Virtually all Irish primary schools have a religious ethos. I'm not religious myself, but that part doesn't bother me massively to be honest. Religion surrounds us - an education which ignored that would not be good preparation for life.
What does bother me is that tax payer funded schools are allowed to officially discriminate against 4 year old kids based on their parent's religious belief. National schools are allowed to ask for a baptismal cert. Several schools have official selection procedures which give preference to religious kids in other areas over non-religious kids who live near the school. I spoke to a principle of one school yesterday to laid it out for me.
First in the queue are Catholic kids in the area. Then kids who have brothers in the school (who are presumably mostly catholic too). Then non-Catholic kids of other religions in the area. Then Catholic kids from other areas. Finally, at the end of the queue, are non-religious kids in the area. Basically a Catholic school prefers to take a Hindu kid who lives far from the school over a local kid who has no religion.
Now - if there were places reserved for non-religious kids somewhere else it wouldn't be too bad. But there is one tiny Educate Together school about 10km from us. As well as being massively over subscribed - it is not, actually, reserved for non-religious kids - anyone can go there and they don't ask about religion. They have less than 20 places each year in total.
So basically, being born into a non-religious family means that a kid may lose his right to education. Is this right?
Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights forbids religious discrimination by the state. Yet, state funded schools in Ireland blatantly and openly do so.
I believe this is probably illegal. State funded primary schools should be forbidden from asking for baptismal certs. 4 year olds don't choose their religion or non-religion. They should not be discriminated against based on their parents beliefs.