The Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is demanding answers from NUI Maynooth over the decision to write-off a €750,000 loan to a failed subsidiary company.
The PAC has been exploring the use of such commercial companies by universities and other third-level institutions and at its meeting today members heard that NUI Maynooth has made provision for the loan not to be paid back.
Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy confirmed to committee members that the college has detailed the loss in its annual accounts.
Mr McCarthy said NUI Maynooth's financial statements recognised a loan will not be paid back by the subsidiary.
The impairment of the loan related to a loss-making subsidiary set up to deal with intellectual property, the committee heard.
“The business has not turned out as they thought it would and they prudently they are making provision in their accounts,” he said.
However, committee members raised concerns about the scale of the write-off.
Chairman Sean Fleming raised a concern about how will the €750,000 be funded and whether or not it will result in a negative impact on student services.
“We will write to NUI Maynooth for a full note seeking the full background as to why the loan was given and what likely impact it will have on services,” Mr Fleming said.
Independent TD Catherine Connolly said while it may have been prudent for the college to note the write-off in its accounts, she asked was it prudent for the loan to be given in the first place.
“Was it prudent? This raises questions about these sort of companies which have been raised before,” she said.
“Here we go again,” responded Mr Fleming.
Despite the concerns expressed by PAC members, NUI Maynooth's accounts were given a clear audit by the C&AG.
The committee was also told by the Department of Employment and Social Protection that an investigation into a protected disclosure did identify governance, purchasing control and attendance issues at St Munchins Comunity Centre in Limerick.
The department's Secretary General, John McKeon, told the committee that the department has concluded its examination of the issues raised.
“A number of minor areas for improvement were identified in relation to governance, purchasing control and attendance records which were accepted by the management of St Munchins. The Department has liaised and met with the JI scheme in respect of these issues. The matter is now closed regarding the submission made,” Mr McKeon said.
Although the department considers that the risks are being managed, Mr McKeon said it will continue to monitor the scheme to ensure that all commitments given are implemented.