Irish news

Surprise at archbishop’s remarks; Rediscovering Saint Patrick; Consecration of The Revd Pat Storey; Listen to NI schools on cuts, O’Dowd told ; Teachers ‘deserve right to appeal’

Surprise at archbishop’s remarks

Delegates to the Church of Ireland Dublin and Glendalough synod have reacted with surprise and some concern to remarks made by Archbishop Michael Jackson concerning sectarianism.

Irish Times – The archbishop, a native of Fermanagh, told the synod in Taney Hall, Dundrum on Tuesday his observations of sectarianism in the diocese had come through “bitter experience”. He said when he arrived in 2011 “my impression would have been of two dioceses which saw themselves as all-tolerant, all-liberal and all-inclusive”.

However he added: “Sectarianism itself is alive and well not least in the Church of Ireland community”. He referred also to what he called a “deeply dug-in antagonism to difference on the part of those who trumpet pluralism”.

Delegates told The Irish Times yesterday they were taken aback by the remarks which have caused a degree of soul- searching. Some, speaking on the basis of anonymity, said they believed locally that sectarianism was “something from up there [Northern Ireland]” but admitted they had to look inwardly. “Of course you only see it in others, never yourself,” said one.

Another said the church “could not continue ‘jollying along’ without getting back to what the roots of the church should really be about. It should be about a relationship with God, spiritual transformation and discipleship. These are the real things it should be about.”

Iva Beranek, who is new to the church and was attending the synod in her capacity as a worker with Ministry of Healing, said the remarks were “very brave”. “I consider the archbishop very wise and very Christian in his attitudes and I don’t think he would have used those words lightly.”

Avril Gillatt said the archbishop’s remarks where thought-provoking. “The church will go nowhere unless it is open, encouraging and offers hope”.
Another delegate representing the Diocesan Council, Philip McKinley, said: “If you look at 500 years of history, it’s polemiscised. Since Irish independence our Christianity has become entrenched on both sides and parallel structures were created to maintain those defences. We are now at a position where culture has moved on, thinking has moved on and we are at that strange crossover period from those structures and they are in need of reform.” He added that the archbishop’s “stark language” had led to much reflection.

The Rev Gillian Wharton, rector of Booterstown and Mount Merrion, admitted many people were “quite taken aback” by Dr Jackson’s remarks”.

Rediscovering Saint Patrick

‘Rediscovering Saint Patrick: A New Theory of Origins’ by Marcus Losack will be launched by Archbishop Michael Jackson in the Deanery of St Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday October 24 at 6.30 pm.

The book by the Wicklow based Church of Ireland cleric presents evidence that St Patrick was from France and not Britain, as is commonly believed. A four year search for evidence of the origins of our Patron Saint has led the Revd Marcus Losack to Brittany rather than Wales, Scotland or England. His hypothesis challenges our understanding of St Patrick and therefore the origins of the Irish Church, the author contends.

Based in Annamoe and a former rector of Newcastle, County Wicklow, Mr Losack believes his research has led him to the true homeland of St Patrick. His new book ‘Rediscovering Saint Patrick: A New Theory of Origins’ is published by Columba Press.

Consecration of The Revd Pat Storey

The Service of Consecration of the Revd Pat Storey as Bishop of Meath and Kildare, will take place at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin on Saturday 30 November 2013 (St Andrews Day) at 2.00pm.

Listen to NI schools on cuts, O’Dowd told

The Assembly’s education committee has appealed to the Education Minister to listen to schools’ concerns over proposed cuts.

Belfast Telegraph  – A total of 670 of 832 primary schools could have less money to spend on teachers, classroom assistants and resources from 2014-15 if reforms to schools’ funding are rubber stamped. Some could lose more than £40,000 annually.

Education Minister John O’Dowd has said that he does not believe the current funding system effectively targets social disadvantage.

But the reforms are increasingly being described as divisive and deeply flawed by principals.

“This is deteriorating into a very serious issue,” education committee chair Mervyn Storey said.

“Concern is not just from principals who are losing money but also from the beneficiaries. Four out of five education and library boards will be potentially losing 80% of their funding.

“I know one school which will see an almost £17,000 reduction in funding a year, which means they will lose one teacher,” he added.

“They will have an average class size of 31.03 (pupils). So the school will be in contravention of a department circular… which reminds schools of their duty that class sizes do not exceed 30.

“How do they square the circle? It does not make sense.”

Teachers ‘deserve right to appeal’

The school inspectorate is under pressure to introduce an appeals process for schools and teachers who feel their reputation is damaged by a negative inspection report.

Belfast Telegraph  – The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) has received 25 complaints in five years through its internal complaints process.

But the Assembly’s education committee chairman, Mervyn Storey, has likened the inspectorate’s complaints process to “the police investigating themselves”, in the absence of an appeal mechanism. Schools and individual teachers cannot currently appeal a decision by the ETI.

Addressing the Assembly’s education committee yesterday, chief inspector Noelle Buick pointed to ample opportunities for teachers to raise concerns about an inspection while it is ongoing.

However, committee members pointed to cases where schools have received a verbal inspection report which differed from the final, published inspection report.

The education committee is hearing oral evidence as part of its review into the effectiveness of the Education and Training Inspectorate’s approach.

Last year, the Belfast Telegraph highlighted concerns around the removal of two head teachers following separate inspection reports.