There was widespread shock and confusion today as the government announced that it was to scrap the centralised college entry system. Announcing the immediate dissolution of the CAO at an impromptu press conference, a government spokesperson outlined their plans for what would replace the much maligned service - a return to hedge-schooling.
Speaking to a thronged press room in Leinster House, Cecil Kelp, a junior spokesman for the Department of Education, defended their decision. "I know what with the academic year being almost over we've left things a bit late, but the government have taken this decision and we will stand by it. And, realistically, it's probably for the best to ditch the CAO. Given the amount of flak this thing's been taking over the years we just decided that it'd be better for all involved if we just pulled the plug. As a vet once said to me after my Range Rover clipped a neighbour's labrador, 'sometimes trying to fix something can actually do more damage. Sometimes, it's easier just to let something go.'" With that Mr. Kelp momentarily paused, his glazed eyes staring into the middle-distance.
After a short interval, where an intern was sent to the podium to waft some smelling salts under Mr. Kelp's nose, he came back round - quite where the intern acquired medicines that largely went out of fashion in the Victorian era is a mystery that must be left to a more journalistically rigorous publication to solve.
Mr. Kelp proceeded to elaborate that, in tandem with the CAO being abolished, all third-level institutions within the Republic of Ireland are to be dissolved and replaced with a return to hedge-schooling. Addressing the evident sense of outrage in the room at this news he said, "Look I know it might be a lot to take in, but trust me, it's for the best. While our current education budget may be stretched to its limits trying to provide adequate resources for the many, cumbersome roofed buildings that constitute our education system, it will perfectly cover the type of basic maintenance required of a hedge. In certain exceptional cases, there may even be scope in more prosperous years, to stretch to some light topiary work on select well-performing schools."
Naturally, this explanation did little to abate the tension in the room, Mr. Kelp continued, "Please, it'll be a lot easier if you just go along with this. These changes are very much just the thin end of the wedge of a whole suite of policies that we're unveiling to cater to regressive traditionalists."
"Throughout the world, and thus in Ireland which - until science provides us with a way of remedying this distressing situation - remains firmly a part of the world, there is a growing movement toward regressive conservatism; an idolatory of an indistinct and unspecific idea of 'the past'. So, in order to pander to these people and harvest their votes, we will be proposing a suite of policies which we feel will appease their very broad and entirely unworkable ideals. In addition to the return of hedge-schooling, we are thrilled to announce that Ireland is to secede from the Eurozone and, briefly, return to using the punt before, ultimately, ending up back as an agrarian, barter-based society. Television will be outlawed, there will be a loosening of all laws concerning what members of your immediate family you're allowed marry, and all medicine more advanced than those carried by that intern over there will be loaded onto ocean-freighters that will be scuttled in the North Sea."
At this point the intern made a celebratory fist-pump for being mentioned in the speech. This will surely mark the end of his nascent political career.
A tour of one of these new hedge-schools was scheduled to take place following the press conference but had to be abandoned after it was discovered that the selected hedge was currently home to a sizeable fox den with a maternally aggressive fox, as well as a sullied bag of Penthouse magazines from 2007 that had seemingly been stashed there.