HIGH-ranking administrative and academic staff from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) are under investigation by an emergency Oireachtas committee over an unauthorised payment of bonuses and allowances. Approximately fourteen staff members’ pay packages, including that of Trinity Provost, John Hegarty, could be subject to the investigation. Of the staff members currently under investigation, eight are professors at the university. Professor John Boland from the Chemistry Department is alleged to have received additional allowances of €123,008 in 2007 on top of his annual salary of €143,394. The bonus payments represent 85 per cent of his salary level and brought his total pay package over the recommended level for university academics.
The other professors receiving pay deals above the review body’s recommended level are Professor Igor Shvets, Professor John Coey and Professor John Bethica of the Department of Physics, Professor Kenneth Wolfe and Professor Seamus Martin of the Department of Genetics and Professor Kinston Mills of the Department of Chemistry. Furthermore, former College Treasurer, Grace Dempsey, former College Secretary, Michael Gleeson and former College Senior Lecturer, Colm Kearney are also part of the investigation.
Although Provost John Hegarty’s salary and expenses do not exceed the guidelines, his residence is at Trinity’s expense, which includes security and cleaning costs. TCD has maintained that all additional allowances were expenses incurred by the staff and were awarded within the existing guidelines.
However, the Minister for Education, Batt O’Keeffe and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) had declared that sufficient inconsistencies exist for the matter to further warrant and investigation. Mr O’Keeffe added that, depending on the results of the investigation,
he may have to look at reducing funds allocated to Trinity in the future.
Last October, the HEA defended the pay levels of leading university figures saying they were on par with the pay of chief executives of similar sized enterprises in the private sector. Both Government officials and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) have labelled the earnings hypocritical, particularly in light of recent demands by senior staff from within Trinity for additional funds to deal with the current economic climate.
Joseph Brady, President of the IFUT, expressed his disappointment in the allegations stating that the current education system cannot afford to continue paying such funds. He criticised the HEA’s reluctance to issue the information as well as the secrecy and selectivity behind the payments and benefits for these academics.
The Oireachtas committee are currently investigating the claims and no action has yet been taken against any TCD staff.