External academics probe plagiarism claim against college chair

Three external academics have been chosen to investigate allegations of plagiarism against IT Tralee chairman Flan Garvey.

The former Fianna Fáil county councillor for Clare has said he intends to defend his position following the claims made to college authorities by 26 academics in November in relation to his 2008 master of arts research dissertation at the college. He has stepped back from his duties as governing body chair while the investigation is ongoing.

The investigation panel appointed by IT Tralee’s examination and assessments review committee was named in an email from college president Oliver Murphy to academic staff.

The email did not name Mr Garvey but referred only to the investigation into an allegation against a graduate. It said the report will be given to Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), the statutory body that oversees quality assurance in higher education, and which advised IT Tralee on the procedures.

The panel members are: Professor Eda Sagarra, emeritus professor of Germanic studies at Trinity College Dublin; Dr Tom Duff, former registrar of Dublin Institute of Technology; and Prof Diarmuid Ó Giolláin, Irish language and literature professor at University of Notre Dame in the US, and formerly of University College Cork.

IT Tralee staff were also told by the governing body that leaking details of the case has damaged the college’s reputation.

“The persons or persons who leaked information to the media ignored the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty and the principles of fair play,” said a statement sent to all staff.

In a letter to IT Tralee registrar Michael Hall in November, academics who made the claims about Mr Garvey’s project on the history of his local parish had said QQI should investigate to avoid any conflict of interest. But QQI has said the college’s procedures deal with such issues.

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