ITT chair in spotlight over hefty expenses

The chair of Institute of Technology Tralee’s governing body may soon have to review his position after being embroiled in controversy over high expenses payments and a plagiarism investigation, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has indicated.

ITT chair in spotlight over hefty expenses

The minister is to ask the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to probe expenses across the 14 institutes of technology, after it has emerged that Flan Garvey was paid more than €125,000 in expenses by the college from 2005 to 2011, far higher than any other board member.

Mr Garvey last week said he welcomed his vindication after a successful appeal against a finding that his degree awarded for a research masters at IT Tralee (ITT) was unjustified because of plagiarism.

Mr Quinn was asked at Cork Institute of Technology, which plans to apply jointly with ITT to become a technological university, whether the issues relating to Mr Garvey raise concerns about governance at the Tralee college. He said one of his advisers has received a report on the outcome of the plagiarism appeal and it is a matter for due process.

“I think there are standards in the world of academia that have to be adhered to, just like there are standards elsewhere. And when the full facts and when the full details become available in public, and they haven’t yet become fully available in public . . . I think then everybody will have to review what their position is,” he said.

Mr Garvey is a retired primary teacher and former Fianna Fáil councillor and ex-mayor of Clare, where his local parish was the subject of his masters thesis. He has been chair of ITT’s governing body since 2001, and may travel longer distances than other members for meetings or interviews.

His average expenses of almost €18,000 in the seven years to 2011 were multiples of those paid to any other governing body member. The next highest recipient was Peter Considine, who represents Co Clare Vocational Education Committee on the board and received more than €24,800 (an average €3,500) in the same period.

Only five of the 21 others to serve on the body from 2005 to 2011 received more than €1,000 in average annual expenses, with the rest receiving between €59 and €767 a year on average.

A final decision on Mr Garvey’s Masters in Arts degree must be made by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, the successor body to the Higher Education and Training Awards Council.

Paid out

IT Tralee expenses paid to Flan Garvey:

2005: €12,532.46

2006: €20,920.50

2007: €17,765.61

2008: €21,642.79

2009: €11,510.22

2010: €21,086.82

2011: €20,285.51

Total: €125,743.91

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