Dramsoc secures return of missing £800
By The University Observer Archives | Aug 13 2018Originally published in Volume IV,Issue 1 on 19th September 1997 by Alan Torney & Katherine O’Callaghan. Following an intervention by college authorities over the summer, former Dramsoc auditor Niall O’Brien has pledged to return between £745 and £780 to the society. To date a substantial amount of the lost money has been returned to Dramsoc via the college official dealing with the matter. He has been given assurances that this initial sum will be followed shortly by the amount outstanding. It is thought unlikely, at this stage, that any serious disciplinary action will be taken by the College. The options open to the authorities are limited by the fact that Mr. O’Brien was not a registered student in UCD during his tenure as Dramsoc auditor last year. Furthermore, Mr. O’Brien will not be returning to complete his Arts degree in UCD and this week is registering as a student in the Manchester college for a three year theatre course. UCD will be considering informing the Manchester college of his conduct while in Dublin. This disciplinary action has been used in the past by the college and, if used, would detrimentally affect Mr. O’Brien’s academic career. However it is understood that the gesture of O’Brien’s initial payment has eased college concerns about the issue and a more lenient course of action may be taken. Details of the investigation have not been forwarded to the Gardai and the matter is expected to be resolved through internal means alone. It is understood that a number of Dramsoc cheques, totally between £745 and £780 were involved. The Society’s Senior Treasurer is Dr. David Tipple of the Maths Department. Enquiries have been made as to the authenticity of Dr. Tipple’s signatures on the cheques being investigated. Niall O’Brien’s year as Dramsoc auditor was troubled from the beginning by upsets and committee problems. Before the academic year had even begun, members of the committee complained that Mr. O’Brien had been uncontactable for the most of the summer - traditionally one of the busiest periods for a Dramsoc committee. As Freshers’ Week approached, two members of the committee - Erin Feeney and Doireann Gillan - had resigned their positions. Throughout the first term, some blamed the auditor’s erratic behaviour and disorganisation for the occasional absence of plays at the usual slots of lunchtime and evenings. As Christmas arrived, the Society Treasurer, Shane Cassells resigned. Allegations of financial misappropriation ensued as it emerged that Mr. O’Brien had taken funds in excess of his budget, apparently to finance the play he was directing. This was made possible by the fact that the treasurer who succeeded Cassells was unaware the Mr. O’Brien has already received his allotted budget. Last year a college publication alleged that Mr. O’Brien had taken in total £60 extra at this time and also alleged that some of this money was taken directly from the cash box. As a result of the allegations, a vote of no-confidence in the auditor was tabled by the Dramsoc committee. This vote was carried by seven votes to two, but O’Brien survived as auditor since a unanimous decision is required by the Dramsoc constitution for an impeachment. However, three of his committee resigned immediately following the vote. The absence of almost £800 from Society funds was first noticed by this year’s incoming committee at the start of the summer. The committee is refusing, at the moment, to comment on the affair until it has been sorted out by the College. However, in the context of the Society’s overall budget, the absence of several hundred pounds is not likely to affect its performance this year.