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Tech sees Loughrea go transatlantic

Loughrea Municipal District made history recently, with its first ever hybrid meeting with an online element.

The Annual General Meeting of the Loughrea MD took place in person at Galway County Council’s Loughrea Area Office on Barrack Street, and online via Microsoft Teams.

New technology had been installed in the meeting room to facilitate a hybrid meeting.

Nine Councillors elected in the June 7 Local Election were present at the meeting, and one – County Councillor Shane Curley (FF) – attended remotely.

Cllr Curley, who was in America, said it was an ‘early start this morning’ for him –10am commencement in Loughrea was 5am in New York.

Normally, Loughrea MD starts at 11am and the earlier time caught two councillors off-guard – Fine Gael’s newcomer Councillor Paul Killilea and poll-topper Councillor PJ Murphy both apologised for arriving late for a meeting that lasted 40 minutes.

Cllr Curley said he preferred to attend meetings in person but was pleased that the technology was now in place to facilitate remote attendance at future Loughrea MD meetings.

Outgoing Cathaoirleach, Councillor Jimmy McClearn (FG) confirmed to the Connacht Tribune that the Standing Orders, or rules of how meetings are conducted, did not preclude online attendance.

His successor in the chair, Councillor Martina Kinane (FF) said it worked well, but there needed to be some reconfiguration of the room so she could see the screen with online attendees.

It’s understood the online element, and hybrid meetings, will formally be inserted into Loughrea MD’s new Standing Orders for the next five years when they meet again next Monday, July 8.

Meanwhile, Councillors had a workshop on Monday, July 1, to discuss the Chief Executive’s Material Alterations to the Draft Loughrea Local Area Plan.

They must submit motions by today, July 4, which will then be debated at a special July 15 meeting dedicated to the Local Area Plan.

This meeting will be hybrid, too, but remote attendees online are not allowed to contribute to debate, and have observer status only, Cllr McClearn clarified.

Last Thursday was the first meeting of the new Loughrea MD, which is made up of five councillors in Gort/Kinvara Local Electoral Area and five from Loughrea LEA.

They were Shane Curley, Jimmy McClearn, Declan Kelly, Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher, Ivan Canning, PJ Murphy, Martina Kinane, Geralding Donohue, Paul Killilea, and Gerry Finnerty.

Pictured: Cllr Shane Curley makes a little bit of history, joining the Loughrea Area meeting from across the Atlantic.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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