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Saturday 30 August 2014

Limerick City of Culture CEO Patricia Ryan resigns

KATHRYN HAYES

Published 05/01/2014 | 16:48

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Patricia Ryan, CEO of Limerick City Of Culture pictured at the public meeting in the Clarion Hotel, Limerick of almost 600 people this evening following the shock resignation of its artistic director Karl Wallace. Pic. Brian Arthur/ Press 22.
Patricia Ryan, CEO of Limerick City Of Culture pictured at the public meeting in the Clarion Hotel, Limerick of almost 600 people this evening following the shock resignation of its artistic director Karl Wallace. Pic. Brian Arthur/ Press 22.

Limerick City of Culture chair Pat Cox said he is 'determined to hit the reset button' as the CEO Patricia Ryan resigned today.

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Ms Ryan confirmed her much speculated resignation earlier today.

"There's no question of more resignations helping this situation," Cox told RTE News at Nine. "As Chariman of the board - an excellent board I've been in touch with throughout the day - I'm determined to do everything I, and we, can to hit the reset button."

He added that the Limerick City of Culture is determined to leave a 'legacy of work'

"There are no prospects of going back, the question now is going forward. We need to work on how best to process this and to learn lessons for the future.

"I want to reassure the artistic community and the wider community that we are determined to put this back on track and will deliver everything on the programme."

Meanwhile, earlier today, Ms Ryan confirmed that she has informed the Board of Limerick National City of Culture 2014 and the Manager of Limerick Local Authorities of her decision to resign. 

"The speculation and commentary surrounding the events of recent days has regrettably compromised my authority and capacity to continue leading 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 re-branding of Limerick," she said.

"I would like to pay particular tribute to the exceptionally hard working team of people in City of Culture that I have worked alongside on this project.  Their dedication, diligence and commitment will ensure the continued success of this project.

"I wish the Limerick National City of Culture 2014 project every success and as a proud Limerick woman will continue to offer it my support," she concluded.

Controversy surrounding Ms Ryan's appointment to the €120,000 position failed to abate since it emerged the 18 month contract was not advertised.

The issue came to a head following the resignation of Artistic Director Karl Wallace and two programmers last week.

International programmer Jo Mangan and commissioning and legacy programmer Maeve McGrath, were both contracted to provide service for City of Culture.

Mr Wallace said his position on the board was "untenable".

Heated calls for Mr Ryan's resignation were made at a mass meeting of the artistic community attended by the CEO and Pat Cox The chairman of the Board of  Limerick City of Culture last Friday night.

Following the meeting Ms Ryan admitted the criticism was "tough to listen to" but insisted she would not be stepping down.

"People that shut the loudest aren't always the majority, can I just say that," she added. 

When asked if she would be happy to see Karl Wallace who who resigned as artistic director return to his position she said "that was a matter for Karl, Karl resigned".

Mr Cox also insisted that he won't be resigning from his voluntary position as chairman of the Board.

"I know there are those who would like to see me fold in the face of criticism but I am determined to see this through," Mr Cox said.

A former adviser to Pat Cox, Ms Ryan is a native of Limerick and has also worked as an advisor to Mary Harney when she was Minister for Health.

There have also been calls for his resignation over claims of cronyism however Pat Cox insists he had nothing to do with her appointment.

Limerick City and County Manager Conn Murray who recommended Ms Ryan for the post has defended the appointment.

Mr Murray insists he used a process which is "highly acceptable in context of the private sector" to ensure the most appropriate person was put in place to do the job.

In a statement released after his resignation, Karl Wallace, a former director of Limerick's Belltable Arts Centre, said:  “We grew to realise that the roles of artistic director and those of the programming team would no longer be central to the City of Culture year, as the event progressed under new management.

"While I regret making an early departure I can no longer stand over a project that I have concerns about, concerns that have been repeatedly aired but not addressed."

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