Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD has called on Minister Richard Bruton to address concerns that have been raised over the selection process for DEIS schools.

Deputy Byrne has previously raised the issue with the Minister in the Dáil on a number of occasions and highlighted that there were significant errors with its DEIS selection process announced earlier this year.

Deputy Byrne said, “The Minister has never been able to explain the selection methodology properly. I pointed out that numerous schools have raised serious concerns about the selection process but the Minister seemed unfazed. However, the Department subsequently admitted that serious errors were made.

“It’s astonishing that no details have been released regarding the criteria used for the new DEIS selection process. This is completely at odds with past precedent considering the selection process for the initial DEIS scheme, which Fianna Fáil launched in Government, was detailed in full. It suggests that the Minister rushed to announce the scheme without actually completing the groundwork first.

“Although the Minister will say that the selection process was based on objective criteria, other than referring to the so-called HP Deprivation Index, he hasn’t explained what levels of deprivation are necessary for a school to enter the scheme. This has produced many anomalies. What’s more, the Minister’s criteria were based on the out of date 2011 census and not the most recent figures.

“This is a serious situation as schools simply cannot understand the logic being used for the selection process. The Minister has announced an appeals process of sorts, but we have heard little about it since.

“I’m highlighting the need for an independent review mechanism for DEIS appeals as many schools simply do not have confidence in the current system. The confirmation that serious errors were made in determining whether schools were entitled to access the DEIS scheme shows us that an proper transparent appeals mechanism with proper and transparent criteria is urgently needed. Minister Bruton needs to make this happen,” concluded Deputy Byrne.