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Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (469)

Seán Haughey


469. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the reason his Department advised all early learning and care and school aged childcare services to close on 7 and 8 December 2021; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many parents were unhappy regarding this advice given that Storm Barra turned out not to be very dangerous particularly in the Dublin area; if he will reconsider the policy for the sector in respect of orange weather warnings given that such storms are likely to be more frequent in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61852/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

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.