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29/07/2021

Longford councillors bemoan lack of Covid-19 forum input

Cllr Peggy Nolan (FG).

Cllr Peggy Nolan

Elected members of Longford County Council should have had more of a role in the council’s Covid-19 response team, according to Cllr Peggy Nolan.

At the May meeting of Longford County Council, Cllr Nolan commended the council for the setting up and running of the community response group, and for the support it has offered to the most vulnerable members of society since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis.

“But the only part we (elected members) are expected to play is to notify the public of the numbers they can contact,” she said.

“It’s glaringly obvious that we as elected members were left out of this and to me it’s not acceptable.

“A year ago, when the council was formed, we promised that we would be the community champions.”

Cllr Nolan proposed that cathaoirleachs of Longford, Granard and Ballymahon Municipal Districts be made full members of the forum and that the forum be held every two weeks for elected members to ensure that their wealth of knowledge about the needs of the people be put to good use.

“This virus will be impacting on all our lives for the forseeable future and, when asked what we did, I would like to say that we worked as a team,” she said.

President of the AILG, Cllr Mick Cahill, agreed that councillors should have had more of an input.

“For too long now, we as local councillors have been ignored and side-lined when it has come to matters of local government, whether it be the loss of powers or responsibilities,” he said.

“When I became President of the AILG, I vowed that I would stand up and be counted and finally say ‘enough is enough’. No more lip service from national politicians about how ‘valued’ the councillor is. We all know that the platitudes are just that - platitudes.

“It behoves us all to stand up for councillors and defend our position within local government.”

In response, Chief Executive of Longford County Council Paddy Mahon thanked all elected members for their support and said that Cllr Nolan’s motion was “very much received”.

He added that the community response forum was announced immediately after the Taoiseach’s initial speech on Covid-19 but said that a full update would be made and returned to elected members.

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