FORMER Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan has insisted that his decision to quit the board of Writers’ Week has nothing to do with the ongoing controversy over the disbandment of the voluntary committee.
The former Arts Minister has stepped down from the Writers’ Week board in a shock move this week.
Mr Deenihan’s decision to quit the board is in the interest of managing a heavy voluntary workload. He told The Kerryman that he has also stood down from the board of charity GOAL and from the chair of the Kerry Sports and Recreation Partnership.
He is now seeking to focus on his voluntary work as chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Munster Technological University, which is increasingly demanding full-time attention, he said.
But his decision to quit the board has raised eyebrows in Listowel coming after a reportedly heated meeting on Saturday amid efforts to resolve the row at the heart of the festival.
That was sparked by the board’s disbandment in September of the voluntary committee that has long played a huge role in organising the festival.
Efforts to resolve the row have been underway since, most recently involving a professional individual who had offered their services in the interest of finding common ground between the board members and the voluntary committee in hopes of a breakthrough.
But the meeting ended without resolution amid a heated difference of opinion, a source close to proceedings informed The Kerryman.
Meanwhile, the Writers’ Week board experienced a bruising day out on social media last week when an advert it placed seeking volunteers to help with this year’s festival attracted negative remarks from locals – before the commentary facility was turned off.
Jimmy Deenihan has insisted his move has nothing to do with the controversy or the meeting at the weekend and said the festival has ‘my total support’.
“My decision has nothing to do with that...I have stepped down from a number of boards. I was on too many. I am coming off GOAL and the Kerry Sports and Recreation Partnership too, in order to put my principal focus on my role as Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the MTU.”
Mr Deenihan pointed towards the new position of curator within Writers’ Week occupied by Belfast native Stephen Connolly. Mr Connolly’s appointment was widely welcomed, including among members of the disbanded committee.
“It is the curator who is putting the programme together now and Stephen is doing a brilliant job with some major names lined up. The full programme will be announced shortly with the function of the directors now one of oversight really,” he said. He suggested remaining board members are set to depart after this year’s festival: “Board members have only a few months left to discharge their duties...that was in the report [referring to the document that recommended disbanding the committee].”