Christmas 2020 will be like no other we have experienced and I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge how extremely difficult this year has been for everyone. I would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to the staff and students across our Schools and Centres throughout the county who have contributed so much to the wonderful work of Donegal ETB during 2020 despite the circumstances.
2020 began as usual with our Manager’s Seminar in January but February brought lots of talk of a virus even as we continued with our awards ceremonies for our FET students. March 12 will be forever etched in our collective memories and in the days, weeks and months that followed our diaries and our lives were utterly changed. I acknowledge the many outstanding achievements at every level of our service during 2020 which allowed Donegal ETB to continue to deliver a service of the highest quality to the people of Donegal. The commitment and dedication of our staff members, led by our managers, in continuing to provide a quality Teaching and Learning service, which is the primary business of Donegal ETB, has to be warmly applauded as we all struggled to adapt to a new way of doing business. Our three pillars are led by our Directors; Cróna Gallagher (Further Education and Training (FET)), Jim McGlynn (Organisation Support and Development (OSD)) and Dr Martin Gormley (Schools) who do an outstanding job leading staff within their areas. Of course, our support staff are a vital part of the success of our Education and Training Board without whom we could not offer the range of services that we do. Our cleaning and caretaking staff took on a mammoth task as we prepared to reopen our schools and centres in the Autumn and they continue to work so hard to allow teaching and learning to continue; the ongoing cooperation of our students, families and communities has been essential to our efforts in this regard.
The pandemic has brought out the best in us and Donegal ETB put its collective shoulder to the wheel during 2020. Staff supported businesses, delivered food parcels, posted worksheets, organised online graduations and got Leaving Cert students through a very difficult year.
Our new Chairperson, Cllr Albert Doherty, was recently elected and I would like to wish him and our new Deputy Chairperson, Cllr Gary Doherty, every best wish as they undertake their new roles. We thank and commend our outgoing Chair and Deputy Chair, Mr Geoffrey Browne and Cllr Rena Donaghey for their excellent work, despite being hampered by restrictions. Our Board suffered the loss of our esteemed colleague Mr Noel Rodden in November and in heartfelt tributes at its recent meeting, members remembered Noel as a dedicated and caring Board member who worked tirelessly for the people of the county through his membership of Boards of Management and the TUI. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam uasal.
Our long serving Director of OSD, Mr Jim McGlynn is retiring following almost 43 years of public service. We send best wishes to Jim on his retirement which is truly well-deserved.
I have mentioned the sad loss of our Board Member, Noel Rodden and I also, at this time, wish to remember all those who are no longer with us and extend our sincere sympathy to all who have sadly been bereaved during 2020.
Never have we looked forward more to the New Year, which we hope will bring with it an end to the devastating consequences of the pandemic. 2021 will be a better one for us all and the trials of 2020 have made us stronger in so many ways. We have learned new ways to do things with the help of technology and I know that our innovative spirit will prevail as we take on the new challenges next year. I wish everyone well with their endeavours for the year ahead but most of all I wish good health for you and your families and loved ones. Please enjoy a safe and peaceful break over Christmas and the New Year and we continue to encourage you to adhere to government health guidelines on COVID-19. We look forward to 2021 and the continuation of our work on behalf of the people of Donegal.
“The sun rises in spite of everything and the far cities are beautiful and bright” – Derek Mahon, Everything Is Going To Be All Right.