Galway City Council could be without a manager for up to six months once the current incumbent Joe MacGrath leaves to take up his new position as North Tipperary County Manager.
Mr MacGrath’s immanent departure has attracted criticism from some councillors while the possible length of time it may take to appoint a successor has drawn expressions of concern from others.
Mr MacGrath recently attended interviews for the position of North Tipperary County Manager and was last week informed he had been accepted for the post. However he will not be formally offered the position until that council meets next month.
Provided councillors ratify his appointment he will be able to resign as Galway city manager in mid-July and take up the job in his native county (he is originally from Nenagh ) in late August. It is expected that the Galway City Council’s director of services for housing and corporate services Joe O’Neill will take over as caretaker manager until a successor is appointed.
However it could be September or October before that happens. The position will not be advertised until after Mr MacGrath is formally accepted by North Tipperary County Council, which could be mid to late July.
Interviews will take place in late August/early September. Once a suitable candidate is identified, s/he will need to be approved by the city councillors, possibly bringing the process out to October.
Fianna Fáil councillor Michael J Crowe paid tribute to Mr MacGrath but is concerned over the length of time it may take to appoint a replacement.
“I wish Mr MacGrath well in his new position,” he told the Galway Advertiser, “but he will be a loss to the city and his going leaves a void. Joe O’Neill will do a good job as acting city manager, but it does not help things to leave the position vacant and in Galway in the current economic climate, we need the position filled as quickly as possible.”
Fine Gael councillor Pádraig Conneely was highly critical of Mr MacGrath’s departure and alleged that Mr MacGrath had previously applied for positions in Clare County Council.
“He’s been waiting for an opportunity to leave the city so I would have to question his commitment,” he said. “I told Mr MacGrath many times that I am in the council for the long haul and that I will still be there long after he is gone, and so it has come to pass.”
There is speculation that Mr O’Neill and the council’s director of services for transportation and infrastructure Ciarán Hayes, will seek to become the next Galway city manager.
However the job is open to anyone with the relevant experience, so there is also the strong possibility that the successful candidate could come also come from outside the current ranks of Galway City Council officials.