October 23, 2020
Major questions outstanding for Department of Education after ViraPro fiasco – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called for the Minister for Education to come before the Dáil to answer important questions as to how ViraPro hand sanitiser came to be used in schools and how it came to be recalled.

He said:

“Schools have had to deal with enough chaos this year, without the fiasco of an e-mail at 10.40pm last night informing them that they should no longer use one of the eleven Sanitiser products recommended. 

“The reality is that many schools only learned about this issue this morning and had to make a call then and there. While some schools were successful in obtaining a replacement, many others were not. 

“For those schools it is an enormous disruption on the last day before mid-term. Many parents have been left scrambling at the last minute to either find childcare or to take a day off. 

“There are huge questions here for the Department of Education. The Department of Agriculture recall notice was that products were due to be recalled by Tuesday, so why did it take so long for the Department of Education to get the word out? Schools and parents should have been informed immediately. 

“The Department of Agriculture said it was recalled as ‘prolonged use of such sanitiser may cause dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches’, and already I am being contacted by parents worried about irritation to their children’s skin and asthmatic children.

“The Department said last night that ‘some of the sanitiser on sale does not comply with regulations governing the content and efficacy of such products.’

“Questions also need to be asked about how this was cleared. Did the Safety Data sheet indicate that the product was safe for use by children. Was it adequately checked before being checked? Does the Department have any comeback against the company if the product did not do what it said on the SDS, and was not as safe as advertised? 

“I raised this with the Minister in the Dáil last night, expressing my deep concern and asked her to make a statement to reassure parents and give clarity. I regret that she did not take the opportunity. She must now do so today. 

“The Department of Education urgently need to get a handle on Covid-19 safety measures in schools because it is falling short of the mark in several ways.”

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