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Eamon Ryan defends decision not to inform Cabinet about Leaving Cert error

The controversy was described as a “shambles” in the Dáil today.

Had sketchy information been released to the public before yesterday, it would not have benefited, says Ryan.
Had sketchy information been released to the public before yesterday, it would not have benefited, says Ryan.
Image: RollingNews.ie

EAMON RYAN HAS defended not informing Cabinet ministers about the Leaving Cert errors detected when they met on Tuesday, despite being fully briefed on the issues the night before. 

Cabinet comes to discuss matters “when there is decision to be made”, he said, stating that it was important to get all the facts and figures correct. 

It emerged yesterday that bout 7,200 Leaving Cert grades have been affected by the errors in the Leaving Cert calculated grades system.

Education Minister Norma Foley made the announcement after it was revealed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin earlier today that two errors were identified in the system, one identified by private company Polymetrica and the second by Department of Education officials.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson Donnacha O’Laoghaire said Foley knew of the error but said nothing at Cabinet or as students accepted offers on Tuesday.

Ryan confirmed that he was only fully briefed as to what the error was on Monday evening.

Party leaders, including Leo Varadkar, were told some issue or problem had arisen with the Leaving Cert on Friday, but no further details were given at the time.

The full details of the error were not disclosed until the leaders meeting on Monday.

Ryan said that on Friday party leaders were only given an “initial sense” of where the difficulty might be.

“I was fully informed or fully briefed then on the Monday in advance for leaders meeting,” he said

Had the information been released to the public sooner than yesterday, Ryan said the consequences would be that thousands of students would be left in “real anguish and uncertainty”.

O’ Laoghaire said not only had Leaving Certificate students been kept in the dark, but that it appeared that Cabinet ministers had also been kept in the dark.

“This is not academic, this affects the lives and futures of students,” he told the Dail.

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He described the issue as a “shambles” and that what was needed now was an “absolute guarantee” that every student who missed out on a college course would now be offered a place.

Ryan said he spoke to Higher Education Minister Simon Harris extensively about the issues of concern this morning. Last night, Harris estimated around 1,000 additional college spaces will have to be found.

He defended the company the department hired to develop the code, stating the person is “eminently qualified as a person who worked previously with Statistics Canada, Canadian statistics body, but also had specific expertise with regards to the Irish academic system because it worked they’d done here in assessing our Pisa results (OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment)”.

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