MAZARS, the independent consultants appointed to conduct a review into allegations regarding finances at the University of Limerick, has revealed the details of how people can make submissions in strict confidence.
The Limerick Leader understands that the review is now under way, with a number of people, including three female whistleblowers – being interviewed and others expected to participate.
Former and current employees are being urged to come forward by Higher Education Authority, safe in the knowledge that they will not face any action by UL. The contact details are provided here at the bottom of the story.
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 in writing or in person, will be in confidence,” said the spokesperson.
Asked if any people’s identities will be revealed in any final report to be published, the spokesperson again wished to allay any such concerns. “Any actions that could be taken arising from this review will be agreed with those concerned in the first instance, with their complete approval.
“It will also be possible to redact people’s personal information in any report.
“The review is now progressing. Mazars has been in contact with a number of individuals, but it’s still at an early stage,” said the HEA representative. However, they added that as Mazars is conducting the review they are maintaining a professional distance and that the HEA is not involved in the review on a day-to-day basis.
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea, who has been approached by several former UL staff in recent months, has urged anyone with relevant information to come forward and make contact with Mazars, using the details provided in the panel, left.
“It’s important that people are encouraged to come forward. Nobody wants to damage the reputation of the university, but obviously problems have been brought to light and it’s in the interests of everyone, including the university, to bring a satisfactory resolution to the problem. I think that would necessitate the widest possible number of people giving their experience [to the review group]. I think people really have a duty to come forward,” he said. Both he and Deputy Niall Collins have been to the forefront of representing the current and former employees involved who have raised concerns in relation to the processing of payments and expenses in UL over a number of years.
The HEA earlier outlined to this newspaper that it has “sought and been given the assurance that UL will not action any confidentiality agreements with the complainants, and we would expect a similar commitment should anyone in a similar position come forward with information which is material to this review.”
The review by Mazars, the HEA’s internal auditors, is expected to be completed by November 30. If not, an interim report will be provided by that date. The findings will be made public on conclusion of the review.
The review team will report directly to the HEA and they will remain in close liaison with the Minister of Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan.
The university, when asked if it wished to further assure employees of their freedom to approach the review with impunity, stated this Wednesday: “It would not be appropriate for UL to comment while the review is in progress.”
The university also declined to clarify whether, in the interests of openness, an email would now be sent to the UL community, following confirmation of the review’s contact details. UL has previously emailed all staff and students about its decision to sue the Limerick Leader and the paper’s editor, personally.
UL has previously issued a statement saying it is “anxious to bring rapid closure to this matter as its continuation over a prolonged period risks damaging our excellent reputation regarding matters of governance.
“We would again urge the HEA to bring their review to a conclusion as soon as possible and we will cooperate fully with any investigation that the HEA chooses.”
UL REVIEW CONTACT DETAILS:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 01-449 4463
- Contact: Corné Mouton (Partner)
- Address: Harcourt Centre, Block 3, Harcourt Road, Dublin 2