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Low staffing levels in Galway County Council hitting rural areas hardest

The issue of staff shortages within Galway County Council has been flagged again – with local public representatives saying that rural roads and services are being worst hit.

It comes as a senior official again admitted that, while interviews are taking place, some of those who are being offered positions are turning them down for more favourable employment opportunities.

Director of Services Derek Pender also said that when it came to some of the more senior positions that become available, the successful applicants often use it as a bargaining tool with the local authorities where they are currently employed.

The staffing crisis was raised at a meeting of Galway County Council when it was stated that essential services could not be provided while the shortage of staff remained.

The matter was highlighted by Cllr Pete Roche (FG) who said that services such as the maintenance of cemeteries, the clean-up of litter-affected areas and even the monitoring of CCTV cameras could not be carried out.

The Abbeyknockmoy-based councillor said that rural communities in particular were feeling the brunt of the lack of ground staff.

Referring to the appointment of the new Chief Executive of Galway County Council Liam Kenneally, Cllr Roche said that this would be one of his biggest challenges in the years ahead.

According to Cllr Andrew Reddington (FG), there were just four ground staff serving an area stretching from Tuam to Headford and this was not good enough.

“The staff shortages mean that essential maintenance works cannot be carried out and there are footpaths across the Tuam Municipal Council area that are dangerous for pedestrians,” he said.

Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) said that by not having the required amount of staff meant it was having “a knock-on effect” when it came to the provision of basic services.

The Headford councillor has now asked senior officials for an update as to when additional staff would be taken on by Galway County Council.

In response, Mr Pender said that the Council was anxious to appoint more staff but that this was subject to approval from the Department of Local Government in Dublin.

He added that there were a number of senior positions to be filled as well but he explained that when Galway County Council offer a position, this is often used by the successful candidate to negotiate better terms with their current local authority where they are employed.

However, Cllr Roche responded by saying that the concentration should be on employing ground staff and he did not believe that there would be a problem in this regard if the Council were allowed to engage in a recruitment process.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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