Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 24 January 2019
Public Accounts Committee
Special Report No. 103 of the Comptroller and Auditor General: Remuneration of certain senior staff in the University of Limerick and Institute of Technology Sligo
Mr. Paul O'Toole:
To address Deputy Cullinane's point, I referred to the 50 people who contributed to the review so that they will not be forgotten. Perhaps I could have phrased it differently but we are very conscious of the duty of care to the people who came forward as part of that review. It is important to stated that, within that group, there are people who made disclosures and individuals who contributed and had different views and believed that their actions were appropriate. There is a conflict and contradiction in that.
The fact that we do not have those specific powers that would allow us to close this specific report does not mean the issues have gone away. That is something I want to discuss with the board in the context of the appropriate next steps. The latter will involve a consideration of what powers we do possess. We have powers to form a view and to put that forward to the Minister for the governing authority. I am also aware that the Department has written to the governing body in some detail and that is going to be part of the mix. If I am in any way conveying that we simply see this as a chapter shut, that is the not the intention.
To answer Deputy Catherine Murphy's question about what prompted the legal advice, I understand this was given in evidence before the committee at some stage last year. As part of a drafting process, the draft was shared with people who would be, if you like, part of the findings which may have occurred. They submitted their views in respect of the draft report. My predecessor at that point took a view about the powers of the HEA which he shared with the committee. The Department sought clarification on that and got further advice from the Attorney General. I understand the Department has shared a summary of that advice with the committee. That advice stated that the HEA would need to take its own legal advice on the specifics of the matter and I was prompted to do that when I came into the role, and here we are today.