Change of personnel does not solve leadership issue

Changing personnel is what it’s all about these days as new cathaoirlaigh, mayors, managers, etc, are appointed to various public, sporting, and management bodies in our midst. Changing name plaques on doors or editing job titles to suit new responsibilities will not really cut it though in solving the many issues now facing us if the people appointed to positions of high authority are not also leaders themselves. Leadership, after all, is the essence of our existence. Most of us choose to live by copying others, but those rare heroes and heroines whose modus operandi is to blaze a trail that we all want to follow — these are the people we are truly seeking out — especially now that a proper sense of direction so eludes us.

In recent weeks we have seen outgoing chairman of Mayo County Council Des Mahon leave his position after 19 years to make way for new incumbent Peter Hynes, who is now settling quietly into his role and familiarising himself with a fresh set of controls; in Castlebar Cllr Ger Deere has just been installed as the new mayor and having so long yearned to represent the community in a leadership role, he is wished well. Over in Westport Cllr Tereasa McGuire is happily in situ as the new chairperson of the town council, and as a teacher by profession is expected to particularly shine in matters educational .

A new departure for senior executive engineer Joe Beirne was also announced this week in his appointment as director of services for Belmullet and Westport, which includes the role of Westport manager. Hitherto Mr Beirne’s expertise on roads and balancing capital projects was the order of the day but other concerns such as attracting industry and developing stronger community relationships and tourism links will now fall within his remit, as well as the key questions of how exactly to develop Achill and Belmullet in the best possible way for posterity.

In Ballina, Frances McAndrew was appointed as mayor for yet another term, suggesting that the leadership she offered previously is something locals appreciate. Ballinrobe meanwhile is also celebrating this week with the election of Cllr Michael Burke as cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council — a great honour all round. Even the Mayo football team is to undergo yet another leadership change following the resignation of John O’Mahony TD over the weekend, making way once more for a new hero on whom hopes of snaring the Sam Maguire can be pinned.

On the larger stage we have also had some serious leadership issues in recent times — which on the face of it have been settled — although the political ground in general still remains extremely shaky as sitting politicians continue to desperately flail around for one true leader.

Because the crux of it is that everyone is looking for THE one, the Messiah, to lead this country forward. Irish people are used to being led by a figurehead, they like being so led, and even after all these years the real longing is for a Lemass/Michael Collins — even a Charlie Haughey-like frontman — who forces his will on people and fills them with high emotion. In reality what we want is our very own Obama — and indeed a host of individual little Obamas, each running a different administrative sector so that when it comes to things such as health, education, economics, sports, etc, and matters become troublesome, there is someone to point the finger at. No wonder we’re still waiting for the true leaders to step forward.


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