University of Limerick report will go directly to Minister for Education

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

Email:

jess.casey@limerickleader.ie

The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) drafted a special report into the findings of an internal audit carried out at UL

The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) drafted a special report into the findings of an internal audit carried out at UL

A SPECIAL REPORT carried out by the State’s financial watchdog into allegations that the University of Limerick, or people in it, may have misled its office will go directly to the office of the Minister for Education prior to its publication.

The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) drafted a special report into the findings of an internal audit carried out at UL, which found that the university provided inaccurate or incomplete information to several government bodies.

This report is now being finalised and will be sent to the office of the Minister for Education Richard Bruton prior its publication, which is expected in September.

Once it has been signed, the Minister has three months to present it. 

The findings of an internal audit carried out by Deloitte found that UL provided inaccurate or incomplete information, in relation to €1.2 million in severance payments, breaches in procurement policy and spending on study abroad schemes for staff to a number of Government departments. 

Details of this internal audit first came to light in February 2018.

The Deloitte report found that a number of the university’s most senior staff, notably the former president Dr Don Barry and former head of human resources Tommy Foy, provided “inaccurate” or “incomplete” information to the Department of Education and Skills, the Dail Public Accounts Committee, the Comptroller and Auditor General, public broadcaster RTE, and even UL’s own legal advisors. 

None of the severance agreements examined as part of this audit had been approved by the Department of Education. 

One compromise agreement was also backdated “and presented to the C&AG as a factual representation of what occurred.”

The audit also found that UL spent €91,047 on two senior staff members in the HR department – Mr Foy and Patrick Rockett - obtaining three-year online doctorates at Walden University in the United States, an institution ranked academically inferior to UL.

This figure included €12,000 on trips to Paris, Texas and Florida for workshops and a graduation ceremony. The report states that, in both cases, there were multiple instances of the further study not being in compliance with UL’s stated policy.

Dr Barry admitted to Deloitte auditors that he was not aware of UL having a policy of further study.

Following the publication of the audit, UL advised the Public Accounts Committee that 17 of the audit’s 42 recommendations had been implemented and 25 were currently in progress.

Tommy Foy, the former head of human resources named in the Deloitte audit, stepped down from his position at the university in early July. 

The Limerick Leader understands that Mr Foy has since joined UL subsidiary UniJobs. 

A source confirmed that no financial agreement or settlement was made with Mr Foy before he stepped down from the role of HR director.