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'We're not the ones making that decision': Tony Holohan refuses to be drawn on whether Leaving Cert will happen

The Leaving Cert has been postponed from its usual June period to late July or early August.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER Dr. Tony Holohan has said that the decision on whether the Leaving Cert will go ahead at the end of July is not his or his team’s to make.

Speaking this evening, Holohan said that health officials provide information around the potential spread of infection in the future and that other departments take appropriate decisions based on that. 

He said, however, that the further into the future you look the less certain the virus modelling becomes. 

On Friday it was announced that the Leaving Cert was to be postponed from its usual June period to late July or early August. The Junior Cert was cancelled entirely. 

Despite the change, some students have been expressing concern that the exams will not ultimately go ahead and that they are being left in limbo.

A survey by The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union has previously found that the preferred option for Leaving Cert students is a cancellation of the state exams. 

Asked this evening about the likelihood of whether the exams could go ahead in late July and the advice provided that made the government decide to press ahead with a later Leaving Cert, Holohan said his team will continue provide advice about the virus for the new planned examination dates. 

“The environment that we’re in at the moment is an uncertain one in terms of let’s say, the further you go into the future, in terms of the modeling, the less certain that we are in terms of the spread of the virus and the scale of the infection and so on. 

So we would have talked to the Department of Education, giving a real sense certainly in terms of what we expect to see around transmission of this virus in the weeks and months ahead. Particularly from now to the point at which the Leaving Cert would have taken place. That we really were expecting to see a continued spread of the infection during that time period.

“But we stay in touch with them because this is an uncertain situation for everybody,” Holohan added. 

Pushed about whether the Leaving Cert would go ahead in late July, Holohan said it’s up to his team to advise but not make an ultimate decision.  

“We’re not the ones making that decision, we provide the information in terms of the public health evidence around the spread of infection. And that helps other sectors to make decisions that are appropriate to those sectors,” he said. 

“The decision around the Leaving Cert and the timing of of that is a decision for the Minister of Education and the Department of Education.”

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Rónán Duffy

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