Future of library and fire services still uncertain

Confusion remains over the future of Westmeath library and fire services, after concerns were raised that services are to be combined with their Longford counterparts.

Cllrs Frankie Keena and Paul Hogan raised the issue at Monday’s Athlone Municipal District meeting, and in spite of the council’s response that “there is no proposal to make any cut to fire or library services” there were high levels of concern.

“It could dilute services, and the danger is we might never have permanent county library posts, and Longford will take precedence,” said Cllr Keena.

Cllr Hogan said there were mixed messages coming from the council, and that there is huge concern in the trade union representing library staff.

“We are looking for more security than that. The whole ethos of this municipal district is the provision of municipal services, and fire and library services are essential.”

Cllr John Dolan said there was “no smoke without fire”.

The future of the county’s library service will be discussed at the next meeting of the Housing, Corporate and Culture SPC. “There are proposals to look at the structure of management in the library service, but we do this all the time. The same service will be provided to the public in terms of library opening hours and number of libraries. Our focus is always to maintain frontline services,” said director of services Barry Kehoe.

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