Early learning and childcare services located in counties with red and orange weather warnings were advised by my Department to close on 7 and 8 December.
On 6 December Met Eireann issued a red alert warning relating to severe wind for counties Clare, Kerry and Cork. A status orange warning issued for counties Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Dublin, Louth, Wicklow, Meath.
Met Éireann also advised that there was a strong possibility that the status of parts of the counties in status orange were likely to change and escalate to status red. On foot of this advice and engagement with the Department of Education, a decision was taken to advise services in affected areas to remain closed on Tuesday, 7 December to ensure that children, parents and staff remained safe.
Included in this communication on 6 December was confirmation that services that closed due to Storm Barra would continue to receive State subvention under the Force Majeure clause in their contracts.
On Tuesday, 7 December, a communication issued advising that early learning and childcare services in counties with red and orange warnings should remain closed on 8 December.
The advice to early learning and childcare services in counties with red and orange weather warnings to close was not taken lightly. The storm was significant in nature and was emerging and changing course over a three day period. The safety of children and staff in early learning and childcare services was of paramount importance and was the basis of my decision to advice closure of services in affected counties.
With regard to future storms, any advice on service closures will be taken in co-operation with other Departments, taking into account the advice of Met Éireann. The safety of children and staff will be the main consideration in any advice which may be given.