Taoiseach confirms schools will 'open fully' next month

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said schools across the country will "open fully" by the end of the...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.35 24 Jul 2020

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Taoiseach confirms schools wil...

Taoiseach confirms schools will 'open fully' next month

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.35 24 Jul 2020

Share this article

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said schools across the country will "open fully" by the end of the August.

A plan on the safe return to the classroom is being published on Monday, after ministers agree on it at a Cabinet meeting.

Schools have been shut since March 12th due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


But speaking on Friday after meeting Education Minister Norma Foley, Mr Martin said: "A very comprehensive set of measures that will enable schools to open fully - but also in a resilient and robust way".

There are still no details on what the plan to re-open schools will involve, or how social distancing will be addressed in classrooms.

However Minister Foley said schools will be back to normal for the new term.

"The objective is a full re-opening of the schools, yes indeed - all students on campus, all teachers on campus".

Earlier Mr Martin  told Newstalk Breakfast: "My priority is - as leader and a former Minister for Education and teacher - is to get the schools re-open.

"It's vital for the children, their own self-development - and we know if children are out of school for too long you can limit their life chances".

"A lot of work has gone into this and a plan is coming together, and I think we're in a strong position and a good position to achieve that objective".

"I'm confident that we will have the schools re-opened, we will make a comprehensive announcement early next week in relation to this."

On the July stimulus package announced on Thursday, he said: "There is no doubt that COVID-19 has represented a severe hit to not just the Irish economy, but to the European economy, to the global economy and it has created a great degree of uncertainty in terms of the future.

"[It] also has impacted on particular sectors in terms of originally shutting down whole sectors of the economy.

"But there is an awful lot we can do - because we had a strong economy, we have strong enterprise in this country coming into this pandemic - and the objective is to make sure that we can keep as many businesses intact throughout this virus and the lifetime of this virus.

"And that's what the stimulus package is focused in on.

"And if you take the €30bn deficit by the end of the year, you're looking at about 18% of our GNI will be spent or borrowed in terms of combating this particular virus and the impact of it on our economy".

Taoiseach confirms schools will 'open fully' next month

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Referencing the EU COVID-19 recovery package agreed earlier this week, he said: "All over the world, unprecedented injections of funding is being put in to keep economies going during a very severe global pandemic - the first in 100 years.

"So yes it is very challenging, it's very worrying, and what we've tried to do is to give hope and confidence to people by - for example - the extension of the employment wage subsidy, the extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, commercial rates relief, the taxation reliefs for businesses in terms of setting losses this year against profits last year, the labour activation measures giving young people opportunities in education and training.

"Some of that is about re-orientating the economy as well and creating opportunities for people to avail of jobs in areas that are growing."

"We can't just sort of look in despair at the virus and say 'there's nothing we can do', there's an awful lot we can do.

"We can do a lot of capital works which we're doing in schools, in transport, with new cycle ways and green ways."

Asked why there was no cut specifically for the hospitality sector in the stimulus plan, he said: "This is a July job stimulus, there is a budget coming forward.

"But effectively we wanted to try and concentrate resources on actually getting spend."

"I'm not going to preempt the budget, I think in fairness to both the Minister for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure they will now begin work on that immediately."

On the green list, he denied there have been confusing messages to the public.

"The amount of travel in and out of the country has collapsed.

"We need to keep the debate in perspective, and we have to learn to live with COVID-19.

"I think the first message of the new Government was reflected in the decision to pause the roadmap in relation to phase four.

"We got information from the Chief Medical Officer, we acted on it.

"We also made masks compulsory on public transport and the public complied with that very quickly.

"That message I think has worked in terms of concentrating the mind on dangers of this virus and the degree to which it is ever present".

"I think there was a lot of hype around it if I'm honest, I think we do have to careful about travel of course".

Additional reporting: Shane Beatty

Main image: Taoiseach Micheál Martin talks at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Dublin Castle. Picture by: Julien Behal

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