Niall Collins, TD
Fianna Fail deputy Niall Collins, who raised the issues of the three whistleblowers in the Dail last year, responds to the Mazars' review on allegations regarding UL and its implications, in a statement to the Limerick Leader:
Given the comments of the HEA following receipt of the Mazars report is very clear that the actions of the whistleblowers have been totally vindicated.
The HEA have acknowledged quite clearly that the whistleblowers' concerns were both merited and genuine and furthermore that UL’s handling of these was totally inadequate. Leona O'Callaghan, the first whistleblower, approached me some time ago and as a public representative I found her to be entirely credible.
At that time I sent her concerns to the Public Accounts Committee. Almost four years later, it is clear that those concerns were fully justified. All three whistleblowers who co-operated with the Mazars process have performed a valuable public service and UL should now acknowledge that.
A fair and independent media, free from bias, is a cornerstone of a modern society and democracy. This allows for reportage of matters deemed to be in the public interest, especially where public funds are being spent.
The Limerick Leader did just this when contacted by the whistleblowers.
The arrogant reaction by the University of Limerick to issue legal proceedings against the Limerick Leader – and personally against its editor, Alan English – is unprecedented, given the details now in the public domain.
The public were very concerned about what the whistleblowers revealed and this was further compounded by the university's reaction. Its attempt to legally crush the Limerick Leader and its editor has backfired spectacularly now. Having done so already in Dáil Éireann, I am again calling on the university to withdraw this legal action, which serves no purpose or public interest.
Senior management at UL need to recognise their mistakes, apologise and move on from this sorry saga. However, the question of accountability also arises and serious questions must also be asked about the effectiveness of the university’s Governing Authority.
Its function should be to oversee, not to act like an arm of management. In standing over the senior management’s attempt to deal with this situation by spending more public money in issuing High Court proceedings, that is the impression that has now been created.