Northern Ireland news

Organisation representing NI churches will 'be reflecting' on High Court ruling on Christian-focused RE in schools

The council said it believes 'teaching of RE and collective worship in controlled primary schools is an important matter'
Suzanne McGonagle

AN organisation representing three churches has said it will "be reflecting" on a High Court ruling that exclusively Christian-focused religious education taught at primary schools in Northern Ireland is unlawful.

The Transferor Representatives' Council also said it believes that "teaching of RE and collective worship in controlled primary schools is an important matter".

The council is made up of members from the Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches in Ireland and represents the interests of the three denominations in the north's education system.

The comments come after a judge on Tuesday held that the curriculum breaches human rights as it does not approach religious education in an "objective, critical and pluralist manner".

The verdict came in a legal challenge by a father and daughter to the current syllabus in controlled primary schools after proceedings were brought against the Department of Education.

Mr Justice Colton said the "unlawfulness identified requires a reconsideration of the core curriculum and the impugned legislation in relation to the teaching of Religious Education (RE) and the provision of Collective Worship (CW)".

But in a statement following the High Court decision, a spokesperson for the Transferor Representatives' Council said: "The teaching of RE and collective worship in controlled primary schools is an important matter.

"Mr Justice Colton indicated today that he would allow the parties time to reflect on his judgement and indeed, ‘…invited further submissions from counsel prior to making a final order.'

"While the transferring churches are not direct parties to this case, nonetheless, as this is an important and significant issue we will also be reflecting on today's decision over the coming weeks, and any subsequent final order that Mr Justice Colton may make.

"We will also need to take the time to discuss the matter as churches together."

Northern Ireland news