€201k salary for Trinity College head breaches approved limit

The head of Ireland’s oldest university, Trinity College Dublin, has been overpaid since 2011 as his salary is “in breach” of what was approved by the Department of Education.
€201k salary for Trinity College head breaches approved limit
The main entrance to Trinity College Dublin. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

The head of Ireland’s oldest university, Trinity College Dublin, has been overpaid since 2011 as his salary is “in breach” of what was approved by the Department of Education.

Paddy Prendergast is paid €201,000 a year, but an external audit report, seen by the Irish Examiner, concludes that benefit-in-kind relating to his use of the provost’s lodge on campus exceeded the approved rate.

The issue has come to light in recent weeks and has caused considerable concern among fellows and senior college management who have asked why it has taken nine years to emerge.

The findings in relation to the provost were among a number of matters found by the auditors which “may expose the organisation to significant financial and reputational risks”.

Mr Prendergast was elected to the post of provost in 2011.

The audit report is damning in concluding the salary package currently paid to Mr Prendergast is in breach of the rules.

“It has been confirmed that the college does not have approval for the payment of benefits-in-kind. Consequently, the total remuneration exceeds the 2011 approval implication.

“The college is in breach of the approval provided by the Department of Education and Skills in relation to the Provost’s salary,” the audit document states.

The report details how the college sought a “derogation” from the department to account for the fact he lives on campus, but this was not given.

The report states that approval was provided by the Department of Education and Skills for the salary of the provost in 2011.

For the 2019 audit, it has been confirmed that the college does not have approval for the payment of benefits-in-kind.

While TCD management said it noted the position of the department, it stated the monetary amount involved is “immaterial” and the provost pays tax on the benefits-in-kind demand.

In a statement, TCD said: “This is a technical issue relating to benefit-in-kind. The provost is required to live on campus as part of his contract and it has been agreed that utility bills relating to this are treated as a benefit-in-kind.

"Like many other employees, the provost pays tax on this benefit-in-kind making the total remuneration appear to be higher. The provost is, however, paid the standard salary.”

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