Former student health director at University of Limerick 'seeking justice and fair process'

Maria Flannery


Maria Flannery

Legal action: Dr Niall Cahill

Legal action: Dr Niall Cahill

A MEDICAL doctor who was accused of bullying a colleague at the University of Limerick has issued High Court proceedings against UL for defamation and personal damages.

Dr Niall Cahill, the medical director of the Student Health Centre at UL from 2000 to 2015, is the third person cited in the recent HEA report into UL to sue.

Suspended whistleblowers Person B and Person C have also issued proceedings.

At least one other former employee is also considering legal action, on foot of the release of the report by Dr Richard Thorn.

Dr Cahill, Person T in the report, wrote to the new UL president Dr Des Fitzgerald, informing him of the legal proceedings issued on November 14.

“If Des Fitzgerald is acting with moral authority, he will address the wrongs that were perpetrated against all of the victims,” Dr Cahill told the Limerick Leader.

“This is bringing the city into disrepute. It isn’t fair on the decent people of Limerick,” he added.

In 2015, Dr Cahill received a confidential severance package of €185,000, plus his legal costs of €24,600, and a letter of reference from the university in August 2015, after raising concerns about HR following the bullying accusations.

He said that he had been raising concerns around governance and HR matters in UL since 2010, when a number of complaints were made against him by one employee, and a package to leave the university was “foisted” upon him.

Dr Cahill, who is a GP in Limerick city, claimed that former University of Limerick president Dr Don Barry’s remarks to the Public Accounts Committee earlier this year in relation to bullying were “defamatory”.

He denies the bullying “in the strongest terms possible”, and has said that as a doctor for more than 30 years, he wants to “have these allegations heard by the High Court and not by a flawed internal process”. Dr Cahill called for a detailed independent review of all HR investigations carried out by UL.

He also claims that UL “misled” the Revenue Commissioners when he attempted to investigate the status of his employment, after a tender was put out which made him feel as though he was being pushed out.

Regarding Dr Cahill’s case, the HEA report of early November found: “The review believes that a proposal to tender for medical services without obvious attempts to address the fact that Person T had served the University for an extended period was unreasonable and likely to diminish the relationship with Person T.”

It also found that the university’s findings regarding Dr Cahill’s “misconduct” lacked the necessary transparency of decision-making for such a significant hearing.

Dr Cahill now hopes “to seek justice and fair process”.

“There is no moral compass at the heart of the University of Limerick , or at least there has not been for some years now,” he said.

“I won’t be making any settlement until this is all sorted out for all of the victims — it’s not just about my case,” said Dr Cahill.