30 March 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Bishop of Clogher, the Right Reverend John McDowell, is one of nine Church of Ireland bishops acting as school patrons who have voiced strong concerns about the impact of proposed education cuts on small Protestant schools.
In a statement issued during the week, the bishops voice the fear that some Church of Ireland schools across the country, particularly those in rural areas which cannot be amalgamated, will be negatively impacted by the proposals in question.
The bishops say that the cuts will have “…a disproportionate impact on the schools of which we are patrons”, and argue that, given the repeated commitment of successive governments to pluralism in the area of education, faith-based schools have a right to expect genuine governmental support.
“While we wish to be regarded as realistic and creative in our contribution to present discussions, we would also emphasise that no single issue has in recent years caused such a degree of anxiety amongst our communities as this one,” the bishops continue.
“It is no exaggeration to say that this is a test case of the nation’s commitment to its citizens who are members of a religious minority and who for generations have sought to support and enrich the life of the state in an atmosphere of pluralism and tolerance.”
The joint message says that while patrons recognise that in the current situation many of the challenges facing schools must be addressed on a case by case basis, they nevertheless feel a desire to articulate certain common principles while awaiting the appearance of the Value for Money Review of small schools, which they expect will play an important role in the debate.
The following is the statement of principles issued by the episcopal patrons:
“We recognise the financial realities facing the state at this time and accept that our …

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