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on Wednesday March 18th was an important event in the passage of the Education and Skills Bill through the political arena.

Cardinal Brady and the Bishop Donal McKeown led Catholic Commission have stepped on to the big stage on the education issue by citing in their evidence to the Northern Ireland Assembly Education Committee nothing less than the European Convention on Human Rights.

The First Protocol (1952) to the European Convention on Human Rights includes the right to education (article 2):

No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

Implementation of the Convention is ensured through cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights.

Now the Cardinal wishes the Education Committee to respect the rights of the Catholic Church during consideration of the ESA bill on religious belief grounds, including estate and employment matters, while at the same time ignoring  the rights of parents with respect to their philosophical convictions on the matter of academic selection and grammar schools.

 Cardinal Brady’s Church has declared academic selection “immoral”.

It may be helpful to revisit a PACE commentary on the Catholic Church’s selective position on social justice from early 2008