The Taoiseach has said the Department of Education is considering a proposal by Educate Together to expand the capacity of five schools which were ordered to limit their intake of pupils from next September.

Mr Varadkar was responding to the co-leader of the Social Democrats, Róisín Shortall, who described as it as a "farcical situation" where a number of over-subscribed multi-denominational schools have been told to severely limit their intake to half stream of just 13 pupils from next September.

The five Educate Together schools in Trim, Tramore, Tuam, New Ross and Castlebar were established under the schools divestment programme.

That recommended that existing school buildings from religious bodies would be transferred to Educate Together to reflect parental demand.

Ms Shortall accused the Department of Education of trying to "stymie the development of the schools to severely limit their intake.

"Will you now undertake to ensure that the Department’s erroneous instructions to these schools is reversed, and they can now proceed with a full junior infants class intake in September so that they can continue to thrive and meet the established demand from local families?" she asked. 

In response the Taoiseach said the Government was committed to ensuring that there is greater diversity in the provision of education and different types of schools in Ireland.

"In relation to the five schools concerned these have had a half stream in their initial year of opening, in some cases this was because the physical accommodation of the school they were occupying in could not accommodate additional numbers.

"The arrangement reflected the department's engagement with Educate Together," he said.

"However a case has now been submitted by Educate Together to the Department of Education to further expand these schools and the case is being considered by the Department," he said.

If the space is there for those children, and if there are teachers there to teach them, it would make a lot of sense, he said.

In a tweet this evening, the New Ross Educate Together National School stated that this information was incorrect. It said it had taken in excess of half stream each year except 2016, and enrolled 21 junior infants last year.