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O'Keeffe trapped by vagaries of weather

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EDUCATION Minister Batt O'Keeffe's decision to close schools until Thursday this week caused outrage among Fine Gael and the media.

However, that decision was clearly based on the weather forecast at the time, a forecast which predicted continuing severe weather for up to another 10 days.

Fine Gael and the media are now turning on the minister for taking decisive action based on what was a 'doomsday' forecast on Friday last. A decision clearly had to be taken so that parents could plan alternative childcare, work and travel arrangements for the week ahead.

Only last week, the Government was being criticised for not reacting to the roads situation until 20 days after the icy weather had begun and thus leaving local authorities to handle the situation on their own.

Clearly, if the minister had not taken a decision on schools and had continued to leave the situation up in the air over the weekend, the Government would have been accused of passing the buck to school boards of management.

The weather forecast turned out to be inaccurate and the minister has now reacted to the changing situation, saying that schools can open from today if individual circumstances allow it.

It is clear that no matter what decision is taken at this stage, the media or the opposition will find fault with it. No one knew the weather would improve over the weekend, not even Met Eireann, so how was Batt O'Keeffe to know better? All he could do was react to the information he had at the time.

William J Henry

Arva, Co Cavan

PEOPLE often complain that our ministers are indecisive, that they dither and try to "park" problems in the hope that they will go away.

My opinion, however, is quite different.

When our ministers do make decisions, they are invariably the wrong ones. They are either too early or too late, too inadequate, or they're ridiculous knee-jerk overreactions (the sparkling performance of our dear Minister for Education is a case in point) and sometimes they're plain stupid.

So, bearing all that in mind, I think we'd all be far better off if they never made any decisions at all.

Jonathan Baum

Blackrock, Co Dublin

Irish Independent