Tag Archives: Norma Foley

Minister for Education Norma Foley addressing the Dáil tonight

This evening.

Minister for Education Norma Foley made a statement to the Dáil about the two code errors, out of 50,000 lines of code, in the Leaving Certificate calculated grades system which have resulted in thousands of students getting incorrect results.

She said it’s possible that 6,500 students were wrongly given lower results than they should have received, while potentially another 6,500 students may have been given higher results than they should have received.

The errors were detected by a Canadian firm involved in the process, Polymetrika International Inc.

Ms Foley explained:

“The system was meant to take a number of factors into account in computing the Leaving Certificate results. Among these were the results of the students’ junior cycle examinations which were considered at an aggregated class level.

“It is important to say that the junior cycle results of individuals were not being used to predict or influence their Leaving Certificate result. The data was to be used at an aggregated class level.

“The system was meant to draw on the core subjects of Irish, English and Maths and combine them with the students’ two best non-core subjects.

“The coding error, instead, combined them with the students’ two weakest non-core subjects.

“In the course of the review, the Calculated Grades Executive Office immediately undertook on Friday, staff found a further error in the code…

“The results of the subjects Civic Social and Political Education, CSPE, were meant to be disregarded by the system. They weren’t. They had been included in error.”


While we do not yet have the final figures and we won’t have final figures until the independent review, which is underway, has been completed, our checks to date indicate that the error has affected approximately 7,200 grades.

“There were over 400,000 calculated grades in total issued on September 7.

As a result of both errors, approximately 6,500 students received at least one result which was one grade lower than they should have. That is being rectified.

“In addition to the students who have received a lower grade then they should have in this year’s Leaving Certificate, some students received a higher grade. They will not be affected in any way. Their grades stand.

“Those who have received a lower grade will have a proper grade restored. When all the checks are completed, we’ll ensure the corrected results to the students affected, we will issue the corrected results to the students affected.

“As soon as it is possible to do so, every student will be contacted by text message and informed whether they are impacted or not.”


Rise TD Mick Barry had the following exchange with Ms Foley.

Mick Barry: “In addition to the students who received a lower grade than they should have in this year’s Leaving Certificate, some students received a higher grade. How many?”

Norma Foley: “It, as I have said previously, it is difficult to know the finite number of students until all the checks and reviews and balances have been put in place. But in terms of the students, as you have referenced, who will go up by at least one grade, we are estimating at this point, that we are talking about approximately 6,500 students and that is an estimate at this stage.

“So I can only estimate, that when students go up, you’re perhaps talking about a similar number but again I’m not a statistician and I wouldn’t have that information fully available to you until the review is complete…”

Barry: “Sure, I’ll…I’m not expecting an exact figure. But just to be clear, so, when you say that in addition to the students who received a lower grade, some students received a higher grade, you think that as many as 6,500 students could have received a higher grade?

Foley:I can’t say that definitively to you, deputy but I’m going to assume that if the estimate is that number will go up by one grade, there is every chance that we might be talking about a similar number…”

Watch live here

Taoiseach, Micheál Martin (left) and Minister for Education Norma Foley

This morning.


Via RTÉ:

Ms Foley is set to make a statement in the Dáil today about errors discovered in this year’s Leaving Certificate calculated grades process.

The full impact of the mistake, and the exact number of students affected, will only be known when a second review of all marks awarded is completed.

Universities have warned that they do not have the capacity to offer places to all students who may receive a new CAO offer on foot of upgraded Leaving Certificate results.

Among the questions unanswered as yet: when will the students who have been affected be told?

Minister admits some students may have to defer college place (RTÉ)

Yesterday: The New Norma



Minister for Education Norma Foley

This afternoon.

Further to Gradesgate

The Sinn Féin spokesperson for education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called on Education Minister Norma Foley to make a statement in the Dáil on errors which have been spotted in the calculated grades system.

He also said that she should take questions from TDs following her statement.

“The Minister for Education needs to come before the Dáil urgently, make a statement and answer the many serious questions that now arise.

“According to the Taoiseach, the government knew about these errors last week. The second round of CAO offers went out last Wednesday. Did the government allow the second round offers to proceed knowing that these problems existed?” he asked.

He said that 800 and 900 students may have lost out of their college place due to the errors.

Sinn Féin calls on Norma Foley to make Dáil statement (Independent.ie)

Earlier: The Errors ‘Affect Around 10% Of This Year’s 61,000 Leaving Certificate Students’


This afternoon.

Leinster House, Dublin 2.

Minister for Education Norma Foley (top left) is confronted by a group of publicans from Kerry, wearing their county jerseys, who are protesting against the continued closure of Irish pubs during lockdown.

This morning, NPHET”s guidelines for so-called ‘wet pubs’ to follow were revealed:

This includes a ban on any live music or dancing. Public health experts also recommended that TV volume must be turned down low to ensure people are not forced to speak over it.

International research has shown the virus spreads more quickly among people who are raising their voices – such as those attending sporting events or in other crowded situations.

Nphet also said some pubs may need to introduce extra toilets facilities to allow for social distancing.

Revealed: No music and TV volume turned down low – the new rules for pubs (Independent.ie)

Yesterday: Rejoice

Leah Farrell/Rollingnew


On me cap, son.

Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae joins the attacking Kerry forwards.

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

Law student Roman Shortall was stopped by Gardai at Dublin Airport; Garda statement on the incident

This afternoon.

Liveline on RTÉ Radio One.




From top: Fianna Fáil Minister for Education Norma Foley (left), Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Fine Gael Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan; Ms Foley and Mr Martin; Minister for Employment and Social Protection Heather Humpheys

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Education Minister Norma Foley was asked about the stopping of Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment and jobseekers’ allowance payments to recipients who travel abroad on holidays.

Ms Foley was specifically asked “where did this come from? Was that brought to Cabinet at any point?” She was also asked if the legal change was notified to Cabinet.

She replied:

“No, I’m not aware of it having been brought to Cabinet.”

Meanwhile, last night…

Virgin Media One’s Gavan Reilly reported on comments made by Taoiseach Micheál Martin about the payment cuts as a result of checks having taken place at airports, as reported in the Business Post at the weekend and the Irish Daily Star on July 2.

It followed a bizarre sequence of events including a change to the Gov.ie website where the criteria for claiming the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was adjusted to include that people had to be “genuinely seeking work” to receive the PUP.

As a payment for people whose work has been suspended due to Covid-19 this stipulation of having to seek work appears to have been added to the list very recently.

(As recently as July 14, the Minister for Employment and Social Protection Heather Humphreys didn’t list this “genuinely seeking work” rule in a written answer about the PUP to Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming. In the same answer, she listed all the other criteria.)

In addition, the Irish version of the Gov.ie site doesn’t include this added condition of recipients having to be seeking work.

Curiously, on Sunday, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had told RTE that people receiving PUP had to be “genuinely seeking work”.

He also said the Department of Employment and Social Protection “gets information from the airports”, a claim denied by the Dublin Airport Authority and one which the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon is now examining.

Mr Martin said he was seeking a report on the apparent change of policy regarding PUP recipients, while members of the Dublin Airport Authority are appearing before the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response this morning.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon.

On RTÉ’s News at One.

Minister for Employment and Social Protection Heather Humphreys spoke to Christopher McKevitt about the same matter. During the interview, Ms Humphreys was repeatedly asked if there had been a change in Government advice pertaining to PUP recipients. She continually didn’t answer the question.

Then, at the end of the interview, she said people who work in pubs whose work has been suspended due to Covid-19 don’t have to look for other work in order to receive the PUP.

From the interview…

Christopher McKevitt: “Just in relation to one item from, that emerged from the weekend, the halting of payments for some 104 people arising from their travel plans a Dublin Airport. Can you, as the minister, explain what’s happened there?”

Heather Humphreys: “Yeah well, we are at a crucial stage in relation to dealing with this virus and, as we look across the world, we see other countries re-introducing restrictions and asking people to return to lockdown and the Irish people have sacrificed so much and nobody wants to see us go back.

“In relation to travelling abroad, the public health advice is very clear. Do not travel abroad except for essential reasons and I want to be very clear. If any person intends to travel for essential purposes – for example, for health reasons, for a family bereavement, or for whatever, you know, essential reason, they have to go – you will continue to get your payment.

“And we’re asking and we’re encouraging people to holiday at home this year.”

McKevitt: “Right but…”

Humphreys: “And follow the clear, public health advice so that…and that’s so important in our battle to defeat this virus.”

McKevitt: “Indeed it is but can we just ask you on the specific point about leaving the country. OK, it’s the public health advice, not to leave the country but it is also the tradition that people are entitled to a two-week holiday how so ever they choose to spend that holiday is their own affair. Yes, there is guidance but it’s not enforceable guidance is it? So, so it seems to me that the Government has potentially penalised people on the social welfare code, for making that decision to travel, no matter how distasteful many people may find that decision of theirs to do so.”

Humphreys: “Yeah, well, the public health advice is not to travel abroad and that applies to everyone. So, for example, we have 340,000 public servants in this country and if any one of those chose to travel abroad they will not be paid for the two-week quarantine period when they return and, equally, there’s many private companies [who] have also told their staff that if they choose to go abroad, they will not be paid for the period that they have to quarantine when they come home. So we’re not trying to pick on anybody here. We are doing what is right by the country to protect our people.”

McKevitt: “Has there been a change…minister, minister, minister, sorry to cut across you but has there been a change in the Government.ie advice on receiving, or eligibility to receive the pandemic unemployment payment. Is it now the case that you must be genuinely seeking work? Because there’s quite an amount of activity on social media saying this is a new element that is being introduced to the qualifying guidelines as of this morning?

Humphreys: “Well, as the economy has reopened up again, of course we want people to get back to work and that’s why we’re investing a huge amount of money in trying to get people back to work. But just to be clear, under normal circumstances, there is a flexibility under social welfare legislation whereby a person on jobseekers can travel abroad for up to two weeks and it doesn’t impact their payment. But the point here is that we are not in normal circumstances. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and it is in that context and in order to protect people’s lives…”

McKevitt: “Minister…minister…”

Humphreys: “…that we have temporarily suspended the flexibility that people can continue to receive their unemployment payment when abroad.”

McKevitt:Is there a change in the advice for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment? Let’s remind ourselves. It was for people who’d lost their job as a result of the pandemic or who’d been temporarily laid off because of the Covid-19 pandemic. That was, the expectation, for the 600-thousand-odd people who went on to it was that their job would be restored to them. Now, it seems that there is a new piece of guidance in terms of the eligibility to qualify for the PUP, that you must be genuinely seeking work. Is that the case?

Humphreys: “Yeah, well, you always have, for any unemployment…”

McKevitt: “No…”

Humphreys: “…benefit, you always had to be, you know, to look for work and genuinely be looking for work. But I think the point is being missed here. This is the public health advice, it’s to stay at home, and, and the point is that we should be staying in Ireland and in a couple of months’ time…”

McKevitt: “But is the message, minister, is the message now to the 300,000 or the 286,000 people who are receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, that they, as of this morning, must be genuinely seeking work? Is that the case now?

Humphreys: “Well for some whose industry hasn’t opened back up again, obviously if you work in a pub, you know, you’re looking to get your job back there again. But, for others, they should be looking for work and that’s what most people on PUP want to do, they want to get a job, they don’t want to be on the payment, they want to get back to work. But I just want to be…”

McKevitt: “No, but supposing they’re working for a company that can no longer afford to employ them. Is it the case now that they shouldn’t necessarily be looking forward to returning to their old job but should be seeking new work in a different work environment?

Humphreys: “Well unfortunately, yeah, unfortunately, there are going to be people who won’t be able to go back to their old jobs…”

McKevitt: “And is that new advice as of today?

Humphreys: “Well, no, it’s not new advice. Obviously if you can’t get back to work, you need to, most people want to get back to work, they don’t want to stay on the unemployment payment and that’s why I have extended it. You know, last week, in the jobs stimulus, in relation to the payment, instead of reducing the payment to €203 in August, as originally planned, the Government has decided to take a fair approach and extend the payment until April and that is because we do not want anyone to suffer a cliff-edge reduction in their payment.

“So we’re not telling people you know, that, to stay at home, we want them to come back to work and that’s why we’re investing €200million in back-to-work initiatives and job incentive programmes.”

McKevitt: “If we were to return to phase two, arising from perhaps a second wave, and people had to return, people who had returned to work having received the PUP, were to go back onto the PUP scheme again, would the advice be to genuinely seek work with an alternative employer?

Humphreys: “Well, if, of course, if we go back on to the, you know, if we go backwards, and we hope, we don’t go backwards, that’s the whole point of following the public health advice, that’s the whole point of asking people to stay at home this year, because the safest thing you can do is stay at home. But you’re looking at a situation that may or may not occur.

“But the point is, if you’re on the public, the unemployment benefit at this point in time, if you don’t have a job to go to, then you should be actively looking for other work. And, you know, if your job is no longer there. In the case of some sectors, for example, if you work in a pub, we are hoping that you will be able to go back to your job so you don’t have to be looking for work in that situation. But if you find that you’re going to be permanently unemployed because your job isn’t there then you should be looking for work and that’s why we have invested all of this money in a job activation programme.”

McKevitt: “Many thanks, Minister for Social Protection and Employment Affairs Heather Humphreys.”




Listen back in full here

New Minister for Education Norma Foley heralds the announcement a grant for Universal Access Works at a school in her Kerry Constituency


Good times.

Also: FIGHT!

Previously: That One Teacher

Thanks Vanessa

Norma Foley, a teacher at Presentation Secondary School, Tralee, County Kerry and  new Fianna Fáil Minister for Education arrives for yesterday’s cabinet meeting in Dublin Castle

In fairness.




Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy

In a statement released tonight…

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, who was the first person to inform the Department of Justice that there had been a confirmed Covid-19 case at the Travelodge in Swords, Dublin before a number of asylum seekers were moved out of the hotel to direct provision centres, including Skellig Star Hotel in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry in March, said…

“The information that came to me in late April is that despite a confirmed Covid case presenting in a group of flight-crew trainees who were sharing the Travelodge facility with asylum seekers, those asylum seekers were moved on, at short notice, on the 18th and 19th of March to a number of centres including the Skellig Star.

“This was done without testing or contact tracing. When I asked why the Department would have moved a large group, who had potentially been exposed to a confirmed case, across the country at a time when public health advice was for people to stay home and not head off to holiday homes etc, the Department’s reply to me was that the move was made to ‘de-risk’ the people.

“Yet it is my understanding that also immediately upon moving the large group, another group was moved into the Swords hotel, again without testing, and that within a short period of time a number of staff members in the hotel became ill with Covid.

“I asked Minister [David] Stanton if this was indeed the case during a discussion in the Dáil a number of weeks ago and he confirmed to me that his Department had not been aware of any confirmed cases before the Department moved the group and that he would follow-up with me on the question as to whether or not a second group were then moved into the Swords hotel.

Today it was confirmed to me that a second group was indeed moved into the Swords hotel which seems to undermine the Department’s argument that the original group was moved to ‘de-risk’ them.

“There are obviously serious questions regarding the communications process between the HSE – who you would assume were aware of the confirmed case of Covid in Swords prior to the group being moved on the 18th and 19th of March – and the Department of Justice who, it appears, were not made aware that the group had potentially been exposed before the Department moved them to other centres.

I also need to understand if, as the Department stated in their reply to me in early April, the group was moved to ‘de-risk’ them, why a decision would be taken to move another group into the same facility very soon afterwards.”

Was there a communications breakdown between HSE & DOJ regarding Skellig Star cases? (Catherine Murphy, Social Democrats)


Kerry Fianna Fáil TD Norma Foley in the Dáil this evening and Oonagh Buckley, Deputy Secretary General at the Department of Justice, linking in via video link

This evening.

In the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil TD Norma Foley raised the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Skellig Star Hotel in Caherciveen, Co Kerry, at the Special Committee on the Covid-19 Response.

At least 25 residents of the Skellig Star Hotel, which was turned into a direct provision centre in March, have tested positive for Covid-19.

Ms Foley said:

“I would absolutely dispute and I will, as I get the opportunity to go on, I would absolutely dispute the fact that the residents of the hotel accommodation in [Travelodge, Swords] Dublin were not impacted by that positive diagnosis and equally so, I’m still not clear as to who overruled HSE Cork/Kerry in relation to their misgivings but I will move on.

“I note from the submission by the HSE Head of Primary Care that the HSE is of the view that the first case of suspected Covid-19 in the Skellig Star was the 30th of March.

“Now that date puzzles me as I have verifiable evidence of a written communication from the Skellig Star to the Department of Justice on the 24th of March confirming a suspected case of Covid-19.

“In fact the resident concerned was placed in isolation on March 20th, one day after arrival to Caherciveen.

“So two points, if the Department of Justice knew of a suspected case on March 24th, why is it the HSE was not aware of it until March 30th? And that’s almost a week later?

“Secondly, the timeline might not be of importance to either the HSE or the Department of Justice but it is hugely, hugely important to the resident of the Skellig Star and the community of Caherciveen.

“This timeline confirms unequivocally that Covid-19 was transported by bus on the 18th and 19th of March to the Skellig Star and the community of Caherciveen.

“I say this with absolutely no blame to the residents of Skellig Star but I do apportion absolute culpability to the HSE and the Department of Justice for not conducting the necessary Covid-19 testing prior to leaving Dublin.

“To my mind, at the very least, this was a grave oversight and, at worst, an unequivocal dereliction of duty of care to all concerned.”

Meanwhile, Ms Foley also asked if the department of Justice and HSE are aware that no professional deep-cleansing of the Skellig Star has taken place between March 18th to the present day, despite 25 confirmed cases at the hotel.

The TD said what’s been used throughout the pandemic is Mr Price Stardrops, a white vinegarette spray at €1.49 a bottle.

Earlier: “The Truth Will Out”

Meanwhile In The Dáil



Sinn Fein TD Matt Carthy and Ms Buckley had this exchange:

Matt Carthy: “Could I ask for specific numbers, as quickly as possible, because time is running out, of the number of residents that are currently sharing bedrooms with non-family members?”

Oonagh Buckley: “There’s approximately 1,700 sharing bedrooms…”

Carthy: “How many would be sharing, how many non-family members would be sharing toilet facilities?”

Buckley: “Substantially more.”

Carthy: “We don’t have a number?”

Buckley: “In effect, you could say, that anybody who is not in own-door accommodation, which is about a quarter of our population, is almost certainly either sharing cooking or toilet facilities.”

Carthy: “And would that include shower facilities, washing facilities…”

Buckley: “That is a requirement of our centres.”

Carthy: “Ok, and do you get that there’s a problem there?”

Buckley: “Deputy…”

Carthy: “In the event of an outbreak of Covid-19.”

Buckley: “…my statement. We know there are weaknesses in the system, we would like to improve it but we’re trying to manage our system in the middle of a pandemic so we have to, we are trying to manage the best we can with a system that we know isn’t fit for purpose and we know it needs to change.”