The upper house of parliament (senate) on Tuesday night backed the introduction of free school books for secondary school pupils by a slim majority.
But senators only approved the plan on the condition that schools which break EU rules on tendering can claim their legal costs back from the state.
Parents are currently responsible for buying school text books, at a cost of upwards of €300 per child per year.
Senators are concerned that schools may lose the right to choose which books they use because they will be forced to put their book supply contracts out to public tender.
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