THE DEADLINE for the completion of the final report into allegations surrounding the payments of expenses and other financial practices at the University of Limerick has been extended until December 18.
A spokesperson for the Higher Education Authority (HEA) told the Limerick Leader that it has received the interim report from Mazars, the independent consultants appointed to lead the review into allegations by a number of former staff of UL.
The HEA is now reviewing the document.
“The HEA is happy with the way the review is progressing but recognise the need for further work in order to fully deliver on the terms of reference. We have agreed a deadline for submission of the final report of December 18. While both the interim and final reports will be published, it is not our intention to publish the interim report at this stage due to the sensitivities around the ongoing work of the review,” said the spokesperson.
Those interested in making a written or oral submission to the review can still do so (see contact details at the end of this story).
Meanwhile, concerns have been expressed that not enough UL staff and former employees were made aware of the external investigation being conducted into allegations surrounding its finances.
UL failed to issue any communication en masse with its staff about the details of the review, which is still progressing, despite queries from the media and calls by local politicians for UL to do so.
Some former staff have also sought the personal assurances from UL president Don Barry that they would be at liberty to give their evidence with impunity, which was received.
Other staff, who remain fearful and are cautious about coming forward, said they are also seeking written assurances from Arthur Cox, UL’s solicitors, that no legal action will be taken against them.
A UL staff member, who did not wish to be named, told the Limerick Leader: “A lot of people in UL do not know that this review is taking place or that there is an open call to participate. There is concern that UL itself has done nothing to encourage people who may wish to assist the review to come forward.”
Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea, who called for the external review in the Dail, alongside his party colleague Niall Collins, said he is looking forward to receiving the report.
“In the interest of fairness and transparency, UL should reassure all their staff and ex-staff in a public and open manner that they are quite free to come forward.
“In terms of the report, we will be reserving our position. If we’re not happy that the matter has been dealt with thoroughly, it will be pursued further,” deputy O’Dea told the Limerick Leader.
The investigation arose following allegations regarding inappropriate payments made to some senior UL staff, which were first published in the Limerick Leader and subsequently in The Sunday Times. UL has since sued the Leader and its editor, Alan English.
For those who still wish to come forward, the details are: email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01-449 4463, or write to Corné Mouton (Partner), Harcourt Centre, Block 3, Harcourt Road, Dublin 2.