The newly appointed Education Minister is facing criticism from the Opposition following one of her first moves as minister being the approval of a grant for a school in her constituency.
Fianna Fáil's Norma Foley sent a tweet yesterday announcing emergency funding for Dromclough National School, Listowel, in Co Kerry, "so that they can carry out Universal Access Works". Her tweet was sharply criticised by education spokespeople in Opposition parties.
"I appreciate that she is a TD for Kerry, obviously she has to represent her constituents but I think it is tone deaf to put that up in lights as a major first step when there are so many major challenges facing the departments," said Cork Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire.
"I'm sure the school was a very worthy recipient. I would have liked the Minister for Education to be a minister for every child, every parent, every school in the State and not just for Kerry."
His sentiments were echoed by Labour's education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin. "It's not appropriate," he said. "I think it was an ill-advised thing for her to do and an ill-advised statement for her to make.
"Clearly, a week in, we have a number of issues already with this new minister for education. That is not the statement you want to hear from her."
When contacted by the Irish Independent, Ms Foley asked for a call back to discuss the initiative further.
She did not return calls and a statement was later issued by a department spokesperson. "The project at Drumclough National School is an Emergency Works Scheme project for Universal Access works in this school," it said. "All school building programme applications are considered and approved by a technical team within the department. Where a minister or other public representatives enquire about the project, they are informed after a decision is made."
It said six other schools this week received approval for emergency work.
There's a theory doing the rounds in Fine Gael that Leo Varadkar may not be intending to lead the party into the next general election. Suspicious minds believe the newly appointed Tánaiste is paving the way for his exit in the latter half of his tenure in the Taoiseach's Office once Micheál Martin hands over the keys.