Wednesday 18 October 2017

O'Keeffe faces storm over closed schools

EDUCATION Minister Batt O'Keeffe faces a furious backlash over his decision to impose a blanket three-day closure on the country's 4,000 schools from today, writes Katherine Donnelly.

As parts of the country experienced the first signs of a thaw yesterday, more than 1,000 primary schools said there was no need for them to shut.

Mr O'Keeffe also faces a battle with schools over making up for the lost days.

The closure leaves 850,000 children sitting at home until Thursday -- forcing thousands of working parents into making last-minute child-minding arrangements.

Economists say the big freeze is costing the economy more than €500m a week -- and retailers are taking the biggest hit during what is normally the busy January sales period.

But forecasters last night downgraded the weather warning and roads in the capital dramatically improved.

Met Eireann has predicted a gradual thaw over the coming days, but it will be next weekend before the roads are expected to be free of ice and snow.

Our picture by Ray McManus shows Sophia Hu, left, with Sophie Fleming, centre, and sister Isabelle, from Castleknock, Dublin, enjoying the snow at the Phoenix Park yesterday.

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