Decision eases cost burden;Briefing;International

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
Ireland. Ireland's tiny multi-denominational school sector has received a boost with a government decision to pay for all new sites and most building costs.

There are only 16 multi-denominational primaries in the country compared with more than 3,000 denominational schools.

Until now all the school providers have had to purchase their sites and pay up to 15 per cent of the cost of new buildings.

This placed a considerable burden on local communities, particularly those served by multi-denominational schools. They draw children from a wide area and so cannot rely on the fundraising of church parishes.

Now the government has agreed to buy the sites and lease them to the schools. It has also capped the amount communities have to pay for buildings to IRpound;50,000 (pound;46,000).

The decision could spark demands from non-mainstream groups providing schools. Their chances of success could also be influenced by the outcome of a case currently before the High Court, in which a Steiner school (where a child's social development is emphasised over formal learning) is contesting the refusal of the department of education and science to recognise it.

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