Finance Minister Michael Noonan has called on everyone involved in the Limerick City of Culture project to unite behind the programme, which he hopes will not be tarnished by the controversy surrounding the appointment of its CEO.
The recent appointment of Patricia Ryan without the position being advertised, has drawn criticism both locally and nationally.
Ms Ryan is former special advisor to City of Culture chairman Pat Cox, but any suggestion that he influenced her appointment has been vigorously denied.
Conn Murray, the Limerick city and county manager, who recommended the appointment of Ms Ryan to the board, says it was due to the short time frame involved that the proper process was not followed.
However he has rejected suggestions that Ms Ryan was parachuted into the role insisting that he spoke to five potential candidates including Ms Ryan.
Minister Noonan was asked about the controversy this Friday afternoon at the official opening of the redeveloped King John’s Castle.
Speaking to reporters he said he supports the decision of the board to appoint Ms Ryan. “Decisions have to be made. The process is killing the country. Sometimes things have to be decided and done and that (the appointment of Patricia Ryan) was decided in the summertime and I fully support the decision of the board to do it”.
He said the City of Culture is a great concept which has attracted a lot of good people with strong backgrounds who have given their time free of charge to develop the programme.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to rebrand this city. to put a lot of the bad times behind us and to put out a new image of the city and we need to get that message out far and wide,” he said.
Mr Noonan urged those involved with Limerick City of Culture to put their differences aside for the good of the project.
“There is always difference of opinions in big projects but there are also fora for sorting out differences, where people can discuss things and it would be a pity now when we are rebranding the city and giving it the kind of image it deserves that would be tarnished in any way by discontent but I think it’s just a minor event, I think it’s blowing through the system already.”
When asked directly if he believed Ms Ryan’s job as CEO should have been publicly advertised he said the position has to be put in context.
“When you say CEO it sounds like a very high level appointment but what you are talking about is a temporary appointment for 18 months. The City of Culture is a year long event and there is a bit of a lead in time and there will be a bit of a wrap up time at the end so what you are talking about is a temporary position for 18 months.”
Mr Noonan told reporters he only met Ms Ryan for the first time recently but “looking at her career to date she is an extremely competent person and we are lucky to have her”.