Educate Together, as the representative organisation for multi-denominational schools in Ireland would like to express its heart-felt sympathy, support and solidarity with the Roman Catholic community at this time of great loss at the passing of Pope John Paul II.
We welcome the decision of the Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin to allow Boards of Management of schools to decide how to mark this solemn international occasion according to the wishes of their local communities.
Many of our schools have decided to remain open on Friday and mark the occasion with special assemblies, silent time or special circle times in class. This is with the view that for our schools it is appropriate for parents, staff and pupils to bring the school community of many religious backgrounds together to reflect on the passing of a great religious leader and world figure. The objective is to provide a space where people of all religions and none can express their sympathy with their friends and colleagues of the Catholic faith.
This will be carried out in an age-appropriate manner during the school day. Fundamental to our thinking on this matter is the belief that by providing a supportive atmosphere for the children of all faiths and cultures we can create attitudes of respect and equality that will serve our society well in the future.
The National Office of Educate Together, on behalf of the whole sector, would like to pass on our deep condolences to all members of the Roman Catholic community.