The president and deputy president of the University of Limerick have announced the creation of a “strategic governance committee” to deal with “outstanding issues” at the institution.
Earlier on Thursday, multiple sources within UL suggested that the deputy president and provost of the University Professor Shane Kilcommins had vacated his posts in the wake of the college’s appearance at the Public Accounts Committee last week.
However, following an emergency meeting this afternoon, the university's president Kerstin Mey and Prof Kilcommins wrote to the institution’s staff as “a fully united executive committee” to confirm that the provost “remains in his post”.
In their statement, Prof Mey and Prof Kilcommins acknowledged the “considerable disquiet” within the university on the back of the PAC appearance, adding that the matter “has been further compounded by recent media coverage”.
They said they would be “establishing an executive strategic governance committee”, under their joint leadership, to deal with the outstanding governance issues at the university.
“Executive portfolios will be realigned as necessary to continue to enhance decision making and governance,” the joint statement said.
“We ask for your support as we work to realise the ambitions for this wonderful university to which we are all committed,” they added.
Both the president and provost had been present at the PAC hearing last Thursday, which saw officials queried at length regarding governance issues at the university.
It emerged at that hearing, which saw Professor Mey in particular come in for robust questioning about transparency at the university, that members of the governing authority have not seen a KPMG report reviewing the €8.3m purchase of a site in Limerick city by UL in 2019, a sale which proceeded with no formal valuation having been commissioned.
The committee heard that the KPMG report has, to date, only been seen by six people, one of whom has since died, with the report withheld on foot of an ongoing legal case at the High Court taken by UL’s former chief operating officer Gerry O’Brien regarding its findings.
It is understood that high-level discussions within the university had been taking place in recent days regarding UL’s performance at PAC.
On Wednesday, Prof Mey emailed all staff at UL and admitted that some of the criticism of her appearance had been “completely fair”. On one occasion at the hearing she was asked a question 23 times as to the media training she had received, before finally providing an answer.
In her message this week, Prof Mey said that “although there were questions here that I genuinely was precluded from answering, media training was not one of them”.