McHugh to face Dáil questions on Leaving Cert cancellation


Education Minister Joe McHugh will face Dáil questions on the cancellation of the Leaving Cert on Wednesday.

Mr McHugh announced that the exams would be cancelled and replaced with a predicted grades system last Friday. However, Labour Party whip Duncan Smith wrote to the Dáil Business Committee requesting that the session be brought forward to Tuesday. That proved impossible as the newly-formed Dáil Covid Committee has the chamber booked, so Mr McHugh will instead address the chamber on Wednesday.

Mr Smith said he was glad to see the issue take precedence on Wednesday.

“I’m glad that it will be the first issue heard this week and that it won’t take place after Leaders’ Questions, when some of the energy of the chamber has been used up.

“I think if you look at the way this has been handled, with the date of the Leaving Cert being announced on an Instagram stream, then it’s important that parties are given the chance to ask questions.”

Fianna Fáil education spokesperson Thomas Byrne said that he was happy to have the chance to ask questions on the issue and was currently seeking clarity on whether the government’s plan would have any unforeseen consequences.

“It’s been clear for weeks that this couldn’t go ahead. They never had any idea how they were going to do it. Added to that, you have the mental health pressure that it put on students. But there was a feeling that they felt that it was the same as cancelling Christmas.

“Now it’s a question of making this system as fair as possible and ensuring there are as many third-level places as possible.”

Mr Byrne added that parents of students should be “realistic” and urged them not to lobby schools on teachers for better grades.

Time on Wednesday has also been allocated for questions to Transport Minister Shane Ross and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

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