Supporting Communities in a Challenging Year

Supporting Communities in a Challenging Year

Acting Chief executive Tom Kilfeather reflects on a difficult 2020


‘When we reflect on 2020, it is hard to identify many positives, but one significant highlight was the resilience and spirit of our county's volunteers who mobilised to support their neighbours and friends.  Much of this effort was channelled through the Sligo Community Support Forum, and of its most important initiatives was the Freephone helpline, set up to protect and assist the most vulnerable people in our community during COVID.  It was heartening to see local communities and key agencies working in partnership with the Local Authority to support people most in need.

Supporting business

The past year has been a very difficult one for many businesses in our county. Sligo County Council has provided a range of supports;  hrough our Local Enterprise Office, we have provided Restart grants, trading online vouchers and business continuity vouchers.  The local authority has administered a Commercial Rates waiver to eligible businesses, including the vast majority of SMEs, for the nine months since the pandemic took hold, supported by a €900 million special funding allocation from the Government.

Sligo Chamber’s Gift Card Scheme has yielded €95,000 in revenue to mid December, an increase on €43,000 on the 2019 campaign.  Sligo County Council has worked with local media to promote a ‘Shop Local’ campaign in early December, including a very successful roadshow calling to towns throughout the county.

The New Year will, of course, bring many of the same challenges for businesses that they have faced throughout 2020.  The first quarter of any year is often challenging for businesses.  We will continue to respond to requests from the hospitality and retail sector for ways to accommodate increased consumer demand.  Local tourism will also be important during the first part of 2021.

Flexible and imaginative

This has been a demanding and difficult year for every sector of our society, and our staff and elected members have worked tirelessly to provide supports to our communities.  Our Council has also had to be flexible and imaginative in the way we conduct our business.  Staff right across the organisation made huge sacrifices and adopted many roles different to their normal work arrangements, to impact so positively on so many people’s lives particularly the vulnerable in our communities, while also assisting the business community.  This work was carried out without fuss while still delivering ‘day to day’ Council services.

Elected Members

I want to commend the Cathaoirleach Councillor Dara Mulvey and his colleagues for their unqualified support as we worked together to deal with the various issues presented by the Covid Pandemic.  The Elected Members were hugely supportive of the measures taken to assist communities during Covid, and also responded to new restrictions in a way that ensured our Council meetings were held in a safe manner.


Our library service is one example where local authorities had to adapt and be innovative.  This year, due to restrictions such as the closure of our libraries for parts of the year, we introduced rapid changes to service delivery.  We have promoted our eLibrary services like eBooks, audiobooks, online newspapers, magazines and e-learning courses, which all library members can access, as well as delivering a ‘click and collect’ service.


As we work through the next phase of this pandemic, Sligo County Council will continue to have a pivotal role to play in delivering or coordinating various business and community supports.  I believe the many capital programmes underway in the county will provide valuable impetus to the local economy, and the people of County Sligo can be assured the Elected Members and staff will be working tirelessly on their behalf again in 2021.'