HUNDREDS of people have attended a public meeting to discuss the future of Limerick City of Culture following the resignation of artistic director, Karl Wallace and two of his programming team.
The meeting, at the Clarion Hotel, was attended by members of the artistic community in Limerick and members of the City of Culture board as well as CEO Patricia Ryan.
Addressing the sometimes heated meeting, Pat Cox, chairman of board, said Mr Wallace’s resignation was not expected, anticipated or wished for, and that it was a “bump in the road”.
He said the board, which met earlier today, did not want to create a sense of distance or exclusion and that it would move to appoint a new Artistic Director in the next week.
He said a member of the artistic community will also be brought onto the board.
Yesterday, Mr Cox revealed that the board of Limerick City of Culture requested Limerick City Council to carry out “performance review” of Karl Wallace’s work following a meeting late last year.
A number of those, who addressed tonight’s meeting said they had no confidence in the CEO, the board or the chairman and there was a large show of hands after calls were made for Ms Ryan to resign.
Last year, the appointment of Ms Ryan, sparked controversy after it emerged she was not appointed in accordance with usual public service recruitment procedures.
“We had a good person in Karl Wallace because he came through a proper process of recruitment the CEO did not come through a similar process,” said Cllr Tom Shortt.
In her first public comment since Mr Wallace’s resignation Patricia Ryan insisted she would “very much like to continue working” with The City of Culture.
“I have never claimed to have an artistic or cultural background, My job is not to provide the artistic direction,” she said.
At a press conference, following the public meeting, she insisted she would not be resigning her position.
During the meeting, Mr Cox insisted he had nothing to do with the appointment of his former advisor to the position of CEO.
He also dismissed suggestions his appointment was a political one and said he has never sought to abuse his “privilege as chairman”.
Limerick City and County Manager Conn Murray, told the meeting that in his 34 years as a public servant he had never had his integrity questioned.
“Unfortunately, people have decided to concentrate on personality and process rather than the delivery of a programme,” he said.
After lengthy questions from the floor Mr Cox told the meeting he was “humbled” by the contributions and the board would need time to reflect on the night.
A further public meeting is expected to take place next week.