THE Minister for Further and Higher Education says the withholding of capital funding from UL is proportionate given the concerns over its purchase of the former Dunnes’ site in the city centre.
Simon Harris says lessons must be learned and assurances given before funding can be restored to UL.
The minister, who will visit the university and meet with its management team this Monday, accepts “something went wrong at a point in time” but believes lessons are being learned.
“President Kerstin Mey wasn’t the president of the University of Limerick at the time. She is a superb leader who, is in my view, is doing a really good job of getting things to where they need to get to,” he said.
Minister Harris, who confirmed that he has not seen the KPMG report into the purchase of the Dunnes’ site for €8.34m, says UL needs to provide assurance to him and his department before capital funding is restored.
Earlier this month, the Public Accounts Committee was told around €4m in funding is currently being withheld under two separate programmes.
“From my department point of view, and this won’t come as news to the University of Limerick, we need to close the loop in terms of assurance. I’m very confident that a lot of good work has happened to learn lessons - to learn what went wrong but also to make sure those things can’t go wrong again in the future,” the minister said during a visit to the new Spark Hub co-working space at LEDP, Roxboro.
“What needs to happen now is the University of Limerick needs to be able to show me and, most importantly, my officials who have been working on this that they can assure us that those safeguards are now in place,” he added.
Mr Harris, who will also visit the TUS campus in Moylish and Mary Immaculate College today, says he wants to able to sanction future funding for UL.
“I want to be able to start releasing capital funding to the University of Limerick again. We have a number of exciting projects that we want to move on with. The Mid West needs this, students need it, the local economy needs it but there is a piece that I need to happen which is closing the assurance loop.”
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