VEC amalgamation is a “huge mistake”

THE Minister for Education’s decision to amalgamate Co Leitrim VEC with committees in Mayo and Sligo has been described as “a huge mistake” which will not achieve any savings for the Government and will lead to a serious curtailment of face-to-face services.

THE Minister for Education’s decision to amalgamate Co Leitrim VEC with committees in Mayo and Sligo has been described as “a huge mistake” which will not achieve any savings for the Government and will lead to a serious curtailment of face-to-face services.

Co Leitrim VEC Chairperson, Damian Brennan, told the Leitrim Observer “The reality is the move to amalgamate will make VECs much less efficient and it will cost as much to run these larger bodies, if not more, than it does to run the existing VECs.

“This will be a disaster, just like the amalgamation of the health boards under the HSE.”

He argued that staff will not be able to interact on a face to face level under the new VEC and said the move showed just how seriously undervalued the role and contribution of local VECs had become.

“Of course Leitrim has a reputation for punching above its weight but, certainly, being amalgamated with two, much larger counties, will make it very difficult for us,” he acknowledged.

Co Leitrim VEC CEO, John Blunnie, added that the distances involved in this three county VEC would make administration “very unwieldy”.

“A year ago we were told we were going to be amalgamated with Roscommon and Longford and we had accepted that to a degree but combining Mayo and Sligo with Leitrim is without precedent and since Leitrim only has one eighth of the total population of the three counties combined we are very concerned,” he said.

Both Mr Brennan and Mr Blunnie agree the amalgamation will make it far more difficult for the county to argue the case for hosting the regional VEC headquarters, although both stress that Leitrim would continue to fight for this role.

See this week’s Leitrim Observer for the full story.