Staff at Institute of Technology Tralee are said to be in shock that anyone who leaked details of a plagiarism complaint against the college chairperson might face disciplinary action.
The probe into the case brought to college authorities’ attention last November has not yet been finalised, but former Fianna Fáil Clare County Council member, Flan Garvey, said in December he would be defending his position.
It is claimed by 26 IT Tralee academics that three chapters of his 2008 dissertation for a Masters in Arts degree at the college, about the history of his local parish, were "verbatim copies of uncited or misleadingly cited works". The college appointed a three-member panel of external academics to investigate the claims against the governing body chair in January.
But it has emerged that college president Oliver Murphy plans to investigate how information about the complaint reached the media. He told a meeting of the college’s academic council it would take place once the plagiarism allegation investigation is finished.
The Irish Examiner understands a December meeting of the 30-member council — days after details appeared in this newspaper — was told by Dr Murphy that college management had signed a statement saying they did not leak information. It was understood by those in attendance that the academics who made the plagiarism allegation will be expected to do the same.
One college source, who did not wish to be named, said staff are shocked that the college would talk about investigating the complainants, yet the plagiarism issue is still not concluded. "They only seemed to have acted under pressure when it came into the public domain in the first place."
The academic council was told a month ago by college registrar, Michael Hall that the process should be finished by the end of April.
The Irish Examiner also understands the report of the investigation panel was received by the college’s Examinations and Assessment Review Committee in mid-February. The process allows appeals to be made in relation to the outcome or the subsequent decision of the committee.
A number of questions were sent to IT Tralee by the Irish Examiner about the investigation and plans to investigate media leaks, but it did not provide answers. "The investigation into this matter is still in process and accordingly the institute has no comment to make on the queries you have raised," a spokesman said.
At the governing body’s December meeting, Mr Garvey handed over his duties to his deputy chairman while the probe takes place.