The Catholic Primary School Management Association has welcomed a decision by the Department of Education to approve two new Catholic schools saying this was in line with parental wishes in both Galway and Drogheda.
Patrons of the new schools will be Bishop Martin Drennan in Galway and Cardinal Sean Brady in Drogheda.
The decision has been criticised by Educate Together, the patron body for 56 multi-denominational primary schools, who claim that there are already too many Catholic schools.
However, it has been pointed out that the new schools are in expanding areas and the approval did not contradictthe Church's agreement that it had too many schools overall as this statement did not apply in most new areas.
A spokesperson for Mr O'Keeffe said that extensive consultation had taken place with the different patron groups on the establishment of new primary schools and these discussions took full account of rising pupil numbers in rapidly developing areas.
The Minister of Education, Batt O'Keefe, has also approved the extension of the VEC pilot primary school programme into three new areas -- Navan in Co Meath, Kells in Co Kildare and Balbriggan in Co Dublin. No data on the success of the current two VEC primary schools in Co Dublin was yet available.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation welcomed the three additional VEC community national schools.
Incoming general secretary Sheila Nunan said they had the potential to accommodate the provision of separate or common religious education programmes or none during the school day, in accordance with parental choice.
Mr O'Keefe also announced that Educate Together would be the patron of two schools, in Swords, Co Dublin, and Portlaoise.