LIMERICK'S city manager, already at the centre of a major cronyism row, appointed the best man at his wedding to a €98,000-a-year job without it being advertised publicly, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Conn Murray, previously criticised for appointing former EU President Pat Cox's assistant to a plum post, is now facing questions over the appointment of his best man, Dr Pat Daly, to the senior managerial role in the council.
Mr Murray appointed Patricia Ryan as the CEO of the Limerick City of Culture 2014 body, of which Mr Cox is chairman, without the post being advertised.
On foot of the controversy, Ms Ryan has been called on to step down by local Labour city councillor Tom Shortt.
It has now emerged Mr Murray appointed Dr Pat Daly, his best man at his wedding in November 2000, to the senior post last summer in Limerick City Council.
Dr Daly's post was one of two senior appointments made by Mr Murray last summer, neither of which was advertised externally.
Dr Daly was appointed to the senior post after the Shannon Development authority, where he worked, was wound down.
The Irish Independent has obtained a copy of Mr Murray's wedding certificate on which Dr Daly's signature as a witness is present.
In a statement to the Irish Independent, a spokesman for Limerick City Council has insisted Mr Murray's friendship with Dr Daly played no part in his appointment.
"Dr Pat Daly did act as best man for Mr Murray on the occasion of his wedding 13 years ago," a spokesman said.
His appointment by Mr Murray in Limerick City and County Council followed an internal process, the spokesman added. Mr Murray then made the appointment on the recommendation of an independent interview board.
"His association with Dr Daly could not in any way justify doing otherwise," the spokesman added.
The spokesman insisted the appointment process followed the established redeployment procedures provided for in the Public Service Agreement.
But, this new revelation is the latest to cloud the City of Culture project and Limerick City Council, an affair that Finance Minister Michael Noonan has waded into.
Mr Noonan, who represents Limerick city, has defended Ms Ryan's appointment.
"At times, things have to be done and I fully support the decision (to appoint Ms Ryan)," he said.
The appointments controversy has been the subject of intense political rows at Limerick City Council in recent weeks.
Senior City of Culture figures have also expressed their alarm at the manner of Ms Ryan's posting.
Mr Cox, who is chairman of the board of the City of Culture has rebuffed any suggestion of impropriety and has defended Mr Murray.
"It is not some kind of a dirty deal, under the counter. The city manager did as well as he could in the circumstances," he said.
Mr Cox insisted the board consented to the appointment on foot of a recommendation that came from Mr Murray.
"Conn Murray is doing an exceptional job. The guy is working miracles," he added.