Saturday 20 December 2014

Five NCH directors resign in 'critical' letters row

Sam Griffin and Fionnan Sheahan

Published 24/04/2014 | 02:30

Bruce Arnold
Jimmy Deenihan

FIVE board directors of the National Concert Hall have resigned after letters criticising some of their performances were circulated by another director to the entire board and to Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

The board members all stepped down at this month's AGM following circulation of letters by John McGrane, who was appointed onto the board by the Minister in July 2011.

The five members who resigned are Pat Heneghan, Bruce Arnold, Artemis Kent and Patricia Slavin – who were all appointed by the Minster in July 2011 – as well as the board's chairwoman Margaret Ryan, who replaced Kieran Tobin one year ago.

Ms Ryan had previously announced she would step down following the meeting.

The letters are critical of board members' performances, but Mr McGrane is not believed to have named specific board members, and rather referred to positions within the board.

A source last night said that "relations between various parties and the board had become fractured".

In addition to the letters, some of the board members were also very critical of Mr Deenihan's handling of the situation. It is understood the minister had received the communications from Mr McGrane prior to the meeting but made no mention of them in his address to the board at the AGM.

The minster had been due to speak at the meeting and was not prompted by the decision of the board members to step down.

Last night, Bruce Arnold said the minister had ignored "all the warning signals" in relation to the conflict among the board members.

"I'm very dissatisfied with the minster's handling of the situation and expressed that dissatisfaction with Minister Deenihan," he told the Irish Independent.

"I would be very critical of the minster in this case as he ignored all the warning signals that were there and plain for all to see."

Pat Heneghan said he had resigned with "great regret" but felt he had no choice.

"I had a lifelong association with the Concert Hall but because of the McGrane letters, I felt I had no option but to resign," he said.

Artemis Kent said she felt she could no longer contribute to the Concert Hall. She did not refer directly to the letters as the reason.

Irish Independent

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