Council chiefs appointed to review group on merger

City Hall on College Road (left) and County Hall on Prospect Hill.

The two most senior local government officials in the county have been named as part of the group assigned to oversee a second review into the possible amalgamation of Galway City and County Councils – a merger that would almost certainly result in one or other losing their job.

That led to one County Councillor to claim that the City and County Council chief executives are there to protect their own jobs.

Independent Councillor James Charity is a strong advocate of both authorities merging as he believes that it would be save money, in that way providing more funds for both the city and county in terms of roads maintenance and general services.

“By amalgamating the two authorities we will have less councillors and less highly paid officials and I believe that there would be more money in the pot to spread around towards essential services”, he said.

But Cllr Charity said that by having the two top officials on the new review committee meant that the status quo would be maintained and that Galway County Council would be continually strapped for cash.

It has been confirmed that Galway County Council Chief Executive Kevin Kelly and Brendan McGrath, his Galway City Council counterpart, will be on the new review group to examine the potential merger of both councils.

The previous review group recommended that both councils amalgamate as a logistical step forward but this report was rejected by the majority of members of Galway County Council – many of whom felt that their rural area had nothing in common with many parts of the city.

A new review group is now being established and Mr Kelly informed members of Galway County Council through an email that he has been asked to be part of this body.

Recently there was overwhelming opposition to any amalgamation of the Galway County and City Council when councillors met to discuss the issue .

They were discussing a recommendation of a previous review group which suggested that an amalgamation of the two Councils was the preferred option. This is being resisted by members of both Councils.

Now another review group is being established and will include the two top officials in the city and county.

“Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas so it is hardly likely that the two managers will agree to an amalgamation which would mean that one of them would be demoted,” said Cllr Charity.

He has made the argument that the savings would be immense. He said that instead of having two managers – one for the city and one for the county – that this would be reduced to one while the number of officials could also be dramatically reduced.

“Having two local authorities in the one county simply does not make any sense. But having another review has all of the hallmarks of retaining the current position which I believe is a retrograde step,” Cllr Charity added.