THE University of Limerick paid Arthur Cox, one of the biggest law firms in the country, nearly €300,000 over an 18-month period.
An investigation by The Irish Times this week revealed the payments made to Arthur Cox, which also represents Denis O’Brien, pop star Hozier and many Government bodies, revealed that the law firm received some €154,355 from UL in 2013/14 and a further €121,440 in the nine months to June 2015.
Most recently, the firm has been acting on behalf of the university in challenging allegations by two staff members, who are currently suspended, in relation to the payments and processing of expenses and invoices they queried.
The allegations, which were first revealed by the Limerick Leader, are also the subject of High Court proceedings against the Leader and its editor, Alan English, which have been taken by UL, again represented by Arthur Cox.
The article in The Irish Times revealed much higher sums paid by third-level institutions to external bodies, including €2.8m in payments made by Trinity College Dublin to assist in “change management” at the university, based on figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The State’s seven universities said they spent a total of €24,667,441 on external consultants in the three-year period covered by the FoI request.
Meanwhile, the independent consultant firm Mazars has been appointed to conduct a review into allegations regarding finances at UL.
While the review is now under way, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and a number of politicians are urging former or current staff to come forward if they can assist with the review.
A spokesperson for the HEA told this newspaper that they wished to assure anyone with relevant information that they are free to come forward without any repercussions.
“We want to absolutely, 100% assure people that any submissions they wish to make, whether they are in writing or in person, will be in confidence,” said the spokesperson.
To contact the review, in the strictest confidence, email confidential@mazars .ie, call 01-449 4463, or write to Corné Mouton (Partner), Harcourt Centre, Block 3, Harcourt Road, Dublin 2.