Correspondence : Donít forget the Catholic sectarians!
19 November 2006
I read with interest your accounts of the growing British sponsorship of the Loyalist groups and endorsement of the increasing sectarianisation of our society. I am constantly amazed by the ability of other Irish socialist groups to totally ignore the issue. There is however a big hole. You donít say enough about the Catholic Church and itís role.
One of the things I have in mind is the recent row between my union, the INTO, and the Bishops over proposals to have a training day for teachers in Catholic schools and teach us how to implement the Catholic ethos in the schools. ĎEthosí is just a lot of mumbo-jumbo to justify sectarian education. In practice it boils down to the churches ability to intimidate its staff and control hiring and firing (anti-discrimination rules donít apply to schools). The practice up to now has been that teachers have to Ďrecogniseí the ethos Ė now we are to be bullied into becoming plain clothes sectarian police in the schools!
Thatís not the whole story. The materials for this day were prepared by the Regional training authority and paid for out of the public purse. The day was stopped because all the training days were already allocated Ė the Church plans to come back next year! In the meantime a whole series of backroom discussions with the British will either retain the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS, also known as the inquisition) or place it at the heart of the proposed new single education authority. The forthcoming Bain report will amalgamate smaller state and maintained schools and there is a very strong possibility of the Catholic church being able to divide these schools on sectarian lines.
I look forward to further articles on this issue.