An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, marked his first visit to the UCC campus today by delivering a major speech on public sector reform and the importance of public service.
He was speaking at the 15th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture following an invitation by the Department of Government at UCC.
The lecture series commemorates Philip Monahan who was Ireland’s first local authority manager and he served as city commissioner and then city manager in Cork from 1924 to 1959. The prestigious Monahan lecture series has attracted distinguished speakers over the years including John Hume, Mary McAleese, Emily O’Reilly and John Bercow.
Enda Kenny linked his talk, entitled ‘Towards a renewed public service’, with Monahan, who he stated had set the highest standards of probity and integrity in Irish public administration. The context to the lecture was the recently published Public Service Reform Plan 2014-2016 and the Taoiseach stressed the need for the public sector to focus on efficiency, openness, leadership and capacity, as well as the service users.
He noted that the Irish public service has already made a significant contribution to national recovery and that a strong public service is vital to Ireland’s future prospects. This message was especially relevant for the large cohort of Department of Government students in an audience of 250 people.
The Department of Government at UCC was an appropriate venue for the Taoiseach’s first major speech on public service renewal since the publication of the reform strategy as staff members continue to play a role in both political and administrative reform. In particular, Dr Aodh Quinlivan’s work in the area of local government is well-respected, as is the research of Fiona Buckley in the area of gender equality. Equally, Dr Clodagh Harris is making an important contribution through the Constitutional Convention.
Head of Department, Dr Andrew Cottey, commented: “The annual Monahan Lecture is a highlight of the UCC calendar and we are honoured that the Taoiseach delivered this year’s lecture on such a topical issue which is of great relevance to the research activities of our staff.”
The proceedings included the presentation of Department of Government student awards and the audience was also addressed by the President of UCC, Dr Michael Murphy, and by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Catherine Clancy. Amongst those in attendance were the Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney TD, the chairperson of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children, Jerry Buttimer TD, and the Cork North Central TD, Dara Murphy.