Minister of State Josepha Madigan has clarified comments she made over the weekend, criticising and naming four Dublin primary schools.

She has said the schools in question will be compelled to open special classes if they continue to refuse to do so.

The primary schools reacted with fury yesterday after they were publicly named by the Department of Education as schools unwilling to open classes for children with special educational needs.

They strongly disputed comments made about them by the Minister of State for Special Education.

They pointed to emails, Zoom meetings and site inspections had taken place up until last Friday.

Ms Madigan told RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon that the four schools were "not engaging at all" with a request to open dedicated classes for children with special educational needs, and were "just ignoring correspondence".

Clarifying her remarks today and standing over them, the minister said it had been very clear the schools in question had been "ignoring the import of the correspondence".

She said the National Council for Special Education and the Department of Education had assured her there had been insufficient engagement from the schools and that there was not going to be collaboration around opening a special class.

Ms Madigan said that if this continued, the four schools would be compelled to act.

She was speaking as she and Minister for Education, Norma Foley, announced details of new proposed legislation that will speed up the ability of the state to compel schools to open special classes.

It is hoped the legislation could be in place before the Dáil rises for its summer recess.

Ms Madigan said there were parents contacting her on a daily basis who were crying out for school places. "We are only in this situation because there are not enough schools volunteering", she said.

According to the NCSE, there are currently 106 children without a school place for this coming September. 56 of them need places in special classes in mainstream schools.

Ms Madigan said she was "absolutely endeavouring to ensure that every child will have a school place come September".

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Call for Minister Madigan to apologise

Labour's Education Spokesperson has called on Minister Madigan to apologise for naming the four schools.

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said schools had enough challenges to deal with rather than being "dumped on" by Minister Madigan.

He said he does not have confidence in Ms Madigan, but would not be calling for her resignation because he said this week should not be about political parties asking ministers to resign.

He accused Minister Madigan of targeting and shaming four Deis schools.

Sinn Féin's Education Spokesperson said that the public naming of four schools failed to provide any "fruitful outcome".

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said that the comments from Minister Madigan were unhelpful.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire said that he is not "in principle" against naming schools where there has been wrongdoing, however he said in this case it has proven to "distract from the Minister's own failure".

He said that Sinn Féin would be willing to facilitate Government legislation which would allow the Education Minister to direct schools to quickly provide places for students with special educational needs.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said the principle of naming and shaming is okay if schools have been dragging their heels in terms of making additional needs places available.

However, she said in this case it was the Department of Education that was dragging its heels, which the Minister needed to acknowledge.

Additional reporting Tommy Meskill, Mícheál Lehane, Karen Creed