Pat Cox denies ‘political interference’ charge

Limerick City of Culture chairman Pat Cox has said he must accept that people think there was political influence at work in his organisation, but has denied that this was the case.

Pat Cox

He said he wanted to press the “reset button” after his former political advisor, Patricia Ryan, resigned as chief executive of the organisation — a role she had been appointed to without public competition.

He said he would not be speaking about the controversy again as his board wanted to get on with rescuing the situation.

He also said he was unsure if Ms Ryan was entitled to any compensation, as Limerick City council had handled all human resources issues on the board’s behalf.

Mr Cox said his only role in the appointment process had been to accept the nomination of Limerick City manager Conn Murray who, he said, had spoken to five candidates before recommending Ms Ryan.

Ms Ryan had already been working as an advisor to the board before she was controversially hired as CEO in November.

Mr Cox said there was a perception that, because Ms Ryan was his former advisor, that it was political decision. “All I can do on the counterpart of that is to say to you what I said at the public meeting, as I said before on media,” said Mr Cox in an interview with Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show.

“I never asked from the time I was asked to undertake this job for anyone to be appointed. I never asked for Patricia Ryan to be appointed.

“I never asked for myself or any contact of mine. People will have their view and I simply have to respect their views,”

The former president of the European parliament said he had gone to work for the board on Sunday not knowing that, later that day, his chief executive would depart.

Mr Cox said Ms Ryan had been the subject of unacceptable personal abuse but, despite this, had left a great legacy.

However, he said there was no turning back the clock and his board would not look to reappoint either Ms Ryan or the resigned artistic director Karl Wallace.

“She [Ms Ryan] has come to the conclusion that, because of the constant, non-stop nature of the criticism, with the peak of it in recent days, her staying on risked becoming a constant drag on something to which she is deeply committed,” said Mr Cox.

“Her choice to leave reflects a staggering credit on her. She leaves with no specific other engagement in place. She leaves with a great deal of goodwill.”

Mr Cox also addressed the role the city manager, Mr Murray, played in the process.

He said Mr Murray had been asked to perform a unique and difficult job in merging two local authorities in Limerick and the regeneration agency into one body. Mr Cox praised his work in this.

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