The school was described in the Irish Independent on 10 October as spending "too much time" teaching the Koran and provoking "fears extremism could flourish". The Sunday Independent of 16 October reported that the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, "conducted his own investigation into a string of disturbing claims about the management of the school", and that "his fears were confirmed". But, according to the Department of Education, religious education at the North Dublin Muslim School does not contravene their guidelines.
Department of Education guidelines say that schools should teach religion for 30 minutes every day. The North Dublin Muslim School teaches religion for 45 minutes every day, but the school day runs longer to compensate. A spokesperson for the Department of Education said "every school is entitled to uphold its own ethos" and that there was nothing wrong with spending extra time teaching religion "provided they're not infringing upon the curriculum".
The Irish National Teachers Association (INTO) said its members had no complaints about the teaching of religion at the school. The Muslim school in Clonskeagh, (which is overseen by the same patron, Imam Yahya Al-Hussein), has followed the same practice for religious education since opening in 1990, and has received favourable reports from the Department of Education.
Religion classes at both schools include time for teaching Arabic, which is needed to read the Koran. At present, two classes per week are devoted to the Koran, with a further three classes given to teaching Arabic and "moral education", the school's board of management chairman, Shahzad Ahmed, said.
The Irish Independent reported on 10 October that Mary Hanafin "has ordered closer scrutiny of a Muslim school", following "an investigation by one of her inspectors". The Sunday Independent then reported, on 16 October, that the Taoiseach "blew the whistle" on the North Dublin school after undertaking "his own investigation" into the school during the summer, and alerted the Minister for Education. A government spokesman said the Taoiseach had not conducted an investigation but had referred a "constituency matter" relating to the school to the Minister for Education.
The Department of Education said issues relating to management at the school had arisen "during the course of (the) normal inspection process" and the majority of these issues had been resolved.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) said "huge progress has been made" in the school towards resolving problems with teachers' employment conditions and school administration.
The school had an unqualified teacher as acting principal for its first four years. This led to problems as the teacher "didn't know the standard rules and procedures for the running of the school", an INTO spokesman said. A new principal, Neil Hennigan, has recently been appointed, and has driven improvements in the running of the school, he said.
Last year, the union notified the Department of Education that the school was "in breach of procedures" for not appointing temporary teachers to permanent posts. Since then, "all teachers have been properly appointed", the spokesman said, and the union now has 11 full-time teachers in the school.
The North Dublin school's numbers have fallen from 185 to 147 since last year. Shahzad Ahmed said this was in part due to the reaction to an earlier article critical of the school, published in the Metro Éireann newspaper in August this year, which stated the school was being investigated by the Department "for possible misappropriation of funds and improper appointment practices".
Shahzad Ahmed was previously the chairman of the board of management of the Clonskeagh school, which has received very positive reports from the Department of Education and was described by INTO as having "a very good record".