The patronage of primary schools is not a key concern for parents when looking for a place for their child, it has been claimed.
This is according to new research into parental understanding of patronage from the Catholic Schools Partnership (CSP), which found geographical proximity and knowledge of the facility's quality are more pressing concerns.
It also found that patronage is not a term widely known by parents, while many consider the defining elements of the Church's involvement in education to be the ethos of the school and the teaching of religious studies.
Commenting on the results, Fr Michael Drumm, chairman of the CSP, said it is important the issue is not overstated.
"We need to be careful about the whole patronage question and that it is not hyped up to such a level that at a national level it becomes the key issue on the agenda," the Irish Times quoted him as saying.
However, the research did find that Catholic schools are considered to have unique identifiable characteristics that are still highly valued by many people in Ireland.