Derry City Council is still without a new chief executive - almost six months after Valerie Watts announced she was stepping down to take up a new role in Scotland.
The ‘Journal’ can reveal that a recent high-profile recruitment process - reportedly costing tens of thousands of pounds - concluded with no appointment made.
It’s believed a further recruitment process to appoint a new Town Clerk and Chief Executive is in the offing.
A Council spokesperson confirmed: “This remains an immediate priority following the Local Government Elections.
“John Meehan remains the acting Town Clerk and Chief Executive until a new appointment has been made.”
The Council spokesperson said that recruitment costs were not available at this stage and that it would be “inappropriate” to provide confidential details on candidates considered during the initial recruitment exercise.
Sources claim that 14 people applied for the job and that no more than four of them proceeded to the final assessment stage of the process.
Local businesswoman Mary Casey last night branded the failure to appoint a new Council chief as “deeply embarrassing.”
“What sort of message does this send out?” she asked.
“All I know is that for the past six months, since Valerie Watts announced her intention to resign, Council has had the opportunity to sort this situation out. And, yet, here we are, in May, without a new chief executive. It’s embarrassing.”
Ms. Casey, of Foyleside Consulting, said that ratepayers should be demanding that Council “show real leadership” and appoint a new chief as a matter of urgency.