Calls for end to separate Catholic education


A LEGAL campaign group has called for the end of separate Catholic education to help stop sectarianism.

An editorial in the journal of the Scottish Legal Action Group says that it is the only way of

“confronting and counteracting sectarianism’ in Scotland.

The call follows growing concern about Old Firm-related sectarianism which included parcel bombs being sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon, his QC Paul McBride and former MSP Trish Godman.

And now the government is set to spend 525,000 tackling the problem in 2011-12.

But the Scolag journal, which was set up in 1975, believes that there should be a clear division between church and state and that the problem starts with segregated education and not football.

It says:

“The roots and effect of sectarianism lie beyond the game and we have increasingly resorted to the law to address unfair discrimination in employment, housing, and the provision of services.

“The Scottish Parliament has expressly legislated to make religious discrimination an aggravation to a criminal offence.

“But the degree to which such legal measures can counteract sectarianism is questionable and even doubtful when in other regards our law and civic bodies continue to enshrine, protect and systematically promote social division on religious lines.

“That is done most widely and effectively in our education system where the maintenance of religious instruction and observance, along with the public funding of denominational schools create and perpetuate religious discrimination. “

The journal argues that

“public funds should not be spent on religious observance’ and having Catholic and Jewish schools but no Muslim ones is discriminatory.

But the Catholic Church has condemned the views as

“blinded bigotry.”

Peter Kearney, for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said:

“These comments constitute an ill-informed and unprovoked attack on religious freedom.

“Bearing in mind that over 95 per cent of Scottish Catholics attend Catholic schools and over 50 per cent of Scots Catholics marry non-Catholics, our schools, self-evidently, do not create life-long social divisions, quite the opposite. “

Andrew Wilson, editor of the Journal, added:

“Separate education is fundamental to continuing discrimination in Scotland and getting rid of Catholic schools is fundamental to tackling it.

“In Scotland, when you go into a social gathering one of the first questions people ask is what school you went to, which is code for what religion are you, because they want to know if you’re one of

“us.” It’s that pernicious. “