Monday, January 25, 2010

Catholic Church 'should give up control of primary schools'

Catholic Church 'should give up control of primary schools'
STEPHEN COLLINS Political Editor

Mon, Jan 25, 2010

IN THE wake of the Murphy report a majority of people believe that the Catholic Church should give up its control of the primary school system, according to the latest Irish Times /Ipsos, MRBI poll.

When asked about the issue, 61 per cent of people said the church should give up control of the school system, 28 per cent said it should maintain its position and 11 per cent had no opinion on the matter.

Fianna Fáil voters were most supportive of the church maintaining its current role, while Sinn Féin voters were the most hostile to it continuing to have control of the system.

There were no great differences in terms of age. Over 65s were marginally more supportive of the church’s position, but the views of the 18-24 age group were almost identical.

There was also a uniform response in terms of social class but there were some regional variations with voters in Dublin most strongly against continuing church control and voters in the rest of Leinster most supportive. This reflected a national urban/rural divide on the issue, with the response of people in urban areas more negative than those in rural areas.

The poll was taken on Monday and Tuesday of last week among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all 43 constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.

When asked if their attitude to the Catholic Church had changed following the disclosures in the Murphy report about its handling of child abuse allegations, voters were almost equally divided. Forty-seven per cent of voters said their attitude to the church had become more negative; 47 per cent said it had not changed; 3 per cent said it had become more positive; and 3 per cent had no opinion.

Asked how they felt about the response of the church to the Murphy report, 74 per cent said the church had not responded adequately, 16 per cent said it had, and 10 per cent had no opinion.

People aged 65 and over were more inclined to believe that the church had responded adequately but even in this age group a large majority felt the response had not been adequate.

Voters in Dublin were strongest in the view that the church had not responded adequately while those in Connacht/Ulster were most inclined to the view that it had responded adequately.

In party political terms Fianna Fáil voters were more inclined to say the church had responded adequately but a substantial majority of party supporters still felt that it had not responded adequately.

Sinn Féin voters were the most negative about the church’s response.

The only positive aspect of the poll from the church’s point of view is that a majority of voters believe that it will change to prevent clerical child abuse from happening in the future.

In response to being asked if they thought the church would change to prevent abuse 52 per cent said they believed it would, 35 per cent said it would not and 13 per cent had no opinion.

As with the other questions on the Murphy report, Fianna Fáil voters were most inclined to the view that the church would change with 61 per cent of them believing that it would.

Fine Gael voters were almost equally inclined to the same view with 57 per cent saying the church would change.

Labour Party supporters were more negative, followed by the Greens with Sinn Féin voters the only ones to show a majority for the view that the church would not change.

In age terms those over 50 and the 18-24s were most inclined to the view that the church would change to prevent abuse in the future. Across the regions Dublin was again the most negative from the church’s point of view while Munster was the most positive.

© 2010 The Irish Times

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