Not surprisingly, the county’s dirty linen is on full show for the delectation of the nation this morning, with all three nationals covering the ongoing managerial appointment fiasco. (We need a gate-related name for it, by the way – the obvious one being Paddygate, I guess.) Here’s what they have to say – Irish Examiner, Irish Independent, Irish Times.
The best piece is the one in the Examiner, with Edwin McGreal of the Mayo News joining forces with Terry Reilly to provide an in-depth account of how the imbroglio developed over the last few days. This piece includes what Liam McHale had to say on NewsTalk’s Off The Ball show last night, a feature in which Ed played a starring role, laying out coherently and comprehensively all of the details of this whole sorry and deeply embarrassing mess. For anyone who hasn’t yet listened to this, it’s available here. It’s well worth your while doing so.
The focus now shifts to the County Board meeting tomorrow night where Chairman Paddy McNicholas will obviously be in the firing line. That Examiner piece says that there’s talk of a no confidence motion being tabled and if it is I doubt such a motion will have trouble being seconded. Paddy simply has to walk the plank for this one.
Two issues then arise. Firstly, should anyone else go? If the whole thing was a solo run, then arguably not – at least not tomorrow night, though the argument for fundamental change at Officer level in November has obviously been strengthened. If anyone else was involved, in particular in propagating those idiotic untruths during the course of the attempted cover-up on Saturday, then they could be in the cross-hairs too tomorrow night.
The second issue relates to the appointment itself and here I think the way forward is far less clear and the possibility of our ending up in an even bigger disaster zone very real. On this one, it’s crucial that calm heads prevail or otherwise we could end up having trouble filling the vacancy at all.
Personally, I have no problem with the new management team and I always felt that either of the two nominations would have been fine. We now know that they were proposing very different approaches on how to take the team forward with Noel Connelly and Pat Holmes stressing continuity while Kevin McStay’s approach would have been a more “radical” one. It’s now clear that the decision makers in the process made their minds up very quickly and wanted continuity.
But here’s the thing – those in whose gift it was to handle the process were fully entitled to favour continuity over change and it’s not exactly crime of the century either that they made their minds up so quickly. This isn’t the Public Appointments Commission we’re talking about here and it’s an obvious fact that inter-county managers have been appointed by a variety of weird and wonderful ways over the years.
In addition, anyone involved in hiring – which I did a bit of myself some years back – will know that decisions can be made very early in any appointment process but the key thing that has to happen is that the process that the candidates go through is fair and transparent and the hiring decision is made properly. Paddygate, when boiled down to its essence, is all about a process failure and a shameful amateurish attempt to cover this up when it was exposed as such.
I can’t, then, join in the calls for this particular truck to be backed up to the starting point. Getting Noel and Pat to “step aside” until such time as all the outrage that’s currently swirling around has subsided will serve no purpose other than to ensure that they, along with Kevin McStay and Liam McHale, are out of the picture. There’s no way either set of candidates would put their names forward a second time and if we’re forced to start the whole appointment thing all over again there’s no guarantee we’ll end up with a management team that is as good as the one that this deeply flawed process has produced.
It needs to be borne in mind that Noel and Pat have done nothing wrong here. They didn’t dictate the appointment process and it wasn’t their fault that neither they nor Kevin McStay were interviewed formally. While it’s obviously the case, as Ed McGreal pointed out on Off The Ball last night, that their appointment is “tainted” does that mean it is fatally undermined? Hand on heart, I can’t see this is the case.
There’s an enormous amount of anger in the air right now – a cursory glance at the comments section (where a few more contributions from less hot-headed posters wouldn’t go amiss, by the way) quickly confirms this. Where it comes to Paddygate and the wider failings of the County Board, that anger is largely justified but that’s where the focus needs to be kept. Those with influence in clubs within the county need to make their voices heard there as it’s there that calls for change can have real effect. Shouting from the rooftops here isn’t going to change anything. If people really do want change then they need to get stuck in where it counts and make it happen. Starting tomorrow night.