As we approach Christmas 2022 I would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to the ETB communities across our Schools, Centres and Administrative Offices throughout the county who have contributed so much to the wonderful work of Donegal ETB during 2022 as we exited the difficult years during 2020 and 2021.
Our three pillars are led by our Directors; Cróna Gallagher and Ciaran O’Brien (Further Education and Training (FET)), Andy McGovern, (Organisation Support and Development (OSD)) and Dr Martin Gormley (Schools) who do an outstanding job leading staff within their areas. Cróna retired in June 2022 and I would like to sincerely acknowledge her outstanding commitment to Donegal VEC/ETB during her years of service and to wish her all the very best as she enters the next phase of life. My best wishes to Ciaran as he embarks on a new phase of his career with Donegal ETB.
2022 began with success at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition of a number of our schools and it was heartening to see these activities returning to our schools and centres following the pandemic.
Our new Strategy Statement 2022-2026 was launched in March and we look forward to the implementation of the objectives while being guided by our mission, vision and values. It is worth mentioning these values as they are the guiding light for the work of our organisation: Excellence, Equality, Care, Community and Respect. We continue to work on developing the ethos of our schools and centres and what this means for all who attend our schools and centres and are assisted in this regard by ETBI.
A FET highlight for 2022 was the official launch of the first certified weaving course in Ireland in Cill Chartha which happened on 1 April, the same day that the Atlantic Technological University came into being. We have been working closely with the University to improve pathways and allow for joint initiatives between Donegal ETB and ATU.
We opened a new FET Centre on the Port Road in Letterkenny during 2022 which has increased our visibility and footprint within the town centre. A variety of programmes are located there with further plans expected to be rolled out shortly. Our annual FET Fair was back at the Radisson Hotel in Letterkenny in November and it was indeed heartening to see the crowds of potential students engaging with our staff on the day and during the evening before.
The arrival to Donegal in March of our Ukrainian citizens saw our English classes mushroom in addition to the numbers in our schools. Donegal ETB has welcomed those fleeing the war with open arms and each staff member in collaboration with the REALT team has to be warmly congratulated for their efforts in this regard.
Our Retired Staff Association was launched recently and it was exciting to see such interest from retired staff members in being involved. I wish the association well as it prepares for the inaugural AGM.
Each and every staff member has their part to play and our service to the communities of Co Donegal could and would not happen without the dedication and passion shown by all.
Our new Chairperson, Cllr Michael McBride was recently elected, and I would like to wish him and our new Deputy Chairperson, Mr Patsy McVicar every best wish as they undertake their new roles. We thank and commend our outgoing Chair and Deputy Chair, Cllr Barry Sweeny and Cllr Martin Harley for their excellent work during 2022.
I wish to remember all those who are no longer with us and extend my sincere sympathy to all who have sadly been bereaved during 2022 and in particular we must remember the Creeslough tragedy which plunged our county into an unspeakable period of grief. Mulroy College was particularly badly affected and our thoughts continue to be with our school community in Milford as they and the people of Creeslough struggle to deal with the awful events of 7 October.
I wish everyone well 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 the first post pandemic Christmas and the New Year. We look forward with hope to 2023 and the continuation of our work on behalf of the people of Donegal.