News & Media

Minister must attend Oireachtas Education Committee after hand sanitiser bungle

23 October 2020

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade
Aodhan
  • Answers needed as to why it took the Department two days to tell schools to withdraw the faulty hand sanitiser after it emerged they knew on Tuesday.

Labour T.D Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has written to the Chair of the Oireachtas Education Committee to ask him to convene an extraordinary meeting next week and to ask Education Minister Norma Foley to attend after it was revealed that the Department knew about the defective hand sanitiser two days before it was revealed in a statement.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“I have written to Paul Kehoe asking him to convene a meeting next week. Minister Foley needs to attend the Committee as soon as possible to answer questions as to why it took two days to inform the public that the hand sanitiser Vira Pro needed to be withdrawn.

“The fact that the Department knew about this on Tuesday night and failed to inform schools until a press release was issued late Thursday is completely unacceptable. This is yet another example of Minister Foley and the Department treating the school community with contempt.

“This should have been communicated immediately to allow schools to put in place necessary measures to withdraw the product. Instead we had a situation where school principals were scrambling late last night and early this morning trying to ascertain whether their school was affected and whether they needed to close early.

“There is heightened anxiety amongst the school community and principals and teachers as frontline workers deserve more respect than this. The Minister needs to explain why the Department issued a statement outlining that they were only informed about the faulty hand sanitiser on Thursday when it subsequently emerged that they had received information on Tuesday, including the name of the product.

“This is a disgraceful, contemptuous manner to treat schools and school leaders. I am calling on the Chair of the Education Committee to convene an urgent meeting because answers are needed as to why the product wasn’t immediately withdrawn on Tuesday given the risk to public health and we need to hear from the Minister as to why it took 48 hours to inform schools.