City of Culture funding should have been announced sooner, admits Jimmy Deenihan

But Minister for Arts says the Government could not have pledged €6m for Limerick any earlier

Pat Cox “must learn a very different language of consultation, trust, respect and inclusivity,” said Councillor Tom Shortt

Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan has conceded that it would have better if the €6 million provided for the Limerick City of Culture had been announced before the budget in October.

Responding to accusations from Limerick City of Culture board members that the late announcement of the budget was at the root of the problems which led to the resignation of both the chief executive and artistic director of the project, Mr Deenihan said he would have preferred if it had been announced in the previous budget but the Government did not have the money.

Mr Deenihan said yesterday the €6 million figure was given as an indicative one to the board members before the budget announcement.

Last night, Limerick City of Culture chairman Pat Cox said they had yet to receive any money. Speaking on RTÉ's Nine O'Clock News last night, Mr Cox said he hoped the City of Culture could move on in a "calm way". He said he was determined to do everything he could to "hit the reset button".


"We need to put together the necessary resources to complete the negotiations with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to secure funds for the City of Culture and to move forward on the legacy work of the programmers."

The decision by embattled City of Culture chief executive Patricia Ryan to resign from the project has been welcomed by many in the artistic and cultural community in Limerick.

Not advertised
Controversy surrounding Ms Ryan's appointment to the €120,000 position continue to rage as the 18-month contract was not advertised. The issue came to a head following the resignations of artistic director Karl Wallace and two programmers last week.

Mr Wallace, who quit 24 hours before the New Year’s Eve launch, said his position on the board was “untenable”.

Richie Ryan, an actor and theatre school director, said he believed Ms Ryan had no choice but to resign.

Cllr Tom Shortt said: "The departure of Ryan opens up real hope that City of Culture can get back on track. Now time is precious.

"Pat Cox must put an end to the offensive and divisive game of discrediting the whistleblowers and immediately open talks designed to get the well-respected artistic director Karl Wallace and programmers Maeve McGrath and Jo Mangan back to work. The resignation indicates that Cox and [Limerick city and county manager Conn] Murray got it dreadfully wrong. If he is to proceed, Cox must learn a very different language of consultation, trust, respect and inclusivity."

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times