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Change is afoot in Dublin City Council in the coming weeks.

Owen Keegan, who was appointed chief executive in September 2013, for a seven-year term, will remain in his position.

But which assistant chief executives are in charge of which departments is to undergo a bit of a rejig. The changes come into effect from 19 September.

This happens once or twice during each chief executive’s term, says Labour Councillor Dermot Lacey.

“It’s good on occasion to shake up senior staff,” he says. “I think it’s a positive development.”

Some Things Will Change

At the moment, Brendan Kenny is serving as acting chief executive. He’s been standing in for Keegan, who has been off sick in recent months.

The biggest change that will come with the September shake-up is that Kenny will move over to be deputy chief executive in charge of the Housing and Community Department.

That means Kenny will sit on the Housing Strategic Policy Committee (SPC), the Special Committee on Emergency Services, and the Local Community Development Committee.

A change of approach to housing is needed, said Sinn Fein Councillor Daithi Doolan, who is the chair of the Housing SPC.

“The process will be judged by the production of social and affordable housing for Dublin,” he says. “Any manager, including Brendan [Kenny] will be judged by how much housing they produce to meet the needs of the people of Dublin.”

As will councillors.

The outgoing housing chief, Dick Brady, will instead front the council’s Environment and Transportation Department. So he’ll sit on the Environment SPC and the Transportation SPC.

The proposed changes come as Keegan returns to work on 5 September. He’s the one who decides who plays what role, said a press office spokesperson.

“Each of the management team has a considerable and vast amount of experience in managing significant portfolios across a broad range of functions and services, which are transferrable to other areas of responsibility, as appropriate,” the spokesperson said.

Some Things Will Stay the Same

The outgoing head of the Environment and Transportation Department, Declan Wallace, is set to move to head up the Culture, Recreation and Economic Services Department — the post previously held by Brendan Kenny.

So, Wallace will now sit on the Arts, Culture and Recreation SPC  and be responsible for things like the arts office, libraries, parks and sports facilities.

Some things won’t change though. Jim Keogan will stay as head of Planning and Property Development, and so keep responsibility for the likes of the city development plan.

Councillor Lacey of Labour says he not going to be content, no matter who holds the assistant chief executive positions. “The big problem in my view is the serious lack of accountability that the chief executives have,” he says.

“If you take housing, the chair of the housing committee should be like the minister and the manager should be like the secretary general of the department,” he says. “Until we move to that sort of arrangement, we don’t really have acceptable local government.”

It’s not like that though the executives don’t just enact the decisions of the councillors.

According to a council press office spokesperson, the Local Government Management Agency do track the performance and progress of departments.

They have a special system for it, the Performance Management Development System (PMDS), and also the National Performance Indicators.

Ultimately, the management team is accountable for performance under these indicators, said the spokesperson.

Cónal Thomas

Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

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