IT Tralee chair under pressure to quit

There is growing pressure on Flan Garvey, chairman of the Institute of Technology Tralee, after lecturers voted through their union that it is not in the college’s best interest for him to continue in the role.

IT Tralee chair under pressure to quit

The motion was passed by the college’s branch of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland on Thursday evening, the same day that Ruairi Quinn, the education minister, indicated Mr Garvey might soon have to review his position after the full facts are made public.

He had been asked whether there were questions about governance at the college following Mr Garvey’s successful appeal against a plagiarism probe. It has also been revealed that he had high expense claims.

The ex-mayor of Clare and former Fianna Fáil councillor had asked the deputy chair to carry out his functions in December, while the investigation took place. He has said his good name was restored by last week’s appeal outcome.

The motion states: “Given the finding of plagiarism in his MA thesis by an external panel of academics against Mr Flan Garvey, chairman of the governing body of IT Tralee, and in light of the findings that he was not aware of institute regulations, this branch resolves that it is inappropriate and not in the best interests of the institute for Mr Garvey to continue as the chairman of its governing body.”

Mr Garvey told the Irish Examiner he never left the role and would be going back very shortly as chair of the governing body.

“Any expenses I ever got, I was entitled to them, and I live 98 miles (157km) from the college,” he said.

On Thursday, Mr Quinn said he is asking the Higher Education Authority to review expenses regimes in all 14 institutes of technology.

Mr Garvey was paid over €125,000 in expenses between 2005 and 2011 — almost €18,000 a year. This is €14,000 more than the next-highest governing body member, who is also from Clare, but most others were paid less than €1,000 each a year in that period.

An unpublished external investigation in February found Mr Garvey had unintentionally plagiarised other sources in two chapters of a 2008 masters degree thesis at ITT, and did not fully inform himself of rules on postgraduate research.

Union to defend staff

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland said it would defend any member who the college tries to discipline over leaks about the plagiarism case involving its governing body chair.

The complaint to the college that sparked the plagiarism investigation over Flan Garvey’s thesis was made by 26 academics at ITT in November.

After details emerged in this and other newspapers, college president Oliver Murphy told ITT’s academic council an investigation would take place into leaks about the matter.

TUI assistant general secretary Aidan Kenny said the union members were academics and it was not a personal issue. “If the college invokes any type of disciplin-ary procedures against our members who exercised their academic freedom as per the law, TUI will completely defend them.”

The college said in a statement last week that it reported the original complaint to Quality and Qualifications Ireland the day after it was received.

Academic staff withdrew the two representatives they are entitled to from the governing body in 2009 in a row about procedural issues.

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