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Friday, 3 January 2014

Limerick City of Culture 2014 - Time To Say Goodbye

As Limerick City of Culture 2014 descends into something approaching total disaster, I think it's clear why:

"FORMER MEP and president of the European Parliament Pat Cox signed off on hiring his former assistant to a top job which was not advertised." (Irish Independent, November 2013) 

Patricia Ryan was an assistant to Cox while he was an MEP and also worked for Cox’s Progressive Democrat colleague Mary Harney while she was in government. She has no specific experience of working within the arts sector.

She was appointed to the job of CEO of Limerick City of Culture. Pat Cox is the Chair of the Board. The job was not advertised.

Ms Ryan’s lack of arts experience showed when she asked that lyrics in a rap song composed for Limerick City of Culture 2014 by two young people from Moyross, Nathan Keane and Calvin McNamara, be changed. See today’s Irish Times. The lyrics remained the same and you can hear them here. The rap song starts about one minute and fifty four seconds in

Limerick City of Culture 2014 began on January 1st i.e. on Wednesday. Then yesterday, January 2nd, the Artistic Director Karl Wallace (below) and two other people involved in programming the festival all resigned. 

I've always thought Pat Cox a knob of the most extravagant order, with all due respect to knobs everywhere, which can actually be quite useful in certain circumstances, certainly more useful than the appropriately named Mr Cox. Surely now he should be told by the government to resign as Chairman of the Board and his former assistant, Patricia Ryan, should be asked to clear her desk also? It isn’t working. 

Pat Cox, second from right, urging people to say yes to a bunch of stuff 

I'm not a petition signer generally, when it comes to arts related issues. Those who rush to sign them, especially the online variety, tend to be a mix of the most tragic bastards going and people who fantasise that the arts establishment and perhaps also the Jews are conspiring against them.

However, I would certainly put my name to a petition of artists and arts organisers calling on the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, and the Limerick City and County manager, Conn Murray, to tell Patricia Ryan and Pat Cox that, though it's been fun, it is - in the words of Andrew Lloyd Weber - time to say goodbye.

Given Pat Cox's dismissal of the issues raised by the resignations my poem 'Portrait of The Boss Shaking Hands With Himself' is, I think, appropriate. It's from my 2005 collection The Boy With No Face.