State to Consider Muslim School-Dress Code

May 20, 2008

Author: Katherine Donnelly and Ralph Riegel


SCHOOL dress codes in an increasingly culturally diverse Ireland will be the subject of a national consultation process in the autumn.

Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe yesterday said he had asked Junior Minister Conor Lenihan, who has responsibility for integration, to consider the matter in the context of work on the development of an Intercultural Education Strategy.

The issue has come to the fore after a Muslim family from Gorey, Co Wexford sought permission for their daughter to wear a hijab -- a headscarf worn by Muslim women -- to school.

Gorey Community School principal Nicholas Sweetman sought guidelines from the Department of Education last September on the wearing of the hijab but the department refused to issue advice.

Mr Sweetman allowed Shekina Egan (13) to wear the hijab, but called on the State to give guidance and so avoid a situation where one school had a policy allowing a hijab, while it was not permitted in another.