The new headquarters of the enlarged regional VEC which will include Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim will be located in Castlebar, The Mayo News has learned.
The location of the new VEC headquarters is due to be announced today (Tuesday) and a Fine Gael source told The Mayo News that they are ‘90 per cent certain’ the headquarters will be in Castlebar.
The expected announcement today that the headquarters are to be located in Castlebar will come as welcome news particularly for the current VEC staff who were unsure if they would have to relocate to another location.
During the summer the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn announced that the Department were reducing the number of VEC’s from 33 to 16 through the amalgamation of committees. The previous government had also announced its intention to cut the number of VECs to 16 with Mayo to merge with Sligo but under the new plan Mayo will now merge with Sligo and Leitrim.
The merger of the new VEC is expected to take place after the next local elections in 2004 but in the meantime the Department asked existing committees to make submissions on where to locate the new headquarters.
Dr Katie Sweeney, CEO of Mayo VEC told last Thursday’s meeting of the Mayo VEC committee that she had sent submissions to the Department outlining reasons for locating the new headquarters in Castlebar. Dr Sweeney said Castlebarwas the best positioned to have the headquarters located and said the considerations of the staff had to be taken into account.
“The staff of County Galway, Galway City and Roscommon VEC heard on local radio where their headquarters was to be located. There was no contact with any CEO or staff and I don’t want that to happen here,” she said.
Cllr Jarlath Munnelly, Chairman of Mayo VEC told The Mayo News yesterday that he had not heard Castlebar was to be the new location but felt it was the logical location.
“I have made submissions on this to the Minister and spoke to the Taoiseach on this and I would be hopeful the headquarters will be located in Castlebar. Mayo is by and far the largest of the three counties and it would be logical to keep the headquarters in Castlebar,” he said.
The amalgamation of the three VEC’s angered many of the members at last week’s committee meeting of Mayo VEC.