Pavee Point Deplores School Ruling

Pavee Point deplores school ruling

Monday 25 July 2011

Released 3:00pm
(Note that this is an amended release, updating facts and removing information for editors)

Pavee Point Travellers’ Centre deplores the decision of Clonmel Circuit Court which overturned the determination of the Equality Tribunal that the Christian Brothers School in Clonmel had unnecessarily discriminated against Travellers.

Judge Teahon found that excluding a Traveller prospective student from a school in the area on the basis of no prior family history at the school did constitute discrimination on the Traveller ground by the school, but that the onus was on the school to show  that the method used to select pupils was necessary.  He found that, since the school was oversubscribed, the policy was appropriate.

Pavee Point noted the valuable work undertaken by the Irish Traveller Movement’s legal team, and the determination of the family in persevering with the case, whose outcome turns on its head the ruling of the Equality Tribunal last year that the school had discriminated without reasonable cause.

“It was disappointing that the school decided to appeal the ruling of the Equality Tribunal,” said Martin Collins, joint director of Pavee Point.  “It was plain to even the most casual onlooker that the requirement for a parent or older sibling to previously have attended the school perpetuates a discrimination against new communities and Travellers.  People outside the school community are destined to always remain so.”

“This decision of the court copper-fastens an unnecessary state funded discrimination and makes it harder to bring about the educational revolution Travellers need to break the cycle of dependency and underachievement suffered by our community.”

Pavee Point supports Minister for Education Ruari Quinn’s expressed determination to review Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 – the section dealing with enrolment and appeals, but is critical of the Department’s cuts to Traveller education, which will remove the Visiting Teacher for Traveller Service, the Senior Traveller Training Centres and rural school transport in the next year.