CIT’s €22k portraits of president and chairman ‘done in Ireland’ not Italy

The artist who painted portraits of the president of Cork Institute of Technology and chair of its governing board has contradicted a whistleblower’s claims that the two men had travelled abroad to sit for the paintings at the college’s expense.

CIT’s €22k portraits of president and chairman ‘done in Ireland’ not Italy

Mick O’Dea said CIT president Brendan Murphy and a former chairman of the governing body, Dr Paddy Caffrey, sat for the portraits in his Dublin studio, not in Italy as had been claimed.

The artist’s comments came following an investigation into an extensive report compiled by the whistleblower which was sent to the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee.

While an audit by KPMG ruled out the majority of the whistleblower’s allegations, the auditors did find that CIT broke its own procurement policy when it spent €22,214 on the two portraits.

The paintings were commissioned in 2007 and created by Mr O’Dea, who was paid €20,000 for his work. CIT spent a further €2,214 framing the portraits.

CIT’s procurement policy states those commissioning the portraits should have sought at least five different quotations for the works given the cost involved. KPMG did not note any internal budgetary review regarding the commission of the paintings.

The auditors also did not find any evidence to substantiate the whistleblower’s claims that Dr Murphy and Dr Caffrey had travelled and stayed in Italy, to sit for the paintings, at CIT’s expense.

Mr O’Dea backed the college’s assertion that the sittings took place in Dublin. “I did not meet any of the men in question abroad, though I have been commissioned to paint portraits abroad,” he told the Irish Examiner.

“Both Brendan Murphy and Paddy Caffrey came to my studio in Dublin’s Mountjoy Square, in the north inner city. That’s where they were painted.

“It’s where I painted Brian Friel for the National Gallery and the former president and chancellor of DCU, among others.

“I was honoured to have been commissioned by CIT to paint the portraits.

“I hope that CIT will continue to commission and support Irish artists and craftspeople; the arts in particular have been badly hit over the past eight years,” Mr O’Dea said.

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