Information Society Minister and Government chief whip Mary Hanafin TD said Friday that on the question of whether or not Ireland needs an e-Minister or an e-czar, she believes that every government minister should be an e-minister in his/her own right.
Speaking at the release of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) Syllabus Version 4.0, Hanafin said that IT, the internet and e-business matters to every government department and that every minister of a department, from communications and agriculture to trade and education, should consider themselves to be an e-minister in terms of how technology affects communities and workers in these sectors.
“We are constantly meeting together to push progress and to meet the targets of the New Connections report by 2005,” she said. The New Connections strategy documents sets numerous goals for bringing Ireland into the top tier of e-nations, including having over 2Mbps (megabits per second) of internet access to every home and business by 2005 in keeping with European e2005 communications directive.
Minister Hanafin highlighted the efforts on behalf of Kerry County Council in terms of e-procurement and the cross-border e-government initiatives between Donegal and Derry as examples of where e-government is working in Ireland.
In terms of ECDL she lauded county councils and businesses around the country that have worked to ensure that civil servants and public representatives go for a European Computer Driving Licence.
Established in Dublin in 1997 by the Irish Computer Society to bring citizens throughout Europe up to speed on the use of technology, some three million people throughout the world are now ECDL certified, with some 12 million tests having been conducted through a network of 15,000 test centres.
According to Dave Carpenter, CEO of the ECDL Foundation, the test is now available in over 27 different languages. “In Ireland over 220,000 people have taken the ECDL test, representing 6pc of the overall population and 12pc of Ireland’s working population,” he said.
Carpenter added that the ECDL Foundation is on the brink of securing a major deal with Britain’s 1.3 million-strong National Health Service, the world’s third biggest single workforce after the Chinese Army and the Indian Rail Network.
Key concepts of Syllabus Version 4.0 include security issues such as viruses and downloading from the internet, the use of e-commerce for everyday transactions and user awareness of content copyright from the internet. The use of lifestyle technologies including digital cameras and personal digital assistants is also covered, as are environmental issues for the user such as recycling printed documents and printer cartridges.
By John Kennedy