Fianna Fáil councillors react to VEC cuts

FIANNA FÁIL councillors may raise concerns with Tánaiste Mary Coughlan about her plans to cut the number of Vocational Education Committees by more than half.

The boards of the 33 existing VECs, due to be reduced to 16 under proposals announced on Tuesday, include more than 300 city, county and town councillors. But this number is likely to fall significantly under the plans that would see all but four VECs merged with one or two of their neighbouring committees.

Gerry Horkan, chairperson of the Fianna Fáil national councillors’ forum, said VEC members are willing to look at the proposal and see if genuine savings can be made and help increase or improve education services.

“But you would want to see councillors who have been involved and playing a role continuing to play that role, and to ensure that local democracy is represented,” said Mr Horkan, a member of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

The IMPACT union which represents 1,200 VEC administrative staff has claimed the amalgamations will annihilate many non-school education services, such as adult education, operation of college grant schemes, and school transport systems. But it also believes jobs in small and medium businesses could be under threat if the headquarters and other offices of some VECs are closed and staff moved elsewhere.

The proposed cut goes well beyond the reduction to 22 VECs proposed by An Bord Snip Nua, but it could offer savings of more than €4.5 million a year due to reduction in the number of senior staff and disposal of some VEC properties.

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