HEA to pay out €80k over University of Limerick dispute

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

HEA to pay out €80k over University of Limerick dispute

The HEA has spent nearly €80,000 in attempting a resolve a long-running dispute at UL

THE Higher Education Authority has spent nearly €80,000 in attempting a resolve a long-running dispute at the University of Limerick, concerning the allegations of two whistleblowers and other claims by former staff.

The HEA confirmed to the Limerick Leader that the initial review they commissioned from Mazars – following the first report by the Limerick Leader last September – has cost some €69,000.

The review comprised three distinct phases over an “intensive three month engagement”, said the HEA; one focusing on Person A’s allegations, one on the allegations of Persons B and C, and one on allegations made by other parties who came forward, with considerable time spent on-site at the University of Limerick.

In addition, another successive report by a facilitator found that the normal avenues for dispute resolution would be highly unlikely to be successful in this case.

Including VAT and travel expenses, this invoice came to €9,610.

The above sums do not include the salaries received by the two employees who are currently suspended with pay for the past 16 months.

Nor does it include the legal fees borne by UL in dealing with this case.

“A lot of money is being spent and all people are looking for is basic justice. It’s very, very frustrating. I haven’t dealt with anything like this before,” said Fianna Fail deputy Willie O’Dea, who raised the case of the two women in the Dail a year ago.

Both he and deputy Niall Collins will again be raising issues at UL under oral questions in the Dail in the coming weeks.

The HEA has stated that it has exhausted its powers in dealing with the UL case, and has passed it on to the Department of Education and Skills.

The Limerick Leader is awaiting a full response from that department to a number of queries.

In a statement to the Limerick Leader this week, the whistleblowers said: “We have been through so much hurt and pain with this situation. It is ongoing trauma and chronic stress.

“Our reputations have also been severely damaged and we deserve to have it rectified.

“We have only told the truth in this situation and we have already been vindicated for that with the Mazars review. This situation has to be resolved and can only be done by someone completely independent to all parties.”

“We just want all our issues answered and that is resolved fairly for everyone's benefit so that we can all move on from this.”

In all, more than a dozen allegations were brought to the attention of the HEA involving claims regarding expenses, and human resource practices.

A spokesperson for UL said that there are currently two claims before the Workplace Relations Commission in relation to the suspended employees, and “the university is cooperating fully with this process. In the interim, the university is exploring any other options available to resolve this matter”.