Five members quit board of National Concert Hall over critical note

Jimmy Deenihan’s department confirms new appointments

The National Concert Hall in Dublin.

The National Concert Hall in Dublin.


Differences of opinion on “governance and board focus” led to five members quitting the board of the National Concert Hall earlier this month, it has been claimed.

John McGrane, a senior figure at Ulster Bank and a member of the board, yesterday said there was a disagreement on the board and some people chose to leave.

“It is as simple as that. That is their right and I respect them. Business will carry on,” he said.

The five quit at the National Concert Hall’s annual meeting, in Dublin, on April 9th, following circulation of a note to members of the board, which was critical of the position of some unnamed members.

The resignations are the culmination of a split in the board evident throughout the past year.

The note was drafted by Mr McGrane, who has told The Irish Times of “professional differences” with some on the board.

A copy was also sent to Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan, who also attended the annual meeting but did not address Mr McGrane’s note.

Stand down
Those who resigned are Pat Heneghan, Bruce Arnold, Artemis Kent and Patricia Slavin. NCH board chairwoman Margaret Ryan, who had previously indicated her intention to stand down, also formally resigned at the meeting.

The board is ordinarily comprised of 15 members, including the chairman.

The board is understood to be split on the running of the National Concert Hall in general and on strategies for the future.

The differences “were on board governance and board focus”, Mr McGrane said and were not related specifically to financial or artistic concerns. “They were purely about the focus of the board.”

“It is my belief that the focus of the board should be on being positive and proactive in the best interests of the hall.”

Those who resigned were appointed to five-year terms on the board, in July 2011, by Mr Deenihan, with Ms Ryan appointed to the chair last year in place of former chairman Kieran Tobin, who resigned for personal reasons. Last September Ms Ryan was appointed a director with Fáilte Ireland.

Mr McGrane was also appointed to the board of the NCH by Mr Deenihan in 2011.

Last night in a statement Mr Deenihan’s Department confirmed the four ordinary members of the board who stepped down on April 9th did so “due to differences on the board”.

“The matters that were raised are matters for resolution by the board. The main purpose of the Minister’s address to the board on April 9th was to inform the board that the Government has decided to place the National Concert Hall on a statutory footing,” the statement added.

It also confirmed a number of new appointments to the board including new chairman Gerry Kearney, a retired secretary general of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Mr Kearney will take the position as chairman on an interim basis until the new legislation has been enacted. This development will trigger the establishment of a new board.

Others appointments include Maura McGrath, who has over 20 years experience working at senior management and executive levels in the private and public sectors; Barney Whelan, director of communications and corporate affairs at An Post; Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, a pianist, composer and academic who holds the professorship of music at the Irish world music academy of music and dance based at the University of Limerick; and Rebecca Gageby, head of programmes and administration at the Royal Irish Academy.