CATHAOIRLEACH FEARS FURTHER DOWNGRADING OF CO COUNCILS

15 December 2014 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Fears that local authorities could face further downgrading and loss of services and responsibilities following on from the recent local government reforms that saw the abolition of Town Councils have been voiced by Cathaoirleach of Monaghan Co Council Pádraig McNally.

Speaking at the Council’s December meeting, the Fianna Fáil public representative, who is National President of the Association of Irish Local Government, said that local authorities had seen no benefit from the reputed €850 million in savings generated by the reforms but instead had experienced “cut after cut after cut”.

Colr McNally was speaking in the context of a circular on proposals to share library services between counties, which the members agreed to place as an item on the agenda of their January meeting for a full discussion.

Fears that the status of the Co Library Headquarters in Clones could change as a result of the proposals had been raised at previous meetings, although Chief Executive Eugene Cummins at the December meeting expressed the view that Monaghan “did not have that much to fear” from proposals to share the delivery of library services with Co Cavan.

In relation to the circular distributed to the members, Director of Services Adge King said it was being proposed that the role of libraries in the future would be much wider, with a greater function in the provision of information services, business and job skill support, literacy support, learning supports and services, and health and wellbeing support.

The document advocated that the role and remit of the libraries should go way beyond the provision of books and access to the Internet, with the service having the potential to deliver a major role in society.

Mr King said the percentage of the population visiting libraries in Ireland was generally less than 20% and sometimes as low as 11%, while it was much closer to 50% in some European countries.

The circular spoke of dividing library services into four bands on the basis of population size, expressing the view that a library service should be catering for a population of 100,000. There was a proposal for shared services between Cavan and Monaghan.

Mr King emphasised that there had been no consultation between the counties on this proposal as yet. The intention would be to arrange a meeting with the management in Cavan before Christmas and have a discussion on the document.

When the Cathaoirleach asked if the proposals would eliminate each county having its own Co Librarian, Mr King said that no proposals had been put in place yet. The circular expressed an expectation of progress before June 2015, which was not that long away. While the document talked of a single county librarian per 100,000 population, there was no talk in it of rationalisation of services or offices, but it was talking of increased purchasing power for libraries.

The circular expressed the view that a shared service would provide better opportunity to have staff who….

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