MEMBERS of the Catholic Church will meet with Fife Council leader David Ross after highlighting “particular concerns” with the proposal to remove religious representatives’ voting rights on education matters.

Last month Dunfermline councillor Aude-Boubaker Calder said they are “not accountable to the people of Fife” and should not have a say but this was described by Archbishop Leo Cushley, the leader of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, as a “serious threat” to the future of faith schools.

At present religious representatives on the education scrutiny committee are allowed to vote on issues affecting schools including St Margaret’s Primary and St Columba’s High, both in Dunfermline, Holy Name Primary in Oakley and St John’s Primary in Rosyth.

Dunfermline Press: Archbishop Leo Cushley described the proposal as a serious threat to the future of faith schools in Fife.Archbishop Leo Cushley described the proposal as a serious threat to the future of faith schools in Fife. (Image: Newsquest)


At last week’s full council meeting Cllr Ross reported: “Members will be aware of the current discussion surrounding the voting status of religious representatives in relation to education matters.

“Particular concerns on this matter have been raised with the council by the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh and I have arranged to meet with representatives of the archdiocese to listen directly to their concerns.

“A report on this matter will be submitted to the council in June.”

In a letter last month, the archbishop had urged Catholic churchgoers in Fife to object to the proposal. He had said: “If this was passed, it would effectively remove from the church the ability to influence the running and direction of our Catholic schools.

"As such, this proposal presents a serious threat to the identity and Catholicity of our schools in Fife and is also, in all probability, just the first step in the process to remove faith education from schools in Scotland altogether.

“"To deprive the church representatives of voting rights on the education scrutiny committee, where they sit on behalf of us and our children, casts into serious doubt the commitment of some of our elected representatives to the future of Catholic schools."

Archbishop Cushley had added: “The decision has not, however, been taken yet and there is still time for you to influence your elected representatives who are very sensitive to local opinion.

"If you care about Catholic schools and if you want them to continue to flourish in the future, please write to your local councillor as a matter of urgency to ask him or her to vote against this proposal to remove the vote from the Church representatives in Fife."

In her original motion, Cllr Boubaker Calder had argued: “Many people are concerned that in education matters, religious representatives who are not accountable to the people of Fife have the same voting rights as councillors.

"There is a serious concern over this issue, and I took action to secure a review on this.

"It is clear this concern is shared amongst many councillors. If we make a mistake, our constituents can hold us accountable at the ballot box which is quite right. The same cannot be said for religious representatives.”