Switching and changing Council positions is 'mind-boggling'

December 2nd, 2023 11:00 AM

By Jackie Keogh

From left, acting county engineer Liam Ahearn; Council acting ceo Valerie O'Sullivan, and Kevin Morey is the new divisional manager of the northern division.

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A WEST Cork public representative has described as ‘mind-boggling’ the rate of personnel change within Cork County Council’s administration.

Cllrs Danny Collins (Ind) asked for standing orders to be suspended at a recent meeting of the West Cork Municipal District (WCMD) so he could address his concerns, and the concerns of his constituents.

‘This switching and changing makes us look very unprofessional,’ said Cllr Collins, who said meetings he had arranged with the interim manager in Beara, Bantry, Glengarriff, and Goleen will now have to be changed.

With elections in June, he said their job is ‘hard enough without having to go through this as well’. He said it felt as if the goalposts had been changed.

Cllr Collins said he had no issue with any of the appointments, just the rate of change.

Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind), who supported the call for the suspension of standing orders, said public representatives have received numerous calls and emails about the changes. ‘It was a bit of a surprise to me to see our divisional manager moved again,’ said Cllr Hurley.

The councillor was one of a number of public representatives who welcomed Michael Lynch as the West Cork’s interim manager at a divisional committee (DC) meeting​ on Monday October 16th, only to find out on Friday, October 27th that Michael Lynch had been reassigned to Cork South.

At the ​DC meeting, the councillors also welcomed Noreen O’Mahony, who has taken over from MacDara O hIcí as the senior executive officer in West Cork.

Liam Ahearn was also welcomed in his new role as acting county engineer, having taken over from Kevin Morey​. Kevin Morey has not, as was previously stated, retired. He has, in fact, been assigned manager of the northern division.

At the WCMD meeting, Cllr Hurley welcomed the appointment of Loraine Lynch as West Cork’s divisional manager​. But he said the rate of change – including the appointment of a new acting chief executive of Cork County Council, a new senior executive officer, and a new acting county engineer – can be confusing for the general public.

‘There has been a big turnaround in staff in Cork County Council,’ said Cllr Hurley. ‘Continuity is very important. People are ringing me to find out who to ring. In our roles as public representatives, we build up relationships with officials within the WCMD area. I have no concerns about the personnel but it takes time for a person to bed-in to their new role.

‘We are facing an election in eight months, so it has put us at a disadvantage,’ said Cllr Hurley, who ​voiced his concern ​that ‘we are not done with changes yet​.’

Cllr Danny Collins pointed out that the Council is led by an acting chief executive​, Valerie O’Sullivan. ​If a different chief executive is appointed​, he surmised, the personnel line-up could change once again.

Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) said it was the acting ceo's prerogative to make changes but the way it was handled – via email – was ‘a bit messy’.

On Friday October 27th ceo O’Sullivan sent an email outlining the reassignments at divisional manager level.

The former county engineer, Kevin Morey is the new manager of the northern division.​ Michael Lynch is the new divisional manager of the southern division.​ And Loraine Lynch has been assigned to the western division​.

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