Joe Costello says Limerick City of Culture row 'an unholy mess'

Saturday 04 January 2014 20.26
Joe Costello said agreement needed locally on way forward after row
Joe Costello said agreement needed locally on way forward after row

Minister of State Joe Costello has described events surrounding the Limerick City of Culture project as "an unholy mess".

He said that the Limerick City of Culture Board should seek and get agreement locally in the city on a way forward, before appointing a new artistic director.

His comments come in the wake of the resignation of the City of Culture's Artistic Director, Karl Wallace, earlier this week.

Mr Costello also said that there should have been a public competition to appoint the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Culture project.

Patricia Ryan was appointed CEO without a public competition.

At a public meeting in Limerick last night, the Chairman of the City of Culture board, Pat Cox, said they would move to appoint a new artistic director in a week, and also invite members of the artistic community to join as Board members.

Several hundred people, including members of the city's artistic community, attended the meeting.

Many expressed their lack of confidence in Mr Cox, CEO Ms Ryan and the City of Culture board and called for their resignation. 

Mr Cox and Ms Ryan insisted they will not be leaving their posts.

A board member of Limerick City of Culture admitted "serious lessons" needed to be learned following the controversy.

Speaking on RTÉ's Radio One this afternoon Tim O’Connor said he “absolutely” had confidence in Ms Ryan who was appointed without a public competition.

“A process was gone through, not a full one that would been ideal, but a number of people were interviewed and canvassed and Patricia Ryan emerged,” he said. 

“We were faced with a situation where time was slipping away. We still didn’t have our funding in place and we needed to get down to the organisational pieces that had to be done.”

He added: “She is a top class professional and a terrific person.”

Independent TD and member of the Public Accounts Committee Shane Ross has described events as "deeply disappointing" and "a shambles".

He said, considering the links between Pat Cox and the appointe, he could not understand why the position of Chief Executive Officer was not put to tender.

He added he didn't think the explanation from the board was adequate.

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