Eamon Ryan believes Leaving Cert exam will go ahead

The Transport Minister also warned people not to book foreign holidays this summer as he believes travel will not fully reopen before the end of the year
Eamon Ryan believes Leaving Cert exam will go ahead

Green party leader Eamon Ryan said: 'We will be able, in my mind, to do a written Leaving Cert.'

Green party leader Eamon Ryan remains hopeful that the traditional Leaving Certificate exam will go ahead this year.

However, the Transport Minister has warned people not to book foreign holidays this summer as he believes travel will not fully reopen before the end of the year.

It comes as Cabinet is expected to sign off on a raft of new measures and restrictions on travel this morning.

However, it is not expected that any decisions will be made on a reopening of schools at today's crunch meeting, as Education Minister Norma continues discussions with teaching unions and other representative bodies.

Asked if the State exams will take place, Mr Ryan said: "The first priority is getting special needs students back but the second priority is getting Leaving Cert students back in school, and we will be able, in my mind, to do a written Leaving Cert."

He said the Leaving Cert is "the fairest system" and it would be good for the mental health of students to hold it.

I think it's unlikely that there will be a complete opening up of travel

Mr Ryan said new quarantine measures expected to be approved by Government, which will apply to those who arrive without a PCR test and people coming from particular countries, will "take a number of weeks to put in place".

He said there had been around a 90% fall in the numbers of people travelling over the last nine months since the pandemic.

Mr Ryan added that Nphet had been asked about the possibility of moving to a zero-Covid approach, however, they advised that this is "unworkable".

He warned people against booking foreign holidays this summer, adding that most international travel will be stopped for the remainder of the year.

"Even if we get completely vaccinated - and please God we get that kind of cover - we live in a world where this virus is rampant and variants will come. In those circumstances, I think it's unlikely that there will be a complete opening up of travel.

"I don't think we're going to be flying in anything like the numbers we would have historically, there may be exceptions to that, but the vast majority of ordinary flights are not going to take off," Mr Ryan told Newstalk Breakfast.

Meanwhile, school principal Colm O’Rourke has called for Leaving Cert students and teachers to be vaccinated early so that a traditional State exam could go ahead this year.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr O’Rourke said that vaccinating these two cohorts would provide a simple solution to the Leaving Cert issue.

Most people would agree that teachers were essential workers, he said. One million people depending on schools to reopen made a very strong case for teachers to be vaccinated early, he said.

“If the Leaving Cert is so important that it gets so much airtime, I think it is only reasonable to say the Leaving Cert cohort should be vaccinated along with the teachers.” Mr O’Rourke said that his proposal would allow students and teachers to prepare for the Leaving Cert with “no more publicity needed” in the coming weeks.

The principal of St Patrick’s Classical School in Navan said the calculated grades system that replaced last year’s exam should not be used again.

After the problems last year, predicted grades were not the way forward, he said. 

“I speak as a principal who had plenty of problems with it. Predicted grades are not the way forward and it has caused so many problems, not the least of which is a string of cases in the High Court.”

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