Monday 19 August 2019

Red alert: All schools in Leinster and Munster to remain closed on Thursday and Friday, government confirms

Snow scenes in Tallaght.
Snow scenes in Tallaght.

Kevin Doyle, Katherine Donnelly and John Downing

ALL schools and colleges in Leinster and Munster are to remain closed on Thursday and Friday, the Department of Education has confirmed.

Officials have decided to close schools and colleges in the two provinces for safety reasons as freezing conditions continue to grip Ireland.

Met Eireann has a issued a Status Red alert for both provinces to begin on Thursday at 4pm and end at noon on Friday.

Schools in Connacht and Ulster will be make individual decisions, depending on the circumstances in their area, and the situation in those two provinces will be kept under review.

Brothers Bogdan [4] and Roberto [5] Tentiue pictured with their little sister Patrice [2] [ from Rathfarnham] enjoy the snow in the Dublin Mountains.Picture:Frank Mc Grath
Brothers Bogdan [4] and Roberto [5] Tentiue pictured with their little sister Patrice [2] [ from Rathfarnham] enjoy the snow in the Dublin Mountains.Picture:Frank Mc Grath

The decision was announced after a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordinating Group today.

Education Minister Richard Bruton minister came in for criticism from political opponents for not issuing advice to close schools earlier.

The schools forced to close by the severe weather conditions may have to make up the days later in the school year.

It could affect the Easter holidays, or any mini-breaks that a school had planned to take in coming months.

It depends on how much time has been lost and whether the school can address the shortfalls in any other way, such as by cancelling a tour or other non-tuition activities.

Some schools may be facing three days closure this week because of the snow,  bringing their total loss of time in the current year to a week.

In October,  Storm Ophelia caused  a two-day nationwide shutdown of the education system, and some schools may also have closed in December because of weather in their area.

After Storm Ophelia, education sources indicated that there would be no requirement on schools to replace those days,  however,  it is unclear whether a harder line will be taken in light of the cumulative effect of weather-related events.

Birds in the snow. Photo credit: Dave Keegan Photography
Birds in the snow. Photo credit: Dave Keegan Photography
Dog shaking off the snow. Photo credit: Dave Keegan Photography
Monkstown Beach captured in the snow. Pic: Stephen O'Rourke
Daisey the dog [4] plays in the snow at St Mary's quadrangle at Maynooth University. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
People walk along a snow covered road in Maynooth. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
Jaspret Kaur at the Irish War Memorial Gardens. Pic: Jaspreet Kaur
Man and girl take shelter during a snow flurry in Maynooth. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
Five year old Jane Argue from Maynooth plays in the snow at St Mary's quadrangle at Maynooth University. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
A lady clears the footpath outside her shop in Maynooth. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
Dawn Byrne from Wexford photographs the snow at St Mary's quadrangle at Maynooth University. Picture Credit:Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
Denis Hogan from Kildare County Council spreads some grit on the footpaths in Maynooth . Picture Credit:Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
Sheep at Huntstown Co Dublin keeping an eye out for the ‘Beast from the East’ . Pic: Steve Humphreys 28th February 2018
A raven finds the snow a little deeper than anticipated in Dunboyne. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath 28/2/18
A road sign that says it all as the ‘Beast from the East’ moves in. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th February 2018
Geese enjoy the winter conditions at Shankill Castle and Gardens in Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny. Picture: Tony Gavin 28/2/2018
Snow falls on rooftops in Kilkenny City. Picture: Tony Gavin 28/2/2018
Snow falls on Kilkenny Castle during blizzard conditions in Kilkenny City. Picture: Tony Gavin 28/2/2018
Snow falls on a hurling statue during blizzard conditions in Kilkenny City. Picture: Tony Gavin 28/2/2018
Ducks on a frozen pond in Rathcoole, Co. Dublin. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 28/2/2018
Pip enjoying the snow in Mullingar. Sent in by Sighle Fitzgerald
The military graveyard at the Curragh in Kildare. Pic sent in by Susan Coffey
28 Feb 2018: Dog enjoys the snow. Lanesborough Park, Finglas, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
28 Feb 2018: Tylor Buckley, 12, enjoys the snow in Lanesborough Park, Finglas, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
(L-R) Ethan Gray, Tom Eagers, 2, Olivia Gray, 7 and Caroline Gray, enjoying the snow in Rathcoole, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: Damien Eagers 28/2/2018
Allie and Ciall Flynn enjoying the snow and the day off school in Slane, Co Meath. Picture By David Conachy.
Enjoying the snow and the day off school in Slane, Co Meath. Picture By David Conachy.
Sisters Rhianna and Jodie Binns with their dog ‘Milo’ walking through the snow in Donabate. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th February 2018
Fiachra O’Mahony and his dog “Millie’ out for a walk along the sea at Portrane North Co. Dublin. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th February 2018
Maria Connor from Portrane out playing in the snow with her Springer Spaniel Cross dogs ‘Lucky’ and ‘Toffee’. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th February 2018
Fiachra O’Mahony and his dog “Millie’ out for a walk along the sea at Portrane North Co.Dublin. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th February 2018.
Young boys having fun with a giant snowball in Donabate. Pic Steve Humphreys 28th February 2018
Ballyedmonduff, Dublin Mountains Photo: Lisa Doyle
Glendalough, Co Wicklow Photo: Cillian Ó Gairbhí
Trim Castle Photo: Conor O'Mahony
Drumcondra this morning Photo: Krishna
Greystones, Co Wicklow
Mullingar, Co Westmeath
Oscar enjoying his first experience of snow at the Community Park in Carrigaline Co. Cork Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
Lucan, Dublin
Carlow
Wicklow
Snow Day....Lindsey O'Byrne and her Partner Shane Satelle with their Children Scott(7),Robyn(4) and Hallie (2) enjoying the snow in Tallaght Picture: Kyran O'Brien
Swans swim on the frozen Grand Canal in Sallins, Co. Kildare Picture: Tony Gavin 28/2/2018
Nutgrove, Dublin
Dagmara Jakkububowicz from Carrigaline walks her dog Bubu around the pond in the Community Park in Carrigaline Co. Cork Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
Templemore, Co Tipperary
The Curragh
Glendalough, Co Wicklow Photo: Cillian Ó Gairbhí
Glendalough, Co Wicklow Photo: Cillian Ó Gairbhí
The Irish War Memorial Park Photo: Emma Fenlon (Dublin)
A man on his way to work walks through Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Phoenix Park, Dublin
Having fun in North Dublin as storm Emma hits Ireland Pic:Mark Condren
Dublin Airport
Commuters make their way in the snow in Lucan, Co. Dublin this morning Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Poolbeg
Commuters make their way in the snow in Lucan, Co. Dublin this morning Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar insisted that a “red alert” cannot be an automatic trigger to close down schools.

He was responding to criticisms from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during a Dáil debate on the authorities’ response to the extreme weather. Mr Martin said parents and pupils were entitled to more clarity and school management needed more support to decide on closure.

The Taoiseach rejected the call and also defended the handling of allocating an extra week’s fuel allowance worth €22.50 announced today to the surprise of some. Mr Varadkar said he had not rejected this idea of extra fuel money on Tuesday but had promised to consider the issue with Social Protection Minister, Regina Doherty.

Mr Martin said there should be an automatic school closure in areas covered by the highest status “red alert” weather warnings.

“We would reduce the risk of accidents and traffic congestion,” Mr Martin told the Dáil.

The Fianna Fáil leader said he was trying to be as constructive as possible but he noted that there was widespread disruption and the threat of worse. He urged that Ireland learn from the experience of other countries which cope with far worse weather excesses.

“The entire country is coming to a halt, despite all the warnings, after one evening’s snow,” Mr Martin said.

The Taoiseach said that it was a matter for the National Coordinating Committee which included representatives of the Education Department. Mr Vradkar said some schools were not dependent on public transport.

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