independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Councillors to grill city manager on controversial appointment

Conn Murray, Limerick City Council manager

Councillors are to grill the city manager today about the appointment of his best man to a €98,000-a-year job, without it being externally advertised.

Councillors are to use a scheduled budget meeting this afternoon to question city manager Conn Murray about the appointment of Dr Pat Daly as senior executive manager with Limerick City Council.

Dr Daly transferred from the Shannon Development Authority which was wound up and was subject to an internal interview. Mr Murray appointed Dr Daly on the recommendation of that interview panel.

This is just the latest in a series of damaging revelations to dog Limerick council and its related City of Culture 2014 body, which have been at the centre of an ongoing "cronyism" row since the appointment of its chief executive Patricia Ryan.

Ms Ryan is a former aide of Pat Cox, the one time EU President, who himself is the chairman of the City of Culture board.

DISQUIET

Speaking to the Irish Independent, former mayor Cllr Jim Long, of Fine Gael, said there was a lot of disquiet that such appointments have taken place "without full transparency".

"It is not about the ability of those involved, but I certainly have questions about the manner in which they were appointed," he added.

Mr Long also questioned the back-up given to these controversial appointments at Government level, an implicit criticism of his own party colleague, Finance Minister Michael Noonan who has publicly backed Ms Ryan.

Labour councillor Tom Shortt said he was "deeply worried" about the "culture of cronyism" that was emerging in Limerick, which he said was doing huge damage to the city's reputation.

"These revelations are causing widespread disquiet and concern among the general public. We are getting low standards in high office, and it is deeply disturbing," Mr Shortt said. "This all smacks of cronyism and is all too cosy. The manager has serious questions to answer."

It has also emerged the controversy engulfing Limerick county is hampering efforts to secure much-needed private investment, which has threatened the viability of some events.

While Mr Noonan announced €6m in government funding on Budget Day, organisers have designed a programme based on €10m of funding, with the funding gap to be made up from private sources.

Mr Murray has admitted that the controversy over Ms Ryan's appointment was having an effect. "The kind of focus that we have had for the last number of days is not helping," he added.

Irish Independent

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