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Micheal Martin says 'we need clarity' on Leaving Cert amid coronavirus crisis

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Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mícheál Martin has criticised the Government's lack of clarity around this year's Leaving Certificate in their roadmap which he claimed contradicts social distancing restrictions and could add to students' anxiety.

The roadmap was unveiled by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday and named August 10 as the date when large gatherings will be allowed.

Under the Government's five stage plan, schools and colleges are set to reopen in September. Later on Friday evening, after announcing the plan, the caretaker Taoiseach said that Leaving Certificate exams are still set to take place in July.

Students, he said, will have two weeks of class time before that date to prepare.

Mr Martin said that this plan is contradictory to Public Health advice, and the social distancing restrictions laid out as part of the road map.

"I think we need clarity and detailed clarity in relation to the Leaving Certificate," he said.

"I think it's omission is quite striking because there's huge anxiety out there for students, teachers and parents but above all the young students who don't know really what the position is."

As his party engages in government formation talks with Fine Gael, the Cork TD said that he has been excluded from the conversation around the recommencement of the school year and the facilitation of state examinations for Leaving Certificate students.

Speaking on Prime Time on Tuesday night, the Fianna Fáil leader denied that his party are adding to uncertainty around whether the exams will go ahead.

He said that a comment from his party's Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne, calling for the exams to be cancelled, was made because holding the exams in July would contradict other restrictions laid out in the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

"We haven't really been brought into the inner workings in terms of what the state exam Commission and the department are planning, and I think the its absence really from the roadmap has proved a catalyst for Thomas Byrne's recent statement on this because, even as late as this afternoon I'm speaking to school principals and students and the problem with the roadmap is one gets the sense that holding the exams is not consistent with public health advice.

"What we're saying essentially to the Government is, 'you need to come clean on this you need to make a comprehensive statement'," he said.

"An alternative should come forward. Because the roadmap has been published and there's a clear timeframe there, it seems to us very difficult to see and understand how it's compatible with the advice from Public Health officials."

Online Editors