Friday 15 November 2019

Cabinet frozen by indecision

LAST Friday the Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe ordered all primary and second-level schools to close until Thursday. At the time, about one-third of the schools were still open and the principals and boards of management believed that, notwithstanding the exceptional weather conditions, pupils could attend without danger or inconvenience.

Mr O'Keeffe hoped that teachers could make up the days lost at half-term or the end of the school year. But teachers have now resisted this proposition. It would be difficult at any time to make the arrangements, and at present they are in a militant mood. Clearly the minister should have hesitated, at least long enough to engage in consultations.

A wider point, however, will be taken into consideration by the Government's critics. Did its "emergency response co-ordination committee" think that the closure decree would give the impression of decisive action, which has been so spectacularly lacking in the Government's response to the freeze-up?

Certainly we are experiencing an unusual weather event, but it should never have been permitted to have such disproportionate effects on our economic life and so many aspects of our normal lives.

The ill-judged manner in which the Government has responded, coupled with its lackadaisical attitude to the misery caused by the recent floods, from whose consequences so many people still suffer, does not inspire faith in its ability to face any problem bigger than a spell of cold weather.

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