Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Covid-19 Pandemic

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

56. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education if clarity will be provided on the Covid-19 safety measures in school settings, including the potential use of filtration devices and all other measures required. [57257/21]

I am asking this question on behalf of my party colleague, Deputy Ó Laoghaire, who has been unavoidably detained tonight. We have known for some time now that Covid-19 is an airborne virus and that ventilation, including air filtration, has a key role to play in protecting students and staff in our schools. Sinn Féin has been calling for adequate ventilation measures for the guts of a year now. Will the Minister commit to providing high efficiency particulate absorbing, HEPA, air filtration devices for every classroom that needs them? If not, why not?

Ensuring schools can operate safely has been a key priority for me as Minister for Education. My Department has always been guided by public health advice on appropriate Covid-19 infection prevention and control measures in our schools. These measures protect students, their parents and school staff and are effective. Public health advice is that the two most important actions to prevent the introduction and spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses are ensuring no one with new onset symptoms attends school and all recommended infection prevention and control measures are in place in line with school Covid response plans.

Each school was provided with an updated Covid-19 response plan in advance of the return to school. Significant additional resources of €639 million were put into schools in the previous academic year to keep schools safe. Further funding of €57.6 million has been paid by way of Covid-19 capitation to schools in September for the implementation of infection prevention and control measures for this term alone. This funding will cater for school costs related to hand hygiene measures, personal protective equipment, PPE, requirements, enhanced cleaning supports and supervision.

At primary level, additional management resources for principal release days were provided for principals and deputy principals. Teacher supply panels were also expanded to cover the majority of primary schools nationwide, and a recent review saw an additional 100 teaching posts added, resulting in approximately 480 teaching posts on these panels available to provide substitute cover in schools At post-primary level, more than 1,000 teaching posts were provided to support social distancing within classrooms, to provide for enhanced supervision arrangements to manage and prevent congregation of large groups of students, and to ensure the careful movement in a socially distant manner to classes for specialist subjects where it is neither practical nor possible to remain in the classroom. This funding also included additional posts for guidance provision.

Managing ventilation is also an important part of the measures to keep our schools safe. Updated guidance for schools on practical steps for the deployment of good ventilation practices in schools was provided at the end of May following the work of an expert group that carefully considered the role of ventilation in managing Covid-19. The Department's guidance is clear that where the recommended measures have been undertaken and poor ventilation continues to exist in a particular room, air cleaners may be considered as an additional measure in conjunction with the other methods of ventilation that are available.

We all want schools to be open and functioning well but we cannot pretend Covid-19 is not in our schools. Too often the Department seems to minimise these issues. According to a principal in Mayo, 15% of one school's students are at home with Covid-19. If education remaining open is as important as we say it is, surely we should be throwing the kitchen sink at it. While I acknowledge the ventilation measures the Minister has outlined, CO2 monitors alone are not enough to ensure schools remain open safely and functioning well. It is crunch time and I am urging the Minister to go back to her Department and seriously examine the role HEPA filters can play here. Sinn Féin wants HEPA filter systems in all classrooms and the Government needs to resource schools to put them in place. This would cost less than €30 million. The Department of Education needs to provide rapid access and must publish costings. We have known for a long time that ventilation is a crucial issue and the Minister needs to do everything she can to keep classrooms as safe as possible.

I also want to discuss antigen testing and the tracing regime that was announced last week.

At the outset I want to be very clear that we have followed public health advice and guidance in our schools. It is the expert view of public health officials that our schools are places of low transmission, largely because of the very significant and substantial infection prevention and control measures that are in place in schools.

Specifically on the points made by the Deputy on CO2 monitors, these were suggested and are available in our schools. Equally, in terms of ventilation we have been very clear at every point that if there are issues with ventilation, they can and will be addressed. Public health officials have been very clear in telling us that natural ventilation is the most important type of ventilation, but where there are specific issues with a vent or a window or more substantial issues, we have a technical team available to schools. Schools can apply for emergency works funding, which they have done and they have been supported in doing so. All measures that are required in terms of ventilation are being put in place in schools, whatever those measures might be.

Principals are already at the end of their tether and now it seems responsibility for contact tracing will fall to them and to parents. I urge the Minister to ask the HSE to ensure public health teams have a significant role in contact tracing in our schools. We need school-specific contact tracing. Many school staff are concerned by the details of the antigen testing plan. They are rightly asking what protections, in the context of antigen testing, are in place for them. Given school staff are not part of classroom pods, is there is any possibility of staff receiving antigen tests? There are further concerns about delays between children being identified as pod close contacts and receiving antigen tests in the post. The advice is children should continue to go to school unless they have a positive antigen test. This means children who may have Covid-19 may continue to attend school for days while waiting for antigen tests in the post. What has the Minister done to ensure rapid access to antigen testing? Has she examined the possibility of tests being delivered directly to schools or collected from a HSE location?

Again, to reiterate, at the risk of repeating myself, we follow best practice public health advice in our schools. Indeed, that is what we have done in wider society also. The Deputy is aware it is the expert judgment of the Chief Medical Officer, CMO, that there is now a role for antigen testing in our schools and the HSE has been charged with the responsibility of rolling that out.

The Deputy will be aware that if a child tests positive, parents are being asked to inform the principal. In turn, the principal is being asked to inform the parents of the children in that child's pod, without giving away any personal details. If there are more than two outbreaks in a classroom within a seven-day period, apart from the original pod, antigen testing will be made available to the entire class. In that instance, accommodation will be made for staff members related to the pod or the class.

In terms of the mechanism of receiving tests in the post, the Deputy will be aware this is the current situation regarding wider society. There is no question of principals or anyone else in the school sector being asked to do contact tracing. Public health teams remain available to schools where the need arises.

Educational Reform

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

57. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education if she will give a full report on the recent discussions her Department has been having on reform of the leaving certificate; the timeline for changes to same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57644/21]

It is our view the leaving certificate should go because it has outlived its usefulness. It is a gatekeeping and streaming exercise which perpetuates inequality and limits or streams access to third level education. The Minister might not agree with all of that but she has committed to some sort of review of the leaving certificate. I want to know the status of that review because, particularly after Covid, a root-and-branch review is long overdue.

I appreciate the question and the sincerity with which it is put. The Deputy may be aware that, between 2016 and 2020, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, undertook an extensive review of senior cycle programmes and vocational pathways. The NCCA’s advisory report on the senior cycle has been submitted to my Department for consideration and will be published once that consideration is complete. I am aware of the desire in the education community and more generally for that to happen, but we must complete our consideration of the report. I am focusing on what the implementation of the report would involve and what we can do to best ensure the further evolution of the senior cycle.

As the consideration of the advisory report has continued, my officials have had contact with officials in the NCCA and the State Examinations Commission, SEC, to ensure there is a clarity of understanding on some matters identified in the report. I have had a considerable number of briefing sessions and meetings with relevant officials in my Department as our consideration of the NCCA advisory report has continued.

In addition, I recently attended an NCCA meeting to thank the council and acknowledge its work in developing the advisory report. I also opened the recent Joint Managerial Body conference, the theme of which was A Senior Cycle for All.

In respect of the advisory report, the review considered a number of areas, including the question of the overall purpose of senior cycle education, as the Deputy referenced, how to establish continuity and progression, and the pathways available to students. The review involved a broad range of research, consultations, and communications with a broad range of stakeholders, including very importantly, students themselves, on all aspects of review and redevelopment. The NCCA also commissioned external expertise, which is also important, to support the process, including the ESRI and the OECD.

A lecturer in UCD told me that much of the modern examination system originated with efforts to populate the civil service in British-controlled colonial China. I do not know if it is true, but it is a structure that is about enforcing certain norms and notions of hierarchy. That is still true of the leaving certificate. There are some dinosaurs in the North or in Britain who might hark back to the days of the 11 plus, when people's access to secondary education was streamed through exams. We now think that is horrible. The time has come for us to have the same attitude towards accessing third-level education. I do not see how the leaving certificate is anything other than a gatekeeping exercise, a streaming exercise and an unnecessary stress that does nothing to encourage education and has long outlived its usefulness.

I appreciate the point the Deputy made. Covid has focused our lens even more closely on how the leaving certificate and senior cycle operates. To be fair, the entire review involves all of the senior cycle, and, therefore, includes the leaving certificate applied, the leaving certificate established and the leaving certificate vocational programme. We are also referring to the transition year programme as well. I agree that when we are looking at the senior cycle, we must look at it in its entirety.

I acknowledge that within the report there has been an opportunity to consider what we have currently and what works well, but also to go beyond that and to consider the key question, which is if there is a pathway for all within education where every child's needs are met within the education system and there is an opportunity for everybody to progress to whatever level or to take whatever pathway they might wish to follow.

I am especially pleased that the review has consulted widely and that students have been at the centre of it, and also that there is outside expertise. There is an urgency attached to moving ahead with senior cycle reform. I confirm that I am conscious of that and cognisant of it.

Could the Minister be more specific about when the report will be published and when this is going to happen? This cannot be long-fingered. As she said, Covid has highlighted the inadequacies that were there, but it has shone a sharp light on the problems and the unfairness of the leaving certificate. It is unfair to put large numbers of students through the incredible and unnecessary stress it imposes on them. That is damaging to the intellectual development and confidence of many students. Given that we recognise that it has gone past its state of usefulness, as long as it is remains in use when it is outdated, it is damaging. There is a certain urgency in the root-and-branch review that is necessary to remove any barriers or hierarchies in terms of accessing the next level of education.

I appreciate the points the Deputy has made and the urgency with which he views the question. The review was four years in the making and involves a considerable body of work. There was the widest consultation, rightly, with all the partners in education – parents, teachers, wider society, obviously students as well, and also the views and experiences of experts from other jurisdictions. Therefore, it demands a level of consideration that is important. As I previously outlined to the Deputy, it has involved further engagement with the NCCA on points of clarification. It has also involved work with the secondary education committee, SEC. I appreciate the urgency attached to the review. I assure him that it will be published in the shortest timeframe. I am confident that it will set a pathway forward.

School Staff

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

58. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education the steps she is taking to address the substitution crisis in schools. [57258/21]

The education system is at crisis point and many schools are struggling to stay afloat. School leaders are working up to midnight every night trying to source substitute teachers for their schools for the next day. Many of these positions remain unfilled and many classes end up with no teacher to take them. According to an INTO survey, nearly one third of substitution days were not covered. Does the Minister accept that there is a substitution crisis in schools?

Referring to my previous question, is she saying that we do not need school-specific contact tracing? Who will do the contact tracing if she says there is no way teachers or principals will have to do it?

I am the first to acknowledge that these have been difficult and challenging times, not just currently but throughout the pandemic, for all school leaders and all school communities. There has been an extraordinary generosity by school leaders and school communities to do what needs to be done in the delivery of education and to pivot in other directions when it was not possible to maintain the delivery in the school setting and to provide remote teaching and learning.

I accept there are continuing challenges in the education sector. The Deputy referred in particular to substitution. I acknowledge that there has been extraordinary co-operation between the partners in education and others in finding a pathway forward. It is a considerable challenge, and it is more acute in some areas than others.

Significant measures have been put in place in recent weeks, and again this evening. Following positive engagement with the higher education institutions, HEIs, in recent weeks, including today, we are now in a position to say that there will be an opportunity for the HEIs to facilitate release of master’s in primary education, and BEd years 3 and 4 students to support schools up to the end of term. The HEIs have also agreed to explore flexible options on the assessment requirements for programmes in the context of students being available to support schools also, which is an important consideration. Retired teachers returning to the classroom until the end of the current term will not have their pensions impacted. Qualified teachers on secondment to the Department's teacher education support services will now be released and made available to schools. The continuing professional development, CPD, programmes, which are being followed at primary school, where substitution is required will be deferred until the mid-term break in February. It is intended that the programmes will be rescheduled following the mid-term break.

There will also be additionality added to the supply panels. A total of 100 teachers were added in the past week or so and a further 200 will be added bringing us to 680 teachers available on a full-time basis. There are also other measures.

I welcome all of the measures. Some effort has been made to tackle substitution by deploying student teachers, albeit that we have been calling for this for some time. However, it is only part of the solution. Much more can be done, and every school must have access to a substitution panel. This is an emergency, and we need all hands on deck. Student teachers alone will not solve this crisis. Several hundred teachers are on secondment to other bodies. I would not usually advocate this, but given that we are in a state of emergency, surely it is time to identify some of these teachers and for them to return back to the classroom. Principals are under incredible pressure to find substitute cover. Sometimes they have no other option but to deploy a special education teacher to cover a mainstream class. This is not by choice but by necessity. Last year, schools were able to bank those special education hours to protect special education teaching time for children with additional needs. I cannot understand why this year, when the substitution crisis has deteriorated even further, that banking is no longer an option. This is one thing the Minister can do immediately.

I want to be very clear. No single measure is sufficient of itself to meet the challenges that are particularly acute in some areas. I have referenced the fact that those who are on secondment, in particular those who are on secondment to the professional development service for teachers, PDST, will be released and made available.

That is an important measure. It is important to say also that a number of measures have been announced in the last while and these are additional measures that are being announced today.

The Deputy referenced the substitution panel, which I also referenced. We now have full-time opportunities for teachers to make themselves available for emergency cover in schools. These panels have been expanded. Prior to this Government being formed, there were six of those panels in the country and there are now more than 400 of them, and we continue to keep that under review and to provide additionality, with more than 680 teachers being made available as well. There are also other measures in terms of teachers on supply panels completing Droichead in order to assist with the recruitment of teachers and, in the context of the pandemic, the Teaching Council has confirmed that teachers who secure posts on supply panels will also be eligible to complete Droichead.

The Minister needs to safeguard special educational teaching. Will the Minister reverse the decision to remove banked special education hours - "Yes" or "No"? I go back to my previous question. Does the Minister think there is no need for school-specific contact tracing? What happens with the time delay in having antigen tests delivered to schools? Teachers and parents need more clarity around that.

To clarify with regard to substitution, a whole myriad of measures are being made available to schools, not one single measure. In terms of special education specifically, it is very important that children who need to avail of particular supports because they have particular special educational challenges should receive that support at the time they are scheduled to receive it. I do not think it is helpful to pit one group of students against another. It is important that, as the need arises and as the students are timetabled for special educational support, they should receive it at that time.

On contact tracing, I want to be very clear. The Deputy referred to public health, which continues to be available to schools currently and in the future in terms of any particular issues that might arise in schools. I have outlined previously what the new mechanisms will be, bearing in mind that this is the expert recommendation of the CMO and of public health, which have supported the running of our schools right from the very beginning and the onset of this pandemic.

Covid-19 Tests

Matt Shanahan

Question:

59. Deputy Matt Shanahan asked the Minister for Education if clarity will be provided in relation to antigen testing in schools and the way it is to be implemented within the school setting; if antigen testing will be used within both primary and secondary settings; the current protocol for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57036/21]

I thank the Minister for coming in and for the continuing support she offers to my office. My question is in regard to whether greater clarity will be provided in regard to antigen testing in schools, the way it is to be implemented within the school setting, if it will be used within both primary and secondary school settings and what protocol will be operated for same.

I appreciate the question. The approach to supporting schools to operate safely during Covid-19 has been to follow and implement public health advice. A range of measures have been implemented across schools, including social distancing, enhanced cleaning and, as the Deputy will be aware, mask wearing in some settings for students and in all settings for staff.

As of 27 September 2021, following a recommendation from NPHET, a decision was taken to cease routine contact tracing of asymptomatic close contacts in children older than three months to under 13 years outside the household setting, including those attending primary educational and childcare settings. Contact tracing continues for those over 13 years, including those attending post-primary schools.

Schools are still required to undertake the two most important actions to prevent the introduction and spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses by ensuring no one with new acute symptoms attends class and that all recommended infection prevention and control measures are in place in line with school Covid response plans.

The Department of Health and the HSE, working in collaboration with the Department of Education, announced last week a programme in which antigen tests will be made available to children in primary schools when a case of Covid-19 arises. Parents and guardians of a primary school child who is a confirmed case of Covid-19 following a PCR test are asked to inform their school principal. The school principal will then inform the parents of other children in the pod of a confirmed case. Where there are two cases in a class in more than one pod in a seven- day period, antigen tests will be offered to every child in the class. Of course, no personal details of the child will be shared. These parents will be provided with the option to receive free antigen tests for their child, which they will be able to order for delivery to their home.

It is important that parents inform principals quickly if a child receives a PCR "detected" test for Covid-19. By doing this, the choice to participate in antigen testing can be offered to other parents quickly. It is important that everyone continues to follow all the public health advice in using this new programme. It is not mandatory for children to participate in antigen testing. Children who are in a pod where a child has tested positive for Covid-19 can continue to attend school whether they participate in antigen testing or not.

The Minister might not be aware but I actually brought antigen testing to NPHET in April or May 2020 and I am somebody who has been promoting this technology for quite a while. The antigen test for infectiousness is very important and we are probably being too slow about rolling it out given the way we are proposing to roll it out. I accept it has limitations in terms of its effectiveness, whether it is in a managed setting or in a less formal setting. However, as I said in the House recently, I have a sister-in-law who works as a school secretary in the UK, where that school is managing antigen testing for all of the school’s 900 pupils and doing it very successfully, with two antigen tests for all school pupils every week. This is something we should be looking at. The problem here is that the horse will have bolted while we are trying to close the stable door in many cases, given what we are proposing. For that reason, although maybe it is difficult considering the Minister is referencing health advice, I suggest that what we are proposing is not significant enough and not often enough.

I thank the Deputy. Again, I appreciate the very positive approach he takes and the generosity with which he shares his experience. In terms of our schools as they exist, comparable to other schools, there are very significant infection prevention and control measures in our schools, and I would venture to say they are not comparable to the lack of them in other jurisdictions.

On antigen testing, the Deputy will appreciate there have been very differing views on antigen tests, their utility and their effectiveness, and all of that. As new evidence becomes available, as we have found throughout Covid, the implementation of measures and the recommendations are altered. We now have the expert view of the CMO who, having reviewed the evidence, believes there is a role for antigen testing in our schools, but he is very clear to say it is merely an additional tool and it will be seen and implemented in that respect. All of the other infection prevention and control measures will continue in schools to support the operation of our schools.

I thank the Minister. I accept that response as the Minister has given it but, as I said, I do not think we are doing enough. I heard the CMO on radio the other morning and, basically, he was not gushing in his praise for what antigen testing can do. I think that is a mistake.

The other thing I would point out to the Minister is that there is a significant cost differential between PCR testing and antigen testing, probably at a rate of 10:1. Therefore, it suggests we could be doing a lot of antigen testing for the large amount of money that we are spending.

I want to offer the Minister one other piece of advice for teachers, if I may. There is now a lot of evidence that supports the supplementation of vitamin D. Despite the fact that, again, NPHET and the CMO will not endorse this, I can tell the Minister most medics in the country are supplementing vitamin D. I would ask that this message goes out to teachers at the moment. We live in a northern latitude country. We are not making enough vitamin D and there is a significant correlation between adverse Covid and low levels of vitamin D. Perhaps that is something the Minister might like to put out as a public health message at some point.

I thank the Deputy. In terms of antigen testing, obviously, it is a public health measure and it is being led by the HSE, but there is a significant body of work under way whereby guidelines will now be made available to school principals, school staff and parents, and that will all be communicated in advance of Monday, 29 November.

How correctly to utilise and use antigen testing will also form part of that communication, which is very important. Particular significance has been given to that by all of the public health officials so that we would know exactly how best to use and utilise them within the schools.

I want to be clear that, as I said previously, all of the measures that are recommended to us by public health have been made available to our schools and we have resourced them. This is an additional tool. We will continue to listen and to work with public health and any further recommendations or requirements that are necessary, we will also implement.

Defective Building Materials

Thomas Pringle

Question:

60. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education her views in relation to the submission from the Donegal Education and Training Board, ETB, for additional supports to assist students affected by the mica issue; if her attention has been drawn to the unique challenges to the mental health and well-being of the student cohort in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57562/21]

This question is on a specific submission that was made by Donegal ETB to the Department to try to address a unique set of circumstances around children living in mica-affected homes in Donegal and the needs identified by their schools. There is no doubt that these children are living under severe pressure. Their homes are at risk of collapsing, they are going into schools and the schools need to be able to deal with that and respond to the needs of those people.

I appreciate the Deputy raising this issue and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, has raised it with me on an ongoing basis as well. I recognise the considerable challenge experienced by all of those impacted by mica. I have met families and representative groups to discuss the issue and I want to confirm that my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, is engaging extensively with homeowners, as the Deputy will be aware, to develop an appropriate redress package for all those affected.

I am conscious of the submission from Donegal ETB seeking supports to assist those affected. My Department has a comprehensive range of supports in place to support the well-being and mental health of all students. These supports should be prioritised and utilised by the ETB to help address any mental health and well-being needs of those students who are affected by this issue. These supports include casework by psychologists from my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS. Psychologists also work with school staff to build their capability to support the well-being and academic, social and emotional development of all pupils. Resources and guidance on managing stress, anxiety and panic attacks and on self-regulation are also available. NEPS has developed a range of workshops to build the capability of school staff in the promotion of well-being and resilience in schools, which include upskilling school staff on the use and implementation of therapeutically informed approaches in schools.

The Department of Health has responsibility for the provision of counselling services, and through HSE primary care psychology and child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, provides clinical support to children and young people with mental health requirements. My Department will continue to signpost schools and students to the HSE-funded mental health services. Significant additional resources have been made available to schools this year under the Covid learning and support scheme, CLASS, which has provided additional teaching hours to schools to support academic teaching and learning as well as holistic development and well-being. Overall, 3,930 hours have been allocated to Donegal ETB for the 2021 and 2022 school year in the CLASS.

The Minister gave a comprehensive outline of the measures that are in place in schools to deal with the existing mental health problems and difficulties they have and that exist in every school all over the country. We are talking about a serious crisis that is happening in part of Donegal. The ETB's submission to the Department recognises that it is only in that specific part of the county that these resources are needed. Additional resources are needed as this is an additional crisis and the Minister has to recognise that. She said that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, has been raising this with her as well but sadly it seems it has been falling on deaf ears within the Department. That is the reality of the situation. The Minister says that her Department "has a comprehensive range of supports in place to support the well-being and mental health of all students". That is the existing programme but this goes over and above that. The Minister has to recognise that and the Department should recognise that.

I want to make it clear that I do not for one minute underestimate the personal difficulties of any family, individual, young person or child experiencing mica defects in their homes. As I have outlined, there are specific and strong supports available within our school system. Equally, additional measures have been put in place this year. For example, for the first time almost 4,000 hours are going to Donegal ETB under the CLASS, which is for academic and holistic supports that students would require at this time, even apart from mica. However, I am happy to say that I will be cognisant of the points the Deputy and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, have raised with me. I will be happy for my officials in the Department to meet Donegal ETB to see what scope or opportunity there might be to address some of the points it wishes to raise.

That is the most relevant thing the Minister has said tonight. It is vitally important that officials from the Department would meet Donegal ETB to discuss this issue with it. Donegal ETB even made a specific point in its briefing to Deputies outlining what it is doing and on what it made a submission to the Department of Education. That is how worried it is about the matter. Everything the Minister has outlined is welcome. She mentioned hours being allocated to Donegal ETB under the CLASS but that has been rolled out nationally and it is dealing with existing issues. These issues go over and above that. They are issues that cause schools and parents to be extremely worried about the impact this is having on young people across the board. I urge the Minister to ensure that this meeting would take place quickly and I urge the Minister to come back to the House and let us know what happens in that meeting. That is vitally important.

I do not in any way take from the seriousness of the situation. There has been a request for counselling services and that is a matter for the Department of Health. It has responsibility for the provision of counselling services, and through the HSE it provides primary care psychology and CAMHS services to children and young people with mental health needs. On the additional supports that might help, I am open to officials in my Department meeting Donegal ETB, recognising that there is a body of measures in place. I am open and willing to have my officials meet Donegal ETB to specifically hear from it about the measures it wishes to bring to the attention of the Department.