The appointment of the new city manager, Brendan McGrath, was unanimously passed by councillors at last Monday night’s council meeting, however many expressed disappointment that the post did not go to someone “in-house” while others questioned if the city was best served by having a total of seven city managers in the past 14 years.
In the coming weeks interim city manager and Galway city native Joe O’Neill is due to step down from the position he has held for the past three years, handing over the reins to Mr McGrath who is currently the Meath county manager.
Although he welcomed the appointment Fine Gael councillor Frank Fahy said that he was disappointed that the position did not go to someone “in-house” such as Mr O’Neill, or his colleague director of services Ciaran Hayes, who have “gone beyond the call of duty”. These sentiments were shared by Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Crowe who said that he was disappointed with the outcome, that it did not go to Mr O’Neill or Mr Hayes, but that he would respect the decision and that Mr McGrath who faces a “significant challenge” will have his full support.
However, Fine Gael councillor Padraig Conneely had a different view and welcomed the appointment of “an outsider”, adding that it is necessary and gives him more confidence in the appointment procedures of the public service. “New blood is needed,” said Cllr Conneely, who added that Mr McGrath has been acting manager in Meath for the past six months and has a good track record. “We will need all of that here, this is a broad city and I hope he has the vision for it. The city needs leadership and innovation,” he said.
Leading the tributes Independent councillor Declan McDonnell thanked Mr O’Neill for “three years of excellent stewardship adding that he always placed significant importance on the “welfare and economic drive of the city”. “I support the appointment. We have been well served in the past Joe, and previous managers. I’d like to wish Joe every success and thank him for the time he has given to the city.”
It was Independent councillor Catherine Connolly who noted that in her 14 years as a council representative there have been seven city managers adding that this raises serious questions over how the city is run, the commitment it takes, and if the city is properly served.
Thanking the council members for their kind words, Mr O’Neill said that it has “always been an honour” to act as city manager and he hopes he can continue to work and do the best for the city.