University of Limerick whistleblowers urge Minister to intervene in dispute

Jess Casey

Reporter:

Jess Casey

The whistleblowers from the University of Limerick have urged the Minister for Education to intervene in their ongoing dispute

The whistleblowers from the University of Limerick have urged the Minister for Education to intervene in their ongoing dispute

TWO whistleblowers from the University of Limerick’s finance department have urged the Minister for Education to intervene in their ongoing dispute with the university.

Almost a year after UL first lifted the suspensions of two staff members who raised concerns about financial practices, the employees known as Persons B and C have yet to return to work. 

Persons B and C, who will be put on half-pay next month by UL unless there is a resolution to their situation, have called on new Minister for Education Joe McHugh to familiarise himself with their case and take action. 

“I’d like for the Minister to really hear us and to see us on a human level,” Person B told the Limerick Leader this week. 

“I would really like to be heard and listened to. To sit down and actually have a proper conversation,” Person C said.

“To hear me, my voice, and look at how this has impacted on me and look to see how he can resolve this.” 

The whistleblowers say that the process to facilitate their return to work in different roles was abruptly terminated in July by UL, when they were instructed to return to their previous department. Both women say they are too fearful to return to the old jobs. UL has long since replaced them in the finance department. 

In response to enquiries from the Leader, a UL spokesperson said the university “continues to work through the procedures and processes laid down” for resolving HR issues in the public sector.

“The staff who were previously suspended from the workplace have been encouraged to return to the workplace. This process of mediation and due process began last November, 2017, when UL lifted a suspension on two employees.” 

The Leader contacted UL about Persons B and C this Tuesday evening. On Wednesday morning, Person C received a letter by email from the office of the UL president, informing her that the university had identified a “redeployment opportunity” for her in a different department from November 1. Person C said the letter made no reference to the numerous issues that remain unresolved. 

“I don’t think they have any understanding of what me and Person B have been through for more than three years, or the effect this has had on our mental health.

“I don’t feel like I will be supported and unfortunately I don’t feel welcome after everything that has gone on. I find this situation extremely difficult and I have a child to look after. For that reason I am still calling on the Minister for Education to help sort this out once and for all.”