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Today with Claire Byrne on RTG Radio One, there's someone else telling us that the pubs are full of people watching gay rugby. Soccer happened in my local pub two weeks ago, says this listener. The match was at five and people were still there up until half 11 that night. Now, I know that Republicans will say that the vast majority are adhering to the rules, but if you've any experiences of that, do get in touch with us today. Five one five one.

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Now, the cabinet meets this morning ahead of the return of the dole tomorrow. And high on the agenda will be the nomination to be the next EU commissioner and of course, the Leaving CERT grading process. And to preview this morning's meeting, I'm joined on the line by Daniel McConnell, political editor with The Irish Examiner. Daniel, you're very welcome. I was Endler. I was interested to read today your own story in The Examiner, that there was a delay or there is a delay in the nomination for EU commissioner.

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And you suggest that perhaps there is an issue?

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Well, certainly the feeling last night was that the three leaders met to discuss this issue at length. They met for for a number of hours yesterday. And that meeting broke up without resolution. And it was the very clear expectation of of the cabinet and cabinet ministers that that the the name of Simon Coveney would emerge from that meeting as the aggrieved nominee. When I basically got confirmation that the meeting today was likely to happen and I tweeted, I was I had a number of cabinet ministers texted me to figure out or trying to find out what was going on, because it was their position very clearly that Simon Coveney was the preferred candidate of both Fianna Fáil and finical.

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There had been some concern, as I understand it, from Emori inside the Greenside, about our sort of underlines request that Ireland send a man and a woman's name forward. And I'm not necessarily sure that that is the crux of the delay. But certainly they weren't in a position to sign off on Simon Coveney nomination last night.

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So it may not be that we're not ready to send two names through or the name of a man or a woman.

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That's what you're saying, that that is the sense that I've gotten. And certainly no one has corrected me on that in terms of the inquiries that I've made between last night and again this morning. And I think the fact that you you know, you've had soundings from the European Parliament and the socialist grouping within the European Parliament saying that they would look very dimly on Ireland's refusal to send two names forward.

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I think has also I think it was my colleague Brendan O'Connor said at the weekend, have we not annoyed that woman enough?

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I did hear I heard Brendan's comment, actually. And I I do think she's probably had her fill of dealing with Ireland in relation to all of this. I do get the sense, though, there is a very strong will from Europe and from Dublin to put this issue together for two weeks of absolute turmoil in relation to this case. And since the story first broke and I think, you know, ultimately I think it's growing increasingly likely that I will not retain the trade portfolio.

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So I think what's in the mix now is, well, if if a reshuffle is likely to happen, what what portfolio could Simon Coveney guess that would, I suppose, address his concerns about not going over to some sort of a kind of a Mickey Mouse portfolio because the reality is wider? Well, there are 27 EU Commission portfolios. Really, only about a dozen of them carry any weight or any substance. And I think it's important is to be persuaded to leave national politics and ensure that kind of higher echelons of European politics.

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I think he would need to be convinced that he would have a meaningful role. So I think this is not as straightforward as some people may think it is. And obviously there are consequences no matter what option ultimately comes out.

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OK, so would you be guessing that there's a back channel going on there? You know, if we send Simon Coveney, what will he get?

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I would certainly think those discussions are happening at an official level.

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But I question on the agenda this morning as well. As I said, the Leaving CERT grading process now with less than a week away from the results being announced, are we saying or suggesting that it's not finalised yet what their process will be? Surely it has to be at this point in time with certainty.

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As of last night, they were still working on it. But what is very clear, clear is the the lessons of the UK calculated grading system clearly have been learnt or have weighed heavily on Irish officers and Education Minister Norman Foley. The initial proposal of some form of social profiling or aggregating marks down or in relation to what school you come from or its academic track record previously has, it's clear that that has been done away with. I think there has been a fear had they not had that provision within the system, there would be a danger of grade inflation.

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But it's clear from our soundings on our lead story this morning and I think elsewhere that they've abandoned that that principle. I think they are kind of encouraged by the lessons of what happened in the UK. And I think they've ultimately concluded that a bit of grade inflation in poor students in poor areas is probably the lesser of two evils and they're happy to go along that route. What is what I'm hearing this morning very clearly is, you know, they will that parents and students from those poorer areas will not be disenfranchised.

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So that and obviously the details will come out. Norman Foley is due to address the media, I understand it, around lunchtime. So I'm sure we'll get all those details then.

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But that if that happens, that will lead to. Inevitably, to increase demand for college places, yeah, I think the feeling there, though, is in the absence of a huge number of foreign students coming in this year because of covid-19, there is that extra capacity within the system. Simon Harris was on radio, I think, on your own program yesterday, making clear that they're going to have additional places in it in a limited in a limited way.

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So they're not overly concerned. I get the sense of that capacity issue, even though there may be a grade inflation. I think where it may have an issue clear is that obviously, you know, universities may be OK, but, you know, people who may be on that borderline of getting into it versus a university are now going would now go to a university that might have an impact on the capacity or the numbers going into it and then lower down the food chain in terms of colleges of further education.

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So I think that ultimately there'll be people down here.

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I know you're not an education expert, but there'll be people who defer to place from last year and maybe are applying again through the system rather than deferring, I should say, who'll be competing with people who have much higher grades this year than the cohort last year. That'll be a difficulty for them. It certainly will be, but again, I suppose there is no perfect solution to any of this. Think they decided that they weren't going to hold the leaving cert proper?

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There was no perfect solution. And I think ultimately what I do get the sense, though, is that the capacity should not be a major issue. So those people who either defer to place or risk after leaving her to sort of reset the lever to get to higher points that they needed for the course that they want to be in the norm or in the main they should be OK.

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And just going back to the EU commissioner nomination, are we going to find out about that today?

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My understanding is that we will wait. Like I even heard your own colleague, Paul Cunningham, on the news last night saying that if the three leaders were not in a position to make a recommendation to cabinet, which is due to start at 11 o'clock, they will go back and meet again this afternoon with an aim to emerge this afternoon. As I say, the very clear impression I got from senior government sources and across the coalition last night is they want to put this issue to bed as quickly as possible.

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And, you know, ideally, as they say, McIlvanney fits the bill to allow Ireland to regain some of the stature that has probably lost over the last two weeks.

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All right. Well, it sounds like the deal is not done yet, so let's wait and see what happens. Danny, thank you very much for joining us. Daniel McConnell there from the Irish Examiner. Coming up, we're going to be hearing about the impact of covid-19 on people with dementia and those who care for them.

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Email today, c.B at RTG Doti.