*Leonard Cleary, Noeleen Fitzgerald, Pat Dowling, Anne Haugh, Carmel Kirby and Jason Murphy. 

SUBSTANTIAL changes to the management of Clare County Council are to be made as part of a vast reshuffle.

Chief Executive of Clare County Council, Pat Dowling has rung the changes among the county’s top public servants with a new-look management structure of the local authority to come into effect from January 1st.

Of the six senior posts alongside Dowling at the top table, half of them will remain in their current roles.

Carmel Kirby continues as Director of Service for Economic Development and the Ennis Municipal District. She moved from the Physical Development directorate to Economic Development last April following Liam Conneally’s appointment as Chief Executive of Galway County Council. The Kinsale native was conferred with a PhD in recent years and is married to former Limerick hurler, Gary Kirby.

Carmel Kirby. Photograph: Eamon Ward.

Kirby joined Clare County Council in 2017 having previously held roles as Director of Social Development, Chief Fire Officer and Programme Manager for Regeneration with Limerick City and County Council. She currently sits on the Board of the Ennis 2040 DAC.

Miltown Malbay native, Seán Lenihan joins the Ennis MD as senior executive officer, his addition may be seen as offering a steady hand to settle matters for the Ennis 2040 strategy. An employee of the Council since 1999, he had been the senior engineer in the project management office and was leading capital projects across the county such as the Killaloe Bridge and Bypass Crossing, the West Clare Greenway, the Ennistymon Inner Relief Road and the flood relief scheme in Shannon. Last week, he entered his fourth term as Chairman of Clare LGFA.

Seán Lenihan. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Planning, Clare Local Enterprise Office, strategies, property and town/estuary programmes are included in the responsibilities of the Economic Development directorate. Other senior staff in the department include Carmel Greene, senior planner Helen Quinn, Padraic McElwee and Joan Tarmey. Chief Operating Officer of Ennis 2040, Kevin Corrigan is included as DAC staff in this department.

Maintaining his role as Director of Tourism Development along with overseeing the West Clare Municipal District is Leonard Cleary. In May, he was appointed to head up the Council’s tourism department following the addition of the four Shannon Heritage sites to its portfolio. Corofin’s Cleary had prior to this served as Director of Rural Development with the Council since a restructuring in October 2016 was one of the key figures behind the country’s first rural development strategy.

Leonard Cleary. Photograph: John O’Neill

Cleary joined the local authority in August 1997, beginning as a marketing and development officer with Kilrush Town Council. He then served as the RAPID Programme Coordinator in the guise of a community and enterprise development officer before continuing to climb the ranks in the Council. Other roles included Head of Human Resources and Town Clerk with the Ennis Town Council before heading up the housing department and then the rural development directorate. In August 2021, Leonard who is married to Michelle with four children, was ordained a deacon of the Diocese of Cloyne. A former clerical student, he spent fifteen years as Chair of the Killaloe Diocesan Pastoral Council with Bishops Fintan Monahan, Willie Walsh and Kieran O Reilly.

Tourism, Shannon Heritage, DigiClare and Capital are all included in the Tourism Directorate. Miltown Malbay based John O’Malley continues as senior executive officer of the West Clare MD, Deirdre O’Shea as Head of Tourism with Urban McMahon retaining responsibility for DigiClare. Stephen Hanley (General Manager of Clare Tourism East), Donnacha Lynch (Head of Commercial Services for Clare Tourism DAC) and Geraldine Enright (Director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience) are all included in this directorate.

Noeleen Fitzgerald stays as Director of Service for Finance and Support Services, she is the only Director not responsible for a Municipal District, she has been in this post since April 2020. Her department will include senior personnel, Trina Rynne, Caroline O’Connor, Monica Meehan and Alfie Jones. Finance, ICT and Human Resources are among the areas included in the Department headed up by Noeleen who has worked with the County Council since 2002.

Noeleen Fitzgerald. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Ennis based Fitzgerald has previously worked in financial advisory and management roles with companies including Dell, CIE Tours International and Deacy Concannon & Company. She is currently a Board member of Ennis 2040 DAC and is a former officer with Club Clare. She was also the Council’s co-ordinator for the hugely successful Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann events held in the county town in 2016 and 2017.

One of the biggest alterations is Anne Haugh’s exit from the Social Development Directorate. Her career in local government started with Clare County Council in 1990 before joining Limerick County Council. For nearly three years, she was a Director of Service with Kerry County Council until 2010, she then spent two years as Director of Operations with Limerick Regeneration Agencies, all the while living in Co Clare, before returning to Clare County Council in 2012.

Upon her return Anne was appointed Director of Physical Development, a role she held until August 2018 to head up the Social Development Directorate. Her upcoming move to Rural Development ends a near six year-term over the department which holds responsibility for housing.

Siobhan O’Reilly, Rural Development Directorate, Clare County Council; Anne Haugh, Director of Social Development, Clare County Council; and Siobhan McNulty, Senior Executive Officer, Clare County Council. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Currently sitting on the board of glór, Anne is also the Director responsible for the Killaloe MD and she will retain this role in East Clare. Brian McCarthy will be officially appointed the senior executive officer, having been area co-ordinator up to now. Rural and local development, culture, arts, corporate services and communications are among the items falling under the remit of Haugh’s new department. Senior officials include Bernie Haugh, county librarian Helen Walsh and Ann Reynolds of corporate services.

Having previously been senior executive officer involved with the €293m Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan, Jason Murphy returns to the field of housing in local government. He became an Acting Director of Service in Clare County Council in July 2022 leading the Council’s response to the war in Ukraine, Cleary’s appointment as Director of Tourism then saw Jason take over the Rural Development mantle.

Clonlara based Jason now succeeds Haugh as Director of Social Development. Housing, the Ukrainian response, international protection applicants, sport and recreation all fall under the responsibility this department. A former head of HR and senior executive officer with the Shannon MD, Jason will be leading up the West Clare MD with responsibility for North Clare.

Both Padraig MacCormaic and Adrian Headd retain senior housing roles in this department, a new addition is that of Leonore O’Neill. She becomes senior executive officer in the West Clare MD with responsibility for North Clare, having held the same role in the Ennis MD. The Galway woman will be based in Ennistymon. The SEO role had been left vacant in North Clare for the past nine months.

Joining the senior management of the Council is Alan Farrell. He is leaving Galway County Council where he serves as Director of Services with responsibility for Economic, Rural & Community Development to become Director of Physical Development in Clare and he will also lead the Shannon MD. He was responsible for the for the establishment of the Rural Regeneration Team in Galway County Council and championed the development of the BIA Innovator Campus CLG. The Galway native has particular interests in the Food, Tourism, Hospitality and Cultural industries. Farrell had been Director of the Athenry MD.

Transport, environment, transition of water functions to Uisce Éireann, fire and emergency services all fall under Farrell’s brief in the Physical Development directorate.

Anne Griffin will continue as senior executive officer in the Shannon MD. Morgan Lahiffe remains as climate change officer, Cyril Feeney moves to roads and the environment having previously led water services, Adrian Kelly continues as Chief Fire Officer.

Siobhán McNulty who had been an Acting Director of Service for the past nine months leading the Shannon MD and Physical Development directorate now moves to the project management office. The Ennistymon woman will head up this section alongside John Leahy.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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