THE chief executive of the Limerick Regeneration Agencies has admitted six staff, including his daughter and the son of a non-executive director of the agencies, were recruited by the body without going through the standard public appointments process.
Brendan Kenny's daughter Yvonne was recruited as a clerical officer and Brian McElligott - a son of Limerick Regeneration Southside non-executive director Liam McElligott - was also hired as a project officer, along with four other staff, with contracts up until June 2012.
Kenny, who previously was a highly regarded assistant Dublin city manager, was headhunted in 2007 to lead the project aimed at regenerating the most disadvantaged areas of Limerick.
Following queries from the Sunday Tribune last week, he acknowledged appointments, including that of his daughter, were made without publicly advertising the positions.
He explained there was an enormous urgency, and demand from local residents, at the time he took the position to get the agencies up and running. The type of appointments needed were quite unique and to go through the public process, rather than "hand picking" recruits, would have taken "months and months".
At the time, Kenny said, "we felt there was such an urgency [because of the crisis facing the disadvantaged areas] but of course with hindsight it would have been better to go through the process".
He noted that his daughter Yvonne's appointment was at the lowest level grade and that she had quickly filled the requirement to appoint somebody who could cover accounts, IT and reception. Having moved down from Dublin with his family staying in the capital, he also said it was of "big benefit to me personally" to be joined by his daughter.
Kenny stressed that Liam McElligott was a non-executive director – one of 34 board members between the north- and southside bodies – and that he had made "no approach whatsoever" in relation to his son.
Brian McElligott is from Limerick, which was important for those working on the project team, and had some experience of project management.
He also said the chair and the board were happy to sign off on the six appointments. Kenny added that the appointments were not at management level and at the time they were recruited they would have had no difficulty in getting jobs elsewhere given the booming economy.
Limerick Regeneration was established in 2007 following public revulsion at an arson attack in Moyross on Gavin and Millie Murray.
It has been widely praised for its work to date and the masterplan it has drawn up is due to go to cabinet this week. Kenny said staff had been working "night and day" and at weekends to this end.