December 20 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Report: Catholic schools not root of sectarianism

Confirmation comes as no surprise to director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service

A report commissioned by the Scottish Government has confirmed that Catholic schools are not responsible for sectarianism.

The Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism released a report on sectarianism in Scotland on December 13 and its findings on Catholic schools have been welcomed by the Church.

The working group’s report states categorically that it has found sectarianism is not  linked to faith schools, the overwhelming majority of which are Catholic schools in Scotland.

“We do not believe that sectarianism stems from, or is the responsibility of, denominational schooling, or, specifically, Catholic schools, nor that sectarianism would be eradicated by closing such institutions,” it says.

“However, we fully recognise the important role that education plays in addressing social issues and bringing young people together. We have concluded that those involved in the delivery of education should develop opportunities for engagement, co-operation and relationship building.”

Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said the report’s findings should not come as a surprise to anyone.

“This is obviously not news to anyone involved with Catholic schools, but it’s interesting that is what a lot of the media coverage has focused on which I think is indicative of the deep-rootedness of the problem,” Mr McGrath said.

He added that what is ‘welcome’ about the report, is how thoroughly it investigated the issue of sectarianism in Scotland. “It goes beyond the superficial, and really tries to explore it in a thoughtful way,” he said. “In order to counter sectarianism we need to understand it and I think this is the first time there has been a serious attempt to do that.”

The group, set up by Scottish Minister for Community Safety Roseanna Cunningham, called on schools to create ‘imaginative anti-sectarian partnerships’ but says it does not believe any further legislation is needed on sectarianism.

The Scottish Government set up the group—led by Duncan Morrow, former chief executive of the Community Relations Council in the North of Ireland—last year to look at the issue of sectarianism in the country

In its first report, the group found that the default response in Scottish society to sectarianism was ‘avoidance’ and there was a need for ‘acknowledgement, diagnosis and relevant action.’

Dr Morrow, who chaired the group, said Scotland is ‘weary of the lingering impact of sectarianism.’ Ms Cunningham welcomed the publication of the report and announced that the work of the group will continue until March 2015.



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