It was an evening of firsts for the new Longford/Westmeath Education and Training Board on Monday evening. Firstly it was the inaugural meeting of the newly amalgamated education body, the first time the meeting was held in Longford and the new CEO of Longford/Westmeath ETB, Dr Christy Duffy - who addressed the meeting - is the first elected CEO of any ETB in the country.
“This is unchartered territory,” he said, adding that it was important for all members to get a picture of what was ahead. “The new Longford/Westmeath ETB will have over 800 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the region.”
Dr Duffy went on to say that one of his main goals was to establish work places of “dignity, equality and respect” and he also pointed to the financial investment in each locality. “We have 2,500 young people in second level education; four Youthreach centres with over 100 places and that’s 100 people every year who get a chance to build a better future for themselves.”
While ETBs are a whole new entity, Dr Duffy said that the former VECs would have a “big voice” that would reach out and care for those in the communities where they were based. “We need to find away to respect the past, but not be bound by it,” the new CEO added.
“We are in a great position to influence so many people and it is the people in the ETB that will make everything happen; I will certainly commit myself to the task and new challenges that lie ahead of us.
If the new Longford Westmeath ETB is to work, it has to work in both Longford and in Westmeath and I am determined that we provide a first class Education and Training Board here.”
Acting CEO, Rosemary Johnston then added, “This is an historic day and we are all embarking on a new journey together..”
“We all recognise that there will be challenges ahead and we all have the ability to meet these challenges as we look to the future together- a future with a commomn goal- that of education provision in this area,” she said. “We want new challenges that go beyond the 21st century and we want an exciting and dynamic sector in Longford/Westmeath.”
Cllr Michael Dollard (Lab) was then elected chairman while Cllr Séan Farrell was elected vice chair . “I intend to be a very fair chairman and going forward I believe that this will be a very successful training board,”Cllr Dollard said. “These are changing times and we will collectively deal with all those challenges and changes.”