Cork Institute of Technology has been criticised for agreeing to pay half the cost of painting two chaplaincy houses owned by the Catholic Church.
Material released under the Freedom of Information Act to Atheist Ireland shows that in 2014, CIT agreed to pay 50% of a €2,626 fee for the painting of two chaplaincy houses — at Numbers 3 and 5 Elton Lawn, Bishopstown — despite the fact it did not own the properties.
In a letter to the institute’s financial officer, CIT chaplain Dave McAuliffe outlined that the diocese was “very grateful” for the payment and requested CIT make the payment to the Cork and Ross Diocesan Office.
“I can assure you that the diocese is very grateful that CIT have agreed to fund 50% of the cost for the painting of 3 & 5 Elton Lawn and wish me to convey this message to CIT and to you in particular,” he wrote in the letter.
“The diocese will pay the full amount to each of the three recipients (see invoices) and therefore, I would be most grateful if the 50% payment of €2,626 could be made payable to Rev Dr Tom Deenihan, diocesan secretary, Cork and Ross Diocesan Office, Redemption Road, Cork.”
Atheist Ireland hit out at the payment, stating that the expenditure of public funds on services was subject to certain rules.
“The expenditure of public funds, on either services contracts or employment contracts, is subject to public appointments rules and public procurement rules. All secular service providers are subject to such rules but it seems that Cork IT is only willing to break them in the case of private agreements with the Roman Catholic Church,” it said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for CIT confirmed it did not own the properties but said the offer of payment for painting the houses was in recognition of the services provided by the chaplaincy.
“CIT did contribute 50% of the cost of repainting some years ago — this was done in recognition of the services supplied by the chaplaincy through those premises. They form an important resource to the provision of our overall pastoral care service,” she said.
Earlier this month, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan asked the Higher Education Authority to investigate the appointment of chaplains at third-level institutions across the country.
This was after material released to Atheist Ireland revealed that most of the country’s institutes of technology have no public appointment or tendering procedure for the employment of chaplains.
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