The Tánaiste has said that the Government will make a statement on its plans for sex education in primary schools, adding the ethos of a school should never preclude learners from access to inclusive and age-appropriate material.

Speaking in the Dáil, Leo Varadkar said the Programme for Government is "very explicit" about what is required and that he fully expects that policy to be "upheld".

He was replying to a question from Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall, who said it should be an anathema in any republic that school children are informed that there is a hierarchy in relationships.

She said it was completely unacceptable that children would be taught that an LGBTI+ relationship was less worthwhile, or deserving of respect, than their heterosexual peers.

Deputy Shortall referenced a new sex education resource for Catholic primary schools which states that the Catholic Church's teaching in relation to marriage between a man and a woman cannot be omitted.

She said the Church's position - that LGBTI+ relationships are "intrinsically disordered" - is "not the State's position and is not the public's position."

Deputy Shortall also said there were 2,800 Catholic primary schools in the State, accounting for 90% of all schools.

She branded the transfer of patronage as "a snail-paced programme" which had seen only eight schools divested since 2016.

The Tánaiste said it was "very true" that the transfer of patronage has been very slow, but added that it was "important" this was achieved "with consent."