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27/07/2021

WATCH: UL president admits 'best practice' was not followed during purchase of former Dunnes Stores site

THE President of the University of Limerick has accepted that 'best practice' wasn't adhered to regarding the purchase of the former Dunnes Stores building in Limerick city centre.

UL has asked consultants KPMG to investigate its purchase of the former store at Sarsfield Street for around €8m in 2019.

The university plans to develop a city centre campus on the site which, it later emerged, had been valued at €3 million just two years earlier.

Answering questions from members of the Public Accounts Committee this Thursday, Professor Kerstin Mey confirmed UL has no record of any written independent valuation related to the purchase on file.

She said she could not say if one was received but members of the PAC were told there is email correspondence between the valuer and the consultant who oversaw the purchase.

A transaction fee of €9,500 was also paid for the valuation.

Prof Mey accepted best practice had not been followed and she added that the procurement process relating to the appointment of the consultant who oversaw the purchase was non-compliant.

During a lengthy hearing, the president was pushed for further details regarding the purchase of the site but said she was unable to comment further until the KPMG review is complete. 

Prof Mey indicated this report will be submitted to UL in the coming weeks and she agreed to disclose it and other relevant material to the committee.

She agreed the Opera Site in Limerick city centre was initially identified by UL as the location for its city centre campus and that a decision to purchase the Dunnes site was only made after it became available.

Prof Mey said the former Dunnes Stores building could be read for use in September and that work on a master plan for the site will begin as soon as possible.

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