College refuses to reveal portrait costs

CORK Institute of Technology has declined to reveal how much it paid for portraits of two senior managers.

The portraits were recently hung in the college in a move described by staff representatives as inappropriate.

Staff and students have reacted angrily to the decision to hang the portraits of CIT president Dr Brendan Murphy and governing body chairman Dr Paddy Caffrey just before Christmas, with rumours of a cost of €22,000 or more circulating around the college.

A CIT spokesperson said the paintings, by Irish artist Mick O’Dea, were commissioned in 2007, before the current economic troubles were apparent, and were also paid for out of that year’s budget.

She also rejected suggestions that the two officials had travelled to France to sit for the portraits and said that the sittings took place in Dublin.

“They were commissioned after informing the governing body and based on value for money,” she said.

However, the cost of the works would not be released because the college considered it to be commercially sensitive information.

The college spokesperson said no extra costs were incurred by the subjects travelling to Dublin.

The paintings have been hung in the council room of the college’s new administration building.

But Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) executive member Pat Ahern, a lecturer at the college, questioned the decision to hang the paintings at the end of last term.

CIT management are currently in talks with staff representatives and others to seek cutbacks of around €2 million this year.

“It’s the timing that is inappropriate more than anything,” Mr Ahern said.

Some staff also questioned why CIT did not seek to have the works done by students or graduates of its constituent Crawford College of Art and Design.

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