University of Limerick kept paying retired staffer

University of Limerick continued to make consultancy payments to a retired financial controller after he turned 60 and was also receiving a pension, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee has been told.

The university’s current director of finance John Field has written to the PAC to correct statements he made to it seven weeks ago about the payments. The former financial controller was one of two people to receive severance payments between €220,000 and €230,000, which had not been approved by the Department of Education, when they retired from UL in 2012.

The arrangements around severance payments, and how they are applied and decided, are to be examined in the review at UL announced last week by Education Minister Richard Bruton.

Former Institute of Technology Sligo president Richard Thorn will also probe allegations by three whistleblowers about expenses claims.

Mr Field told the committee on March 30 that the former financial controller was re-hired for three years up to 2015. But he had said that he was not paid by UL once he reached 60, having finished working on a consultancy basis before his pension kicked in.

In a follow-up letter to the PAC, Mr Field said the individual was 57 and 11 months when his employment was terminated. As he had stated at the meeting in March, the consultancy payments continued to be paid for three years after the man’s employment ended.

This meant there was a consultancy payment after he turned 60 and was receiving a pension.

“This occurred for 11 months. The amount of the payment combined with his pension did not exceed his original salary,” he wrote.

Mr Field explained that he believed when he was giving evidence to the PAC meeting that the man was 57 when his employment ended, and that UL stopped making consultancy payments to him when he turned 60.

Mr Thorn must report to the Higher Education Authority by September 30.

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