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Public Accounts Committee to consider universities’ handling of staff pensions and severance

23 Jan 2019, 17.48

On Thursday, Jan. 24, the Public Accounts Committee will consider how certain third-level educational institutions have managed remuneration of senior staff and overseen the sale of a campus technology spinoff.

In a two-part meeting, the Committee will review special reports produced by Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy into remuneration of senior staff at the University of Limerick and the Institute of Technology Sligo, and into Waterford Institute of Technology’s development and disposal of intellectual property in the campus company FeedHenry.

Scheduled witnesses include

  • Secretary General Seán Ó Foghlú of the Department of Education and Skills
  • University of Limerick President Des Fitzgerald
  • Sligo Institute of Technology President Brendan McCormack
  • Higher Education Authority Chief Executive Paul O’Toole
  • Waterford Institute of Technology President Willie Donnelly

At the first session starting at 9 a.m., the Committee will discuss the findings of C&AG Special Report 103 into the awarding of pension rights for certain employees of the University of Limerick and the awarding of severance payments at both UL and Institute of Technology Sligo.

The second session starts at 2:30 p.m. It focuses on C&AG Special Report 104 into Waterford Institute of Technology’s development of a mobile internet technology incubator called FeedHenry Ltd., which was sold in 2014 for €63.5 million by WIT’s Telecommunication Software and Systems Group (TSSG).

“In the first session, the Committee will be interested to hear about any improvements regarding how decisions are taken on pension and severance awards at the third-level institutions involved,” said Committee Chairman Seán Fleming TD.

“The Committee also will receive an update on progress in implementing the recommendations of Dr. Thorn’s Independent Review of Certain Matters and Allegations Relating to the University of Limerick,” Deputy Fleming said. “The Committee has raised its concerns previously in relation to governance and financial matters at the university and we are keen to see what progress, if any, has been made.”

“In the second session, the Committee looks forward to discussing in detail the C&AG findings in relation to the sale of FeedHenry to an international mobile telecommunications company,” Deputy Fleming said. “We hope to identify what lessons can be learned about best practice in managing valuable intellectual property generated in Ireland’s third-level institutions and preventing possible conflicts of interest as academic projects become commercial commodities.”

The meeting in Committee Room 3 can be viewed live here.

Read the C&AG Special Report 103 here.

Read the C&AG Special Report 104 here.

Read the Thorn Report here.

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Committee membership


Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael

Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael

Fine Gael

Fianna Fáil

Labour Party

Fianna Fáil

Social Democrats