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6. Religious Indoctrination

From the Stanley Letter……that the remaining one or two days in the week be set apart for giving, separately; such religious education to the children as may be approved by the clergy of their respective persuasions. They (The Commissioners) will also permit and encourage the clergy to give religious instruction to the children of their respective persuasions, either before or after the ordinary school hours, on the other days of the week.


  1. The National School system envisaged all children being in need of Christian relgious instruction.
  2. It was envisaged in the foundation of the National School system that children would receive religious instruction from local clergy.
  3. The National School system did not envisage that State funded teachers would carry out religious instruction.
  4. It became practice that National School teachers (funded by the State) gave religious instruction/indoctrination to children in National Schools.
  5. The system whereby religious denominations made significant financial contribution to the local National School may have allowed for payment towards religious instruction by State funded teachers. “Local” (as these were known) contributions by religious denominations have been discontinued.
  6. There is no tradition in Ireland of Catholic children receiving religious instruction except in school.
  7. The obvious solution to allowing religious instruction in National Schools, would be to revert to the original system whereby religious instruction was only done at separate defined periods in the schools – perhaps for 2 hours each Friday afternoon.
  8. Such religious instruction might be carried out by clergy, or lay people trained to give religious instruction, or perhaps by National School teachers who would be paid for this (separate from thier State salaries) by the different religious denominations.
  9. The State is constitutionally precluded from endowing or supporting any religion, and consequently there is no legislation governing religious instruction in National Schools, other than the obligation of all such schools to allow all children to exclude themselves from religious instruction.
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