursued in the Irish Parliament. He emphasized that what may seem complex to politicians is often clear to the people of the country. The bishop concluded by asserting that, despite financial needs, adherence to principles is preferable to compromising the values of Catholic education.

Dublin Daily Express – Friday 27 June 1913

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