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Foley accused of breaching code by not telling Dáil about results delay

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Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Frank McGrath

Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Frank McGrath

Education Minister Norma Foley. Photo: Frank McGrath

Education Minister Norma Foley has been accused of breaching the ministerial code after she failed to tell the Dáil last week that the Leaving Cert results would be delayed until September 7.

Ms Foley was asked by the Ceann Comhairle to explain why she did not disclose the delay in issuing results when she was directly asked about it in the Dáil last Thursday - but then confirmed it in a press statement issued by the Department of Education a short time later. Labour TD Aodhan Ó Ríordáin, who had asked Ms Foley in the Dáil, said her failure to disclose the delay was in breach of the code of conduct for office holders and has formally complained to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, asking that the matter be investigated.

"A failure to respond to a direct question by providing the information which the minister must already have known must, I believe, amount to a breach of the minister's obligations to the House," he wrote. "I do believe that the minister failed in her constitutional duty and her obligations under standing orders to make herself properly accountable to the Dáil."

A spokeswoman for Mr Ó Fearghaíl said: "On receipt of the complaint the Ceann ­Comhairle wrote to the minister seeking her comments."

Ms Foley's spokesperson said she had already addressed the issues raised by Mr Ó Riordáin and is in "ongoing communication with him and other Opposition colleagues".

The minister told RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland' last Friday that as a "matter of professionalism and courtesy" she wanted to inform the parents, teachers, students and school managerial bodies first.

Meanwhile, Ms Foley told a briefing of Opposition spokespeople yesterday that there would be clarity on the plans to reopen schools in August and September before July 31.

TDs were also informed that the Department of Education will centrally procure all protective equipment and screens for schools to enforce social distancing measures.

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said there were "no clear answers" arising from the meeting.

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon added: "It's really ­difficult to be optimistic about how schools are going to operate with any sense of normality come autumn with such confusion emanating from the department."

The minister's spokesperson said she had "set out her determination to make sure schools will open in the autumn and explained some of the steps that are being taken to make that happen".

Irish Independent