Fianna Fáil's Education Spokesperson Thomas Byrne has asked the Minister for Education to set out how he will address what he says is a shortage of examiners to conduct this year's State Examinations.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Byrne said that Richard Bruton's decision to ignore the teacher shortage crisis had left the State Examinations Commission (SEC) "scrambling" to find teachers to correct the exams.

However, the Department of Education says the SEC has advised it that it is confident that with the ongoing support of teachers, all positions will be filled this year.

The SEC appoints approximately 6,800 examiners annually to mark the written, oral and practical components of the State Examinations. 

The examiners are usually either serving or retired teachers.

In a statement to RTÉ News earlier this month, the SEC said that it continues to invite and accept applications for examiners in all subjects for the 2018 written examinations.

It said that as applications were still being processed it was not possible to comment further.

Concerns have been raised over the past several years about inadequate numbers of teachers coming forward to correct exams.

In June of last year, the SEC issued an urgent appeal for teachers to mark Junior and Leaving Certificate papers over the summer.

At that time it said that its number of reserve examiners in all subjects was "very tight" and it also had direct vacancies that needed to be filled.

At the annual teacher trade union conferences earlier this month, teachers warned that poor rates of pay meant the work was no longer attractive to teachers.

One speaker warned of "an impending catastrophe" in the Junior and Leaving Certificate exams if not enough superintendents and examiners were found.

However, another delegate said poorer teachers were undertaking exam work because they had no financial alternative.

The unions have agreed to lodge a 30% pay claim for teachers undertaking work in the area.