‘Historic’ day for Longford as MD council meetings move online

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The Longford Municipal District meeting held on April 3, 2020, marked a significant historical milestone for Local Government in Longford, when the council held its first Municipal District meeting using digital remote working technology.

This was done thanks to the determination of elected members who, despite the Covid-19 emergency, were able to adapt and use technology to continue their important work.

Christine Collins, who is Longford County Council’s Digital Project Lead, spent the last week working with elected members to ensure they were all up to speed and working comfortably with this technology.

“All the elected members of Longford and Granard Municipal District have been a pleasure to work with over the past week in relation to this first digital council meeting,” she said.

“They have been eager to use remote meetings documentation and conferencing technology to help ensure compliance with the measures introduced to limit the spread of the Corona-19 Virus in county Longford, and yet still complete their work as elected members.”

Councillor Seamus Butler, Cathaoirleach Longford Municipal District endorsed the process and the experience.

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“Thanks to the IT section, the executive and administration staff of Longford County Council, we had our first ever remote meeting of Longford Municipal District on Friday, April 3, 2020,” he said.

“While it did provide its challenges, it went very well and we completed the task of allotting the Community Grants 2020 to so many deserving voluntary groups in our District.

“I want to thank my fellow Councillors for their cooperation and forbearance. It was a shining example of we can all do when we work together to get us through the Covid-19 crisis.”

Mr John McKeon, Director of Services responsible for Longford Municipal District commended the IT Section and the effectiveness of the digital remote working technology in the context of Council Meetings and also the historical significance.

“I believe that this may be the first instance of the use of this digital remote working platform in the Local Authority Sector, another first for Longford County Council; it is testament to everyone involved that we got our business done effectively and efficiently and provided some certainty and comfort to so many deserving Longford organisations at a time of unprecedented crisis,” said Mr McKeon.

“It shows what can be done when we embrace the ethos of smarter working and embrace the technology now available to us. This has the potential to become the template from which we can work in so many ways well into the future.”

He also offered his deepest sympathies to people who have been affected by the current Covid-19 emergency across the county.

He reminded all about the dedicated community call helpline which has been established by Longford County Council to assist at-risk older or vulnerable people who are recommended to cocoon and remain in their homes during this current period of the public health emergency.

“Assistance is provided in accessing essential non-emergency and non-medical supports and advice during the emergency,” he said.

A confidential phoneline service is available on 043 3344255 or 1800 300 122.

This was established by the new Covid-19 Longford Community Response Forum with its primary focus on ensuring that vulnerable members of the community or those living alone can access deliveries of groceries, medicine and fuels. The helpline has been operational since March 30.

On a final note in relation to the first Longford Municipal Meeting being held digitally, Mr McKeon complimented the local authority members and the staff involved, including Cathaoirleach of Longford MD Cllr Seamus Butler, Danny Lynch and Christine Collins from the Council IT Section and, Mark McNerney, Administrative Officer for Longford MD and the Councils Meetings Administrator, Anne Lee, for their work in making the historic first digital meeting of Longford MD happen.

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The Granard Municipal district meeting took place on April 6, using digital remote working technology, marking another significant milestone for Local Government in the area.

Councillor PJ Reilly, Cathaoirleach of Granard Municipal District stated; “Granard Municipal District were delighted to hold our meeting today using online technology and to allocate the community grants 2020 funding to our voluntary groups.

“These groups more than ever will need these funds as we are living in such difficult circumstances. 

“We were delighted Senator Micheál Carrigy was able to join the online meeting, and we all had the opportunity to congratulate Micheál and to wish Micheál and Family well in the future as a Senator”.

“On behalf of the Granard MD I would like to thank the executive, the administrative staff and especially Mr. Daniel Lynch (Head of Information Systems) and Ms Christine Collins (Broadband Officer and A\Project Leader) from the Council’s IT Department who guided us to our first successful on-line Granard Municipal District meeting.”

The Ballymahon Municipal district meeting took place on April 7, 2020 using digital remote working technology, marking another significant milestone for Local Government in the area.

Councillor Pat O’Toole, Cathaoirleach of Ballymahon Municipal District stated, "It was a privilege as Chairperson of Ballymahon Municipal District Council to host our first meeting via the use of modern technology ie Microsoft Teams, which enabled the elected members and council staff conduct the business of the meeting from their homes on Tuesday last.

"A very special word of appreciation to the Council’s IT staff for their excellent support in preparation for and during the course of the meeting."

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