Film festival chief and programmer made redundant

Mick Hannigan, the CEO and man in charge of the Cork Film Festival for almost 30 years, has been ousted and made redundant by the board of the festival.

Festival programmer Una Feely has also lost her job. Festival administrator Seán Kelly is the only permanent staff member to be retained.

The move comes in the wake of the decision by title sponsor Corona to withdraw support.

Arts Council funding this year has been deferred pending the completion of a review of activities commissioned by the festival board.

In a statement, Mr Hannigan said: “The company was funded to Mar 31. There is every reasonable expectation that the Arts Council will continue to fund the event as they have without fail since 1986. Yet staff were laid off in February and I was instructed not to make any submission to the council which would enable a funding decision in March. This resulted in a spurious funding crisis being created, resulting in the removal of the management and programming team.

“The chairman has told us that the company intend advertising for new staff. If the financial difficulties were genuine this would not be happening.”

Mr Hannigan and Ms Feely later said they were shocked by the board’s decision, which “came out of the blue” and was conveyed to them on Mar 15 by chairman Denis McSweeney. “The reason we were given was that it was due to the financial position of the company when, in fact, it is on a secure financial footing, making a surplus every year,” said Mr Hannigan.

However, Mr McSweeney insisted the festival’s finances remain precarious, although he pledged there would be a festival in November.

The board will not be paying redundancy to either Mr Hannigan or Ms Feely. Instead, it will be processed through the Government’s Social Insurance Fund.

Frances Lynch, one of the film festival’s most successful fundraisers, has resigned from the board in protest at the redundancies.

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