More than 100 people attended the opening of the new Adult Education Services building in Roscommon town last Tuesday afternoon by the Minister for Lifelong Learning Seán Haughey. Minister Haughey officially opened the state-of-the-art centre in Castle Court House, Castle Street and he described it as ‘a concrete example of the new opportunities that are available throughout Ireland’ for those interested in adult education. The facility has been provided with funding from the Department of Education and Science and will be the centre of VEC Services in Co. Roscommon. ‘In recent years, there has been a remarkable and very welcome growth in demand for second-chance, adult and further education. The Government has striven to meet this demand by providing unprecedented funding for a wide variety of educational schemes and programmes,’ said Minister Haughey in his address to guests on Tuesday afternoon. The Chairperson of Roscommon VEC, Cllr. Tom Crosby and the Vocational Education Committee’s CEO Larry O’Farrelly also spoke at a ceremony that was attended by the Mayor of Roscommon John Kelly and by Cllrs. John Cummins, Tony Waldron, Paddy Kilduff and Orla Leydon. ‘I am delighted and privileged to be here today to open this new facility,’ said Minister Haughey. ‘This centre in Roscommon is a concrete example of the new opportunities that are available throughout Ireland and with the range of services in this area that are available I know the centre will be an invaluable addition to the community,’ he said. Minister Haughey praised the staff of Roscommon VEC for the work that is being done in adult education in the county and urged the people of Roscommon to visit the centre and explore the possibility of taking an educational course. ‘The work that is being done here is truly exemplary and I would urge everyone in Roscommon to visit the centre, talk to one of the guidance officers and see what it has to offer you,’ he said. Addressing the issue of lifelong learning more generally, Minister Haughey said that it has a ‘central role’ in Irish social and economic life. ‘The Lifelong Learning emphasis gives coherence and a policy framework to the concept of continuing education beyond the formal schooling system. It encompasses every variety of formal and informal education, from pre-school through to post-retirement. ‘In this new Ireland, people have the freedom to expand their horizons beyond their current employment and level of education. The traditional notion of education being confined to the age of 5 to one’s early 20s is being challenged and schemes such as the ‘Back to education’ initiative ensure employability and inclusion in this society,’ noted the Minister. Mr. Tommy Greene presented Seán Haughey TD with a lino print piece of art at the event. Cllr. Tom Crosby thanked him for his attendance. The CEO of Roscommon VEC, Larry O’Farrelly, also thanked Minister Haughey and commented that 3,500 people from Roscommon had been ‘dealt with’ by the adult education section of the VEC in the last year. ‘In a society that is judged by how it treats its disadvantaged members, county Roscommon is doing very well,’ said Mr. O’Farrelly. The VEC CEO also noted that he and the staff of the VEC look forward to ‘increased participation by the public’ in lifelong education in coming months because of the opening of these new buildings.