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Educate Together School in Dundalk

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Dundalk, biggest town in Ireland, with nearly 35.000 people does not have any multi-denominational or non denominational schools. The majority of schools are Catholic. I am an atheist, my 6 year old is not baptised. He attends a Catholic school in Dundalk because there's not a secular option. I have opted him out of Religion Instruction but I was told by the Principle that the school doesn't have to provide anything for him to do while Religion is being taught. I was told the same by the Department of Education. So my child has to sit in his classroom while Religion is being taught to the other kids. He doesn't understand why he has to sit on his own, looking at a book, not being allowed to talk while having to listen to everything. He's only 6 and he's already confused, he comes home talking about baby Jesus, only for me to tell him that we do not believe in him. He doesn't understand why his teacher tells the other kids stories that we, as a family, don't believe are right. That's very confusing for him, he feels sad that he has to sit on his own for half an hour every day, he feels left out and he feels he's been punished for something he doesn't understand. I'm furious with the Goverment that allows children to be treated like that. Schools in Ireland are State funded, why does my child has to be treated like that? I was recently in touch with Educate Together only to be told there aren't any plans in the near future to open an Educate Together School in Dundalk. The reason the Goverment gives is that there are enough school places in Dundalk. And that might be true, maybe there are enough school places, but there's hardly any variety, most of them are Catholic and a few Church of Ireland. Dundalk has a multicultural population due to having companies like EBay and PayPal, lots of people from other countries now live in Dundalk. It's cruel to discriminate young kids just because their parents don't believe in anything or believe in something else. The Goverment says it takes time to make changes, honestly, is it that much to ask for a Non Religious School in a town with nearly 35.000 people? Is the Goverment going to be responsible for when all these kids grow up with psychological problems due to the mix messages they get at home and school? I am not even asking for a non-denominational school, as I don't think there are any in Ireland, all I'm asking is for an Educate Together which is multi-denominational. And if that is not even possible, how about moving Religion Instruction to the end of the school day so kids who do not attend Religion could be picked up earlier? And also, how about removing all Religious statues, symbols and prayers from schools? There are plenty of churches all around the country for those purposes. I am only asking for my Son's Human Rights to be respected. Please open an 'Educate Together' or a 'Non Denominational' school in Dundalk. Thanks for your help. Ana.

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