BY Peter Diamond | June 14 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Increasing concerns for Catholic education after second council ban

There is increasing concern over threats to Catholic education in Scotland after secularist moves to ban Church representatives from having voting rights on local authorities.

Edinburgh City Council has become the latest to consider removing rights for Church reps following Perth & Kinross Council—though the plans have been delayed until August in the capital.

All local authorities in Scotland must legally have at least three Church representatives on education committees, however councils have the power to remove voting rights from those representatives.


Dunkeld meeting

Dunkeld Diocese met recently with Perth & Kinross Council to discuss the decision, which will not be revisited for at least six months.

According to the council’s standing orders, ‘a decision shall not be altered or revoked within a period of six months from the date of such decision being taken, unless the convener of the relevant committee rules that a material change of circumstances has occurred to such extent that it is appropriate for the matter to be reconsidered.’

Following a meeting with the council, called by the Church, to address their voting ban, Bishop Stephen Robson said: “The outcome of the meeting was both cordial and fruitful. Both parties are moving forwards to engage in a meaningful collaboration, working to strengthen our mutual partnership in support of Catholic Education.”


Legal appeal

In Edinburgh, similar plans have been derailed after convener Ian Perry backed a call from the Conservatives for a decision to be delayed until August—to await a ‘legal appeal’ in Perth and Kinross over a similar decision.

However, this week Perth & Kinross Council said they were not aware of any legal action relating to the voting rights.

A Perth & Kinross Council spokesman said: “A motion was put to the Perth & Kinross Council meeting on April 24 by Councillor Xander McDade and Councillor Michael Barnacle. We are not aware of any current or pending legal action in relation to this matter.

“The Council’s Education and Children’s Services continues to work closely with the representatives of the Catholic Church in Dunkeld Diocese and we look forward to maintaining that cordial, positive and productive working relationship.”

In Edinburgh the meeting to discuss the motion was held on Ascension Thursday, meaning the Catholic Church rep on the education committee could not attend.

However, in a letter to councillors, the Church criticised the proposal, labelling them ‘deeply disappointing and a very sad development.’


Church criticism

“It endangers the very harmonious and positive relationship which has existed for many years between the council and the church,” the representative wrote.

“There have been no formal discussions regarding this matter only a very informal meeting and definitely not an official response.

“I believe that this motion being presented endangers this ideal and will damage the very positive, harmonious relationship of Church and State at every level.

“The Church hopes that the views of people of Faith continue to be important to members of Edinburgh City Council.

“When making a decision on this matter we would ask that councillors note that almost 20 per cent of the school estate and pupil population of Edinburgh City Council is within their Catholic schools, chosen by members of the electorate, who are from all faiths and none.”



A spokesman for St Andrews & Edinburgh Archdiocese said: “For over a century, the provision of Catholic education in Edinburgh has been a productive partnership between the Catholic community and the city’s council but now, sadly, that collaborative parity of esteem is being threatened by the Green Party who not only wish to strip the Catholic community of their vote on the local education committee but also seek to abolish Catholic schools in Edinburgh and beyond.”

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