Ireland Steps Away From Catholic Schools

Shawn Pogatchnik, AP, December 14, 2007

Ireland’s government announced Thursday it will organize new nonreligious primary schools in the capital, a move that reflects growing immigration and declining church power in this traditionally Roman Catholic nation.

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[Education Minister Mary Hanafin] said a third elementary school in Dublin, which opened three months ago under the patronage of the Catholic Church, would be transferred to secular control within two years. About 95 percent of its students are non-Catholics, chiefly Muslims and Protestants from Africa.

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The issue has grown each year since the mid-1990s, when Ireland’s newly booming economy fueled its first-ever wave of immigration from eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.

In little more than a decade, Ireland has gone from being a virtually all-white society to one with a large immigrant population, particularly on Dublin’s north side, which is developing neighborhoods with predominantly foreign-born populations.

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