Learning a painful lesson
THE Government's erratic response to the weather emergency has continued with the abrupt closure of all national and secondary schools until next Thursday.
It is the correct decision, given the risk to life and limb presented by icy conditions, to which staff in A&E departments around the country will testify.
The minister is, quite sensibly, placing the safety of students, teachers and parents above any inconvenience that may be caused.
However, the move puts into perspective the claims of ministers, after three weeks of deteriorating conditions, that the crisis -- and, for many, it is the crisis of their lives -- did not warrant the attentions of central government.
Until the middle of this week, there has been a failure to acknowledge that the persistent ice and snow created problems more grave than slippery roads and footpaths, although these are mightily serious in themselves.
No, for weeks now, because of the freeze, there have been problems escalating to a national level, with transport, health, education and rural isolation, and the cost, in human and monetary terms, of not addressing them more promptly, will become apparent in time.
Where the schools are concerned, it will be interesting to see if teachers, angry over pay cuts, will cooperate with the minister's request that the tuition time lost be made up at the February mid-term break.
Until now, the minister has left it to schools' boards of management to decide whether to close or not. A hands-off approach has been the general ministerial strategy.