Bruton's disadvantage plan deserves support
Published 18/08/2016 | 02:30
The Leaving Cert results are not just important for the 58,000 students who sit the exams each year and their parents; they also offer an insight into the outcomes emerging from our secondary school system.
The level of educational attainment is a matrix by which society is measured. And it must be acknowledged there are some very welcome trends in this year's results.
The number taking higher-level maths is continuing to rise, now reaching 28pc of those sitting the exams. This is important if we are to equip our young people to take up the jobs of the future.
The number taking physics and chemistry has also increased, along with the number taking modern languages, which will help the country to attract and retain those jobs. Furthermore, the number taking higher-level Irish is up, which bodes well for the development of our native language.
Nonetheless, there are still causes for concern, such as the gap between those studying higher-level maths and weaker students. The failure rate at ordinary level will raise questions about whether the focus on maths is delivering for all students or just those at the top.
Writing in today's Irish Independent, Richard Bruton pledges to make tackling disadvantage a major theme of his term in office. He plans to focus above all on improving educational outcomes for these children.
Mr Bruton's plans to put together an Action Plan to Tackle Educational Disadvantage are deserving of credit and support from across the political and educational system.
Education is a means to raise the tide and lift all boats, so it is vital that it serves all social classes.
Our Olympic shame is a dark day for Irish sport
The arrest of Pat Hickey, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president, is the nadir of the history of Ireland's participation in the Games.
Hickey deserves to see due process being observed. And he is entitled to receive the consular assistance of the Irish Embassy in Brazil.
Nonetheless, the OCI has failed to provide satisfactory answers in response to the litany of questions arising from the allegations of touting.
The Rio police are rightly adopting a no-nonsense approach to the scourge of ticket-touting, where tickets are taken out of the hands of genuine fans and sold to the highest bidder. If only the authorities in Europe would adopt a similar stance, families and fans wouldn't be priced out of attending sports events.
Hickey faces charges of facilitating ticket-touting, formation of a cartel and ambush marketing. He has stood aside from his various Irish, European and International Olympic Committee roles.
The lack of respect shown to the Government and the disregard for public opinion at home is at odds with the moral and financial support given to our country's athletes.
After dedicating their lives to their chosen sport with the dream of displaying their talents on the world's greatest sporting stage, those selfless sports stars deserve better. The focus at Rio 2016 should solely be on dedicated medal-winners such as Gary and Paul O'Donovan and Annalise Murphy. Instead, the spotlight is on the grubby dealing of tickets in a hotel room. It's a dark day for Irish sport.