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Owen Keegan is stepping down after ten years as Chief Executive of Dublin City Council

All parties in Dublin City Council paid tribute to outgoing Chief Executive Owen Keegan, who has left the City Council after ten years at the helm.

Mr Keegan, who handed over his duties to Deputy Chief Executive Richard Shakespeare last month, briefly attended Monday night’s council meeting, for the first time without a tie, Fine Gael Councilor James Geoghegan noted.

“All dictatorships must come to an end eventually,” Mr Geoghegan quipped, “even the benevolent ones.” He said Mr Keegan always had the common good at heart, “although the public has not always been of one mind on this point,” and wished him a healthy and happy retirement.

Labor Party’s Dermot Lacey thanked Mr Keegan for “a lot of hard work and dedication to the city of Dublin” and said: “I think sometimes you’ve been blamed for things that weren’t your fault, but I think sometimes you have it enjoyed “this argumentative situation”. Mr Keegan was “honest about the positions” he held and he “made the case for Dublin,” Mr Lacey said.

Fianna Fáil Councilwoman Deirdre Heney described him as a “dedicated officer” and particularly thanked him for clearing Griffith Avenue of heavy commercial vehicles.

Speaking on behalf of the independent group of councillors, Cieran Perry said, “I don’t think we’ve agreed on a single issue since we worked together, but I appreciate your engagement.”

People Before Profit’s Hazel de Nortúin said Mr Keegan has “always been transparent” when dealing with councillors. “I’m not saying we’ve always been on the same side of the debate, but I’m not going to leave the housing crisis and the problems we’ve had in the city to you alone.”

Mícheál Mac Donncha thanked him for his commitment to the Irish language. The Greens and Social Democrats also praised his commitment to public service.

The only dissenter, Independent Councilman John Lyons, said Mr Keegan had “maintained a very dysfunctional system” and that “should not be commended; it should be condemned”.

Speaking to councilors for the last time, Mr Keegan said he wanted “to give a special thank you to you, John, for ensuring balance tonight”, which caused a laugh from most in attendance.

“I think it is appropriate that I sign off in this Chamber where I have suffered so many defeats over the years,” he said.

It was “an absolute privilege to serve as a board member for the city council for ten years,” he said. “I have only very fond memories of serving on the City Council.” Mr. Keegan thanked the Council staff and management as well as the Council members. “I wish you all the best and thank you.”

Mr. Shakespeare will remain acting Chairman of the Board until the position is advertised by the Public Appointments Service.

Mr Keegan has been the public face of the Council in numerous controversies over the past decade.

In early 2019 he was asked to reconsider his position when he said the quality of Dublin’s homeless shelters make them an “attractive option” for some people who may not want to leave.

In August 2021, he was again suggested to quit for criticizing those who provided tents for the homeless as it encouraged restless sleep and the “proliferation” of tents reinforced the impression that the city was unsafe.

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