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Sunday 21 September 2014

Claims of phone hacking as culture chief resigns

* Gardai expected to investigate claims that the phone of Patricia Ryan may have been hacked * Patricia Ryan resigned from her role as chief of Limerick's City of Culture last night

Published 06/01/2014 | 06:46

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Patricia  Ryan, special adviser to Mary Harney,the Minister for Health and Children  .Pic Tom Burke 26/11/07
Patricia Ryan. Photo: Tom Burke
2-1-14
Karl Wallace, Artistic Director Limerick City of Culture and Pat Cox, Chair, Limerick City of Culture pictured at a business breakfast in Limerick yesterday announcing further details of LimerickÕs preparations as it celebrates becoming National City of Culture next year. The designation was awarded to the city by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD and Limerick will celebrate the occasion with a high quality programme of events and initiatives throughout 2014.  Pic Sean Curtin Photo
Karl Wallace, then Artistic Director Limerick City of Culture and Pat Cox, Chair, Limerick City of Culture pictured at a business breakfast in Limerick last year. Photo: Sean Curtin
Pat Cox
Pat Cox

Gardai are expected to investigate claims that the phone of former Limerick City Culture chief Patricia Ryan was hacked.

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The Irish Independent says that Ms Ryan was due to make a complaint to gardai early this morning.

It is understood that Ms Ryan fears her mobile phone messages were intercepted.

The hacking claims centre around the timing of Ms Ryan's announcement yesterday that she had intended to resign.

The full details regarding the phone hacking allegations appear in today's Irish Independent.

Ms Ryan formally announced her resignation last night.

Calls for Ms Ryan to resign have been made after it emerged she had been hired for the position without consultation in November.

However, she was at the helm of the €6m event when it was launched on New Year's Eve.

In a statement issued last night, Ms Ryan said "she had informed the board of Limerick National City of Culture 2014 and the manager of Limerick local authorities of my decision to resign as chief executive officer.

"The added speculation and commentary surrounding the events of recent days has regrettably compromised my authority and capacity to lead this project.

"It is important that a suitable successor is appointed to lead out on the next important phase and ensure the delivery of the programme and the project which is so vital to the rebranding of Limerick."

Prior to her appointment, Ms Ryan was an advisor to former MEP and TD Pat Cox, who is chairman of the City of Culture board, which is a voluntary role. She was also an advisor to former Minister for Health Mary Harney.

Criticism of her appointment was focused on Ms Ryan's former advisory role to Mr Cox.

Calls for both of them to resign were made at a public meeting of 600 people last Friday.

It came after City of Culture artistic director Karl Wallace resigned on December 30 amid the controversy.

Cllr Jim Long (FG), former mayor of Limerick, has called for Limerick City Council to hold an emergency meeting as soon as possible to debate on how best to move the project forward.

Pat Cox said the the organisation "need to draw a line under this. We need to move on in a calm way".

Speaking after Ms Ryan resigned, Mr Cox said there is "no question of more resignations helping this situation.

"I am determined to do everything I can and we can to hit the reset button to put together in place the necessary resources, to complete the negotiations with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on finally securing funds for the City of Culture," he said.

Despite the controversy surrounding the project, the board of Limerick City of Culture have said they are determined to press ahead with the project.

Speaking on Morning Ireland earlier today, board member Tim O’Connor said they met on Friday and will be meeting again today to address a number of issues.

Mr O’Connor said there is “tremendous passion and tremendous enthusiasm” for the project.

He said they hope to appoint a new CEO and artistic director “within a matter of weeks”.

“This has been a very challenging time for us, we are learning lessons that have to be learned and we’re going to press ahead,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said they have been in contact with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht over the weekend.

“The minister (Jimmy Deenihan) is being very supportive. We are obviously working very hard and we are in constant contact with the minister and department on this.”

Mr O’Connor said there was no point in postponing the event for a year.

“A lot of the programme is already in place and a lot of good work has been done.

“We have a very exciting programme – 109 projects in Limerick alone have been approved.

“We are determined to make it a great year for Limerick,” he added.

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