The Communications Office provides information services to the elected members, staff, media and the general public, as well as providing administrative support to the Cathaoirleach.
Sligo Local Authorities publish a quarterly magazine for the general public, titled ‘Contact’, which provides news and information from Sligo County Council and Sligo Borough Council. The magazine is distributed with a local newspaper, and is also available from a network of outlets throughout the county. An on-line version of the magazine is available on www.sligococo.ie, and an ‘audio file’ of the magazine is also produced to assist persons with a visual impairment.
To supplement the quarterly magazine, the Communications Office also publishes a monthly enewsletter. e-Contact is circulated to individuals and groups who register their interest on-line. A ‘hard copy’ of the e-newsletter is also available to those without access to a computer.
The Communications Office works with the Information Technology section to maintain and update the Sligo Local Authorities’ websites. The sites provide on-line access to application forms and guidelines, contact details for all the services, weekly roads report, monthly news digest, and all the current advertisements and recruitment notices. During 2006 the site was upgraded to ensure it was accessible to people with visual impairments and people with coordination difficulties, and a newly introduced content management system means the site can facilitate presentation of the information in other languages.
Under its ‘Open Local Government’ initiative, local school children are invited to County Hall to attend a monthly meeting of the Council. The children also attend a presentation on the role and services of the Council, and are given an information pack of brochures, newsletters and reports.
The Cathaoirleach’s Awards Scheme was introduced in 2000 to reward the many volunteers in County Sligo who have given special service to their community. The award winners in 2006 were:
The Communications Office co-ordinated arrangements for a number of receptions at County Hall during 2006 including a reception for the Sligo Ladies All Ireland Junior Football Champions. The Office also liaised with other sections to host visiting Government Ministers. Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr Dick Roche TD. visited many of our group schemes in July 2006 and officiated at the signing of the contract for Sligo Main Drainage in September 2006. Sligo County Council also hosted a working group of the Norwegian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Transport and Communications in February 2006.
Sligo County Council is committed to providing universal access for all. The Government launched the National Disability Strategy in 2004 to underpin the participation of people with disabilities in society. The Strategy builds on existing policy and legislation, from the Barcelona Declaration to the Equality & Employment Laws, and reinforces the Government’s commitment to social inclusion for people with disabilities. It is a framework
of positive action measures to mainstream service provision for people with disabilities within the state agencies. The Strategy and the recently enacted Disability Act have placed significant responsibilities on local authorities to ensure that ‘access barriers’ are removed and a more integrated approach to accessing services and facilities is provided.
During 2006, Sligo County Council has embraced the challenge presented to it and this process is evolving. The Council is continually striving to improve integrated access to information, services, training, employment and the built environment for all its customers. The Council works in partnership with local disability groups to achieve best practice in service provision. A process of consultation and disability awareness is on-going within the organisation, through partnership and training.