BY Peter Diamond | August 22 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

edinburgh city

Catholic parents campaign pays off as Green Party motion seeking to remove voting rights is defeated

Archbishop Cushley said:“We look forward to a constructive and positive exchange of views so that the ability of religious representatives to vote on matters affecting denominational schools continues.”

Catholic school parents have succeeded in defeating a motion at Edinburgh City Council that would have removed voting rights from Church representatives on education committees and threatened the future of Catholic education.

The council voted today, August 22, by 61 votes in favour of a motion by the ruling SNP and Labour coalition to delay the decision which will be put out for consultation with faith groups in Edinburgh before the issue is brought back to full council in November.

The Green Party had previously proposed to remove Church voting rights from education committees.

Successful Campaign

This original motion was backed by the Liberal Democrats and some Independent councillors but was opposed by the Conservative Party.

Ahead of the vote, the Church had coordinated a successful campaign which encouraged parents and parishioners to write to councillors expressing their concerns.

The ruling coalition’s motion, sent to all councillors on Wednesday ahead of the meeting, read: “The Council has agreed to continue the report and to organise a series of meetings with the Faith Community to examine their present relationship with the Council and explore how the engagement on the voting rights of the Religious Representatives can be modernised.”

Lack of Consulation

St Andrew’s & Edinburgh Archdiocese was represented at today’s meeting by retired teacher Frank Lennon who gave a ten minute delegation on behalf of the Catholic Church, arguing for voting rights and the status quo to remain.

In his remarks he cited the ‘complete lack of consultation’ and ‘failure’ by the Green Party to engage with faith communities in the capital city.

Following the debate all Edinburgh City councillors agreed to back the motion to agree to hold a ‘series of discussions’ with all religious communities, including the Catholic Church, on whether voting rights should remain on the education committee.

Voting continues

The Catholic Church have welcomed the decision by Edinburgh City Council and have thanked parishioners and parents who campaigned on the issue.

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrew’s & Edinburgh Archdiocese said: “I am very grateful for the enormous support the Archdiocese has received from councillors and from people concerned about this motion.

“We look forward to a constructive and positive exchange of views so that the ability of religious representatives to vote on matters affecting denominational schools continues.”

The motion will be debated at the next full council meeting due to take place in November 21, on the 101st anniversary of the Education (Scotland) Act, which brought Catholic schools into the state system.

In April 2019 Perth and Kinross Councill took the decision to remove voting rights from church representatives after an Independent Councillor motion was backed by the Green Party and supported by the 15 SNP, 2 Tories and 1 Labour councillor.

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