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GREATER investment in remote working can help women access leadership roles across multiple organisations, an Ennis county councillor has said.

Both diversity and inclusion have been severely impacted as a result of the pandemic, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) highlighted. “A lot of women feel they are not able access leadership roles in organisations due to COVID”. He said an increased investment in technology to facilitate remote working would help women climb the ranks in the workplace.

Speaking at the November meeting of Clare County Council, he asked that the IT and communications equipment in the Council Chamber “be upgraded to enable a “new normal” or hybrid method of holding statutory, Municipal District and SPC committee meetings in the Chamber now and into the future”.

Already €1.5m has been spent on IT by the local authority from January to September of this year which the County Council have attributed to remote working, the expansion of DigiClare and an upgrade of its financial management system.

“It is accepted that an upgrade of the existing information technology in the Council Chamber is required to facilitate efficient hybrid meetings,” Director of Finance, Noeleen Fitzgerald replied to Cllr Flynn’s proposal.

Currently, a short-term measure has seen audio integrated with Microsoft Teams to facilitate hybrid meetings. “Work is ongoing to procure an upgraded and fully integrated audio/visual system for the Council Chamber and the upgrade will be scheduled in the coming months,” she confirmed.

Speaking virtually at the meeting, Cllr Flynn warned that the reality of living with COVID-19 could remain “for a significant time”. He noted that “glitches” were frequent with the meetings under the current format as he stressed the need for an investment in “a proper sound and audio system”.

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