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Wrixon: + 8 Million Euro --- UCC - 60 Million Euro

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | news report author Monday September 18, 2006 17:57author by Miriam Cotton Report this post to the editors

Gerry Wrixon may be down but he ain't out yet

As I write this article I know from the outset that UCC and their legal attack dogs – possibly McCann Fitzgerald, who have carved out a lucrative career from pursuing UCC’s legal hounding of employees and staff - will almost certainly be coming after me. I should declare an interest immediately. A close member of my family attempted a so far unsuccessful challenge to UCC as a consequence of a refusal to cooperate with what he believes were inappropriate and possibly corrupt practices within the Department of Applied Social Studies at UCC. That issue is not the subject of this article.

Professor Gerry Wrixon has presided over one of the most acrimonious and difficult periods of UCC’s history. Allegations of financial and other impropriety at the university have dogged him, not least of which are those referred to in an article in the Irish Examiner last week. Do take the trouble to go to the link and read it before carrying on:

But the Examiner report is only the half of it.

A former employee of UCC, Dr Stuart Neilson, who worked in the Department of Epidemiology, has been threatened with legal action unless he takes down a website giving an account of his struggles against bullying and unfair employment practice at UCC. Dr Neilson will not have been surprised to receive this latest threat from UCC given the following remark made to Dr Neilson by Professor Ivan J Perry, Head of Department, on the 11th October 2002:

"If you feel the need to refer to your legal rights then you obviously have no place in a department like this and I will not be renewing your contract - it will be better for all of us if you leave."
Professor Ivan J. Perry, Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College Cork, 11th October 2002.

Here is the text of the letter sent to Dr Neilson by UCC’s legal adviser the week before last:


31st August 2006.

Dear Dr. Neilson,

Re: Your Allegations against Professor Ivan Perry.

It has come to my attention that you are publicly alleging on one or more websites that you have been "bullied and harassed by Professor Ivan Perry whist employed at University College Cork" (in your words). This matter was investigated in 2003 accumulating in a letter to you by the President confirming that a report had been completed under the University's procedures and that no further actions was required beyond those recommended by the investigators into your allegations.

It is of course a matter for you to determine at the time how you wish to pursue matters, but as far as the University is concerned, the University procedures have been gone through and a report issued to you. As a consequence, for you to make accusations in a public manner concerning one of the University's Professors and by implication the procedures adopted by the University, is unacceptable.

May I ask you to immediately cease making public statements of this nature, remove all such allegations from your website (and any other site in which you are involved) and confirm by return that you have done so.

Should you not have responded positively within seven days of this letter, then you leave the University with little option but to pass the matter to our external lawyers to pursue further. I hope that this will not be necessary.

Robin Graham
Secretary / Chief Legal Officer”

Dr Neilson’s website can be read here: but he has been compelled to remove some of the text of his complaint as a precaution against the threat contained in the letter above.

Ireland Online

Of further interest to web users is the response of IOL to pressure from UCC to take Dr Neilson’s site down. Earlier this year UCC became aware of the site. On 1 June, IOL removed the documents from the site under the IOL / BT Ireland Acceptable Use Policy ("causing annoyance") and advised Dr Neilson that he could link to another host so long as the “annoyance” was not on their server. IOL contacted Dr Neilson on 20 June to say even linking was an “annoyance”, listened to his argument that all the material was elsewhere than IoL's server and took no action. On 6 September he received the legal threat to remove the site. Dr Neilson accepts that IOL have done their best to accommodate the conflicting interests fairly but the point that ought to be of concern, surely, is UCC’s attempt to silence him from mentioning even the fact of having complained. Is this not bullying in itself, leaving aside completely the substance of Dr Neilson’s complaint and the outcome of his pending legal challenge to UCC?

”As I read the threat, I am warned not to mention even that I made a complaint of bullying as it "by implication" is some form of accusation against the University.”

That is an interpretation of his rights as defined on this website:

Here is a summary of Dr Neilson’s concerns in his own words:

1) I complained describing behaviours which are indisputably bullying by UCC's own policy definition;
2) UCC did not fully investigate or act on that complaint;
3) UCC has no right of appeal and the finding is not open to question;
4) UCC converted my post to permanency without informing me;
5) I was prevented from returning to work by HR despite being certified fit;
6) I lost my (now permanent) job because I complained;
7) The University is threatening to sue me for publicising this sequence of events.


Litigation Litigation Litigation

Anyone reading the newspapers over the last few years will hardly fail to have noticed that University College Cork has a questionable track record when it comes to employee relations. Below are listed over 30 recent and current legal cases involving UCC, obtained by a search of the public Legal Diary at, and this list includes only cases scheduled for court dates. There are outstanding writs served against UCC with no scheduled date (such as Dr Neilson’s). There are cases that have been conceded by UCC without defence that have resulted in confidential settlements.


Fanning v. University College Cork [2005] IEHC 264 (24 June 2005)
National University of Ireland Cork -v- Ahern & Ors [2005] IESC 40 (10 June
Fanning v. University College Cork [2003] IEHC 70 (22 October 2003)
X and University College Cork [2003] IEIC 7 (4 March 2003)
Barlow v. Fanning [2002] IESC 53 (02 July 2002)
Fanning v. University College Cork [2002] IEHC 85 (25 July 2002)
Sweeney v. National University of Ireland Cork t/a Cork University Press
[2000] IEHC 70; [2001] 2 IR 6; [2001] 1 ILRM 310 (9th October, 2000)
Howard v. University College Cork [2000] IEHC 138 (25th July, 2000)
Fanning v. University College Cork [1999] IEHC 236 (7th July, 1999)


Bannon -V- University College Cork
Bannon -V- University College Cork (Supreme Court)
Barlow, Kenneally and O'Suilleabhain -V- University College Cork and Fanning
Corcoran -V- University College Cork
Fanning -V- University College Cork (231)
Fanning -V- University College Cork (260)
Fanning -V- University College Cork (2003)
Fanning -V- University College Cork (3114)
Fanning -V- University College Cork (5115)
Fanning -V- University College Cork (12971)
Fanning -V- University College Cork (15653)
Fanning -V- University College Cork (Supreme Court)
Fernando -V- National University of Ireland Cork
Hayes -V- University College Cork
Howard -V- University College Cork
Linehan -V- University College Cork & Ors
McCarthy -V- University College Cork
McDermott -V- University College Cork
NUI Cork -v- Ahern & Ors
NUI Cork -v- Ahern & Ors (Supreme Court)
O'Brien -V- University College Cork
O'Hanrahan -V- NUI Cork
O' Higgins -V- University College Cork
O' Higgins -V- University College Cork (Supreme Court)
O'Mahony -V- University College Cork
O'Neill -V- University College Cork
Schewe -V- University College Cork
Sweeney -V- National University of Ireland Cork t/a Cork University Pre
University College Cork -V- Commissioner of Valuations
University College Cork -V- Cross Refrigeration Ltd
University College Cork -V- Revenue Commissioners
University College Cork -V- Revenue Commissioners (Supreme Court)

"I am no stranger to the inside of a courtroom." boasted Mr Noel Keeley, thankfully now a former Vice President for Human Resources at UCC, on the 19th March 2003, and clearly untroubled by all this implied about his success in his job.


Professor Fanning was the subject of various complaints by 20 staff in the Economics Department and has been involved in numerous High Court and Supreme Court cases since 1999. Additional investigation and mediation has involved both the Anti-Bullying Centre, Trinity College and John Horgan, a
former Chairman of the Labour Court. Staff who came into conflict with Professor Fanning have variously been on extended sick leave, been transferred to other departments, been accommodated in specially designated research centres geographically separate from Professor Fanning, or accepted sizeable financial settlements. Total liabilities are approximately 6 million euro.

Ahern & Others are 43 security staff represented by SIPTU in an equal-pay claim that was supported by the Rights Commissioner. UCC unsuccessfully appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court, then to the High Court, then to the Supreme Court, losing on every occasion. The case has been
returned to the Labour Court (June 2005). Pay arrears are approximately 1.5 million euro and legal costs are of a similar magnitude.

Professor Howard was the subject of allegations of bullying by 6 staff in the German Department. She is, in effect, suspended from all duties in an arrangement where she suffers no financial loss. The cost to UCC in additional salary and pension rights is approximately 1 million euro.

Dr Schewe was one of 6 complainants against Professor Howard. UCC insisted that this would not affect Professor Howard's judgment on a panel assessing Dr Schewe's suitability for promotion. Dr Schewe applied for and received an injunction removing Professor Howard from the panel.

Professor Hyland was accused of bullying while Head of the Education Department. UCC initially refused to address the complaint, but settled in confidence following an Equality Tribunal hearing. Professor Hyland is effectively suspended from duties in her department and has been promoted to Vice President. Failure to appoint a replacement Head of Department has been expensive and caused resentment.

Professor Moran, the previous President of UCC, was threatened with a libel action for disclosing the date on which a development contract with Owen O'Callaghan was signed - the action was dropped. Other university officers and auditors have been similarly drawn into legal threats (according to The Phoenix).

All of this expensive legal activity eventually came to the notice of the Public Accounts Committee who questioned Professor Wrixon about it. Here is a transcript of parts of that exchange with commentary beneath each of the issues referred to:

1. Disputes cost far in excess of 125,000 euro per year

Professor Wrixon: I looked at our legal costs for the last four years. Some are reimbursed under public liability insurance policies. For those four years the average legal costs have been ?250,000 per year,half of which has to do with capital projects and purchasing land.

Deputy Curran: Is ?250,000 the amount after reimbursement?

Professor Wrixon: Yes. Ongoing legal costs averaged ?125,000 over the last four years. For an organisation of 2,500 people, that is reasonable.

The figure of 125,000 euro per annum provided by Professor Wrixon is at variance with the facts. The liability in relation to three highly public cases alone (Fanning, Howard, Ahern & Others) exceeds 10 million euro, as itemised below. Failure to deal with staff grievances is a major contributor to UCC's budget deficit. The true cost to UCC of disputes should include the cost of routine legal advice, the cost of litigation, the value of settlements and the salaries of staff on suspension and sick leave. President Wrixon's response appears to include only the first of these.

2. There is not one, but many legal disputes at UCC

Deputy Burton: Note 27 on page 22 on contingent liabilities relates to various legal proceedings. How many cases have crystallised and been settled? How much did the settlements cost? This would relate to the situation in September 2002.

Professor Wrixon: We have one major ongoing legal case which has been covered by our insurance policy. Therefore, there is no related contingency. It is being appealed to the Supreme Court.

3. A university cannot operate uninsured

Deputy Burton: What amount is involved? If there were significantly high numbers of such cases, would they affect subsequent attempts to take out insurance for legal cases?

Professor Wrixon: Insurance cover is no longer available to us.

Deputy Burton: Why has such cover been refused? Was it because the level of claims against the university was deemed to be high?

Professor Wrixon: Yes.

Irish Public Bodies Mutual Insurances Ltd has presumably taken the view that liabilities incurred by UCC are unacceptably high, and presumably greatly exceed 125,000 per year. I do not know if there is a customer confidentiality issue involved, but they presumably have quantified UCC's outstanding liabilities. It is clearly of urgent public interest to regularize UCC's lack of insurance before this disaster becomes

4. UCC loses cases, defended against professional advice

Deputy Burton: Has the court so far upheld the university's point? I presume the parties are members of staff.

Professor Wrixon: In the original High Court action the university's case was upheld but that decision was reversed on appeal to the Supreme Court. The case was sent back for retrial. In the second High Court hearing the plaintiff's case was upheld and the university is appealing the decision
to the Supreme Court.

In NUI Cork -V- Ahern it was UCC's choice to appeal a Rights Commissioner reccomendation and then to appeal a High Court Judgment to the Supreme Court. A member of the governing body has stated that in one instance UCC received 5 successive barristers' briefs advising against court action and
nevertheless proceeded. The President did so against the advice of his own officers and the governing body.

5. UCC has a highly confrontational, litigious attitude to disputes

Professor Wrixon: As we are talking about future litigation, I have no way of predicting what the cases will be. Ideally, none of these matters should ever reach the courts. We have put in place many procedures and mechanisms for settling disputes without recourse to legal means. That, however,
remains the right of any citizen. The university did not bring any of these cases but we are aware of the Deputy's point and I hope our procedures will minimise or eliminate the numbers going to court.

The following is the text of a letter written by Dr Neilson to the Public Accounts Committee about the cost of UCC’s litigation:

"UCC Accounts, Committee of Public Accounts 1 December 2005

Dear John Curran,

I wish to take issue with a number of President Wrixon's misleading statements to the Committee of Public Accounts on 1st December 2005. Contrary to his evidence, UCC has many outstanding legal cases and not just "one major ongoing legal case". It is patently false that "the university did not bring any of these cases", as noted below. President Wrixon should be challenged to produce an accurate and comprehensive valuation of the costs of disputes at UCC.

His evidence to the committee trivialises the magnitude of complaints at UCC and falsely characterises all complainants as "dissenters" from a "distant past .... quiet ivy grove". I for one have published three books, have many papers in leading international medical journals, have undertaken commercial
consultancy and receive royalty income - I have not been adversely affected by recent changes at UCC and barely know the President himself. My complaint is purely of unacceptable management practices in my former department.

I have repeatedly asked for and been refused information about the extent and cost of bullying / harassment at UCC, where it is a significant problem. Without reference to individual cases and without compromising confidentiality, UCC should reasonably be able to provide:

The number of complaints and their outcomes
The number of writs, tribunal hearings and court cases
The number of staff suspended from teaching or other duties following
The cost of staff suspension
The cost of sick leave
The cost of legal fees, litigation and settlements

If these figures indicate a significant problem of bullying / harassment at UCC, the Minister for Education is empowered to appoint a Visitor to oversee an investigation of UCC's administration and complaint handling. The Visitor provides an alternative route for the resolution of outstanding complaints
without recourse to litigation and without consequent adverse publicity.

My personal interest in this issue is that UCC refused to address my complaint of being bullied / harassed by my Head of Department; President Wrixon wrote to inform me there was no appeal to this decision; Vice President for Human Resources Noel Keeley invited me to sue UCC and boasted
that he was "no stranger to the inside of a courtroom"; I was not permitted to return to work unless I conceded the complaint was unfounded; and my employment was then terminated. I have been advised that there is no doubt that my complaint is well-founded and that UCC's liability would be
substantial if my case were to succeed.

With best wishes"


Management Style

Gerrard Wrixon is shortly due to retire. He should have done so a year ago at the age of 65 like all public servants but his tenure was exceptionally extended thereby setting a potentially costly precedent for anyone who might equally feel that they were too important to their employer to retire at the statutory retirement age. As anyone following the links below will see, Professor Wrixon’s confrontational personality has determined the ethos of the college throughout his extended tenure there, which charge was notably brought to his attention during an interview with Charlie Bird on RTE in (2005). Wrixon usually responds to the charge that he is a bully by saying that it is only the begrudgers, old-fashioned types and people who can’t cope with innovation who have a problem with his style. This allegation has annoyed the socks off those who know otherwise and it does nothing in any case to address the substantive points that his critics make, with some justification.

Professor Wrixon also points to his own achievements and the vast sums of research money that he has procured from the corporate sector for tied projects and building works on and off the campus. But those sums have nothing to do with the day to day running of the university which is in a parlous state in the view of many of UCC’s academics. The deficit at UCC is greater than the whole of the combined deficit of the other universities.

Further commentary on Professor Wrixon’s style of management can be found here:

His official biography is here:

Here also are some links to press items concerning Professor Wrixon’s management of the university which refer to financial and other issues such as the retention of depleted uranium rods at the university, a gift to UCC from the Reagan administration.

And here are some links to reports of Wrixon’s ‘windfall’ from the sale of Farran Technology:


Employee Realtions

With regard to employee relations, UCC have put in place an investigative and appeals process which in the opinion of an independent assessor was seriously inadequate in dealing with Dr Neilson’s complaint. It says:

"I do not believe, on what is before me, as a report on [this] complaint outcome by Gerard Wrixon that any court will consider that the complaint was investigated in accordance with the Universities own policy or at all properly or thoroughly"


"this report is a whitewash of the facts"

(An Employer and A Worker, Time Limit, Case EET995 issued on 03/08/99
(REE/99/3)) ----->

Here are details about another, unsuccessful, complaint in relation to the Department of Education

Commissioner's Decision Wt 527/99, Case DWT0147 issued on 30/11/2001

Neither report refers to Professor Hyland by name – and the ‘An Employer and A Worker’ on the face of the record is strikingly reticent about the parties to litigation. I wonder why.

Certainly some of the employees who have experience of Professor Hyland in her investigative role have found her dismissive of their concerns. They feel that she showed little understanding of issues such as fairness and due process. For example, taking at face value the protestations and explanations of alleged bullies without adequately attempting to verify the truth of what they were saying – even when concrete evidence would have been readily available to her in support of the complainants case. Or declining to take evidence from witnesses who would concur with the complainant’s allegations.

Here is an example of how Hyland draws conclusions in favour of UCC even where her own report would appear to contradict her findings:

"He also apologised for any upset he (Professor Perry) might have caused to Dr. Neilson, stating 'it was never my intention to undermine you in any way. I take great care not to cause offence to my colleagues. It is obvious I have failed in this instance and I apologise' .. In conclusion, the investigators do not uphold the complaint by Dr. Stuart Neilson under the University's Duty of Respect and Right to Dignity Policy." Professor Áine Hyland, Vice-President and Chair of the Equality of Opportunity Committee, University College Cork, 19th May 2003.

And to top all that, UCC rule out any possibility of an appeal against Professor Hyland’s decisions, themselves always, wouldn’t you know, taken wholly at face value by Professor Wrixon:

"Having considered the content of the report, I am of the view that no further action is required" and "there is no right of appeal in respect of the outcome of an investigation into a complaint of bullying or harassment."
Gerard T. Wrixon, President of University College Cork, 22nd May and 25th August 2003.

Contrast and compare Wrixon’s conclusion with the following:

‘"It is also obvious that the alleged bully was willing to allow the complainant to believe he was dismissed, when that was not the case, and to further write him a letter of farewell, knowing that his leaving was under the false impression that he was dismissed. There is - therefore - evidence
of the above and of mismanagement and questionable judgement, which explains perhaps why the complainant felt so aggrieved as to make his formal complaint."
Health and Safety Authority report on University College Cork, 27th January 2004

But UCC have also had run-ins with the Anti Bullying Unit section of the Health & Safety Authority. UCC had to be compelled by the ABU to release the details of Dr Neilson’s case in 2004 when UCC refused to comply with the law and tried to prevent them from seeing the files. On one occasion the ABU representative who had travelled from Dublin having notified UCC that she was coming to inspect the files, was refused access. UCC complained, via McCann Fitzgeral solicitors, about her conduct. She noted:

"The letter from McCann Fitzgerald was the third reaction from UCC to my request for access. My first request was in person and was refused -1 visited Cork on 19 Sept 2003 and Mr Paul Ryan said he couldn't give me access to the file. My second request was by phone to Mr Noel Keely on 22nd Sept 2003 and was refused, as he requested a written response outlining the legal reason for that request. I consulted the MOP'S document and sent a very comprehensive letter to UCC outlining our legal remit and options and requested compliance. After using these three different approaches to UCD, when they once again failed to give access and sent a letter from ## [ deleted ] ##".

Dr Neilson found out that UCC had falsely claimed to her that they had found bullying in previous investigations. See this High Court judgment: Fanning vs UCC June 2005

UCC does not recognize bullying / harassment and has never upheld an internal complaint. UCC falsely claimed (to the HSA) that a complaint of bullying / harassment had been upheld and this claim is the subject of legal action. There is no right of appeal to internal complaints, which must therefore proceed to litigation.

UCC was served with an Improvement Notice by the Health and Safety Authority (IN DJ53907) on 28th November 2003 in relation to failures in its internal complaints procedures.

In all of this, there is of course the personal cost to so many people of careers interrupted or lost and the impact on their families and colleagues. In an institution where no complaint of bullying is ever upheld the effect on staff is to intimidate and to depress. And beyond that, the impact on students and the provision of third level education is incalculable. This is not about how much research money or how many buildings university leaders may have procured from the corporate sector or what benefits those donors may derive from their investment. It is about managing a significant national resource to the optimum benefit of its users. Can Professor Wrixon seriously claim that he has managed to do that?

author by Miriampublication date Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One senior UCC academic says:

"I don't know what to say about matters in general. I think there is a widespread feeling that battles were fought and lost, people's characters and sometimes careers were destroyed, and a toxic environment remains but at the of the day these triumphalist bastards couldn't give a damn and are prepared to spend as much (taxpayers') money as necessary to get their way, force their agenda through and see off all challengers in the coursts with the most expensive lawyere they can buy. [XXXX] has thrown the book at them, with documents and proofs, and they continue blandly to lie about the issues and about him. I know in my own case the damage has been considerable - I am sure you feel the same. "

author by Scepticpublication date Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Seems really like a critical question - was this Dr Neilson actually bullied? Any experts out there confirmed it or willing to confirm it? If so, then sure UCC has behaved abominably. But if he wasn't then it is just a natural response to try and shut up his whining.

Related Link:
author by Miriampublication date Tue Sep 19, 2006 18:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I wonder if you can have read all the information in the article? Stuart Neilson has had his allegations of bullying indepently confirmed and legal advice to the effect that his case is a very good one. Among the many aspects of life at UCC under Wrixon's presidency discussed above is their aggressive and defensive response to anyone who has been bullied or objects to wrongdoing. There appears to be a blanket policy that no such claims will ever be upheld and in fact none have been - despite widespread experiences of bullying. UCC are so conscious of this clear evidence of their failure to deal with bullying that they have even falsely claimed to have upheld complaints of bullying.

Neilson is not 'whining'. He is asserting his right to be treated reasonably by his employer. His experiences within the Department of Epidemiology were so serious as to cause him to be seriously ill.

author by An interested observerpublication date Fri Sep 22, 2006 10:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is truly a disturbing story. To the sceptic earlier, I would ask what other independent verification he/she would require. Dr Neilson's case was independently verified; the only organisation who did not accept that some serious bullying had taken place were, predictably UCC. Employers in general hardly ever accept complaints of bullying, however much they are supported by evidence and will do their best to sweep them under the carpet. UCC seems to have done this especially vindictively in this case.

I believe Dr Neilson's case is not an isolated one - UCC have a reputation of being one of the worst academic employers in the country.

In more general terms, how does one address workplace bullying as the victim? Do you stand up for yourself and attract offensive comments such as 'you are whining' (sceptic's response) or do you simply dissolve into the shadows and let the bullies continue? What do you do if your employer treats you as the enemy? Do you risk all your life savings and then some more in a long winded court process against an organisation with far deeper pockets than yours?

I would love to know the answer to these - I know people who have been bullied and have been destroyed by the experience.

Do you ever remember witnessing playground bullying as a child? When you watched another kid being puched around and felt a bit bad about it but did not stop it? Did you even feel a bit of a desire to belong in that group doing the bullying because they were clearly the strong ones and you wanted to be in their circle, even though what they were doing was wrong?

I feel that society often takes this role; we see bullying taking place in the adult workplace and we know it is unacceptable, unprofessional and wrong. So what do we do? We start by telling the victim that they may have misunderstood, that this is an enthusiastic management style, that it is their fault somehow they are being targetted. So we watch and take our discomfort out on the victim, but we don't have the guts to tell the perpetrator that they are acting out of order or, heaven forbid, take any steps to stop them. We don't want to attract attention and be in the vistim's shoes. We are all children, watching the playground bully and not intervening.

Watch out sceptic - there are some dangerous psychopaths in the workplace, with huge issues of their own. One day, one of them may pick on you.

author by Unbelievablepublication date Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I looked at the Public Accounts Committee debate on UCC's financial statements referred to above and on page 3 it says:

Deputy Burton: What amount is involved? If there were significantly high numbers of such cases, would they affect subsequent attempts to take out insurance for legal cases?
Professor Wrixon: Insurance cover is no longer available to us.
Deputy Burton: Why has such cover been refused? Was it because the level of claims against the university was deemed to be high?
Professor Wrixon: Yes.

So does this actually mean that University College Cork, which has hundreds of staff, hundreds of visitors and thousands of students on its premises every day has no insurance? Will every trip, fall and accidental breakage now be deducted from the teaching or photocopying budget? If it isn't actually illegal for a public institution to operate uninsured then President Wrixon seems to have made an admission of criminal stupidity.

author by Miriampublication date Mon Sep 25, 2006 12:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The debate carries on at the FUCC discussion forum:

author by richiepublication date Mon Sep 25, 2006 17:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No, UCC has no legal insurance (i.e for the costs of court cases). It does have a full and comprehensive policy for everything else.

author by Miriampublication date Mon Sep 25, 2006 18:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I REFER to the article in the Irish Examiner of September 15 under the heading Professor calls for inquiry into UCC affairs.

Prof Desmond Clarke is a scholar of international repute whose daily professional work involves assessing information, gathering facts and making judgements.

He is a person of the highest integrity and ethical standards. When he makes the statements as reported, they should be taken very seriously.

Prof Clarke is a representative of the college professors on the governing body.

A poll-topper at the last election, he reports regularly on governing body matters to his constituents and much of what was contained in the article should have come as no great surprise.

It is somewhat disingenuous of the anonymous UCC spokesperson to ask Prof Clarke to provide full details to the authorities as all the files are held in UCC and are readily available to the authorities.

University legislation provides a means of dealing with the situation now prevailing through the appointment of a ‘visitor’ by the Minister for Education. A visitor, an independent person of standing such as a High Court judge, could investigate the allegations and deliver a judgement.

UCC deserves to have this unhappy episode clarified quickly and resolved once and for all.

Michael P Mortell
President Emeritus
University College Cork

author by Miriampublication date Mon Sep 25, 2006 19:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mortell libel threat and Revenue probe of UCC over Public Accounts Committee hearing

"Irish Independent
Tuesday 13 July 2004
UCC forced to back down in row over ?30m capital deficit
John Walshe, Education Editor

UCC has been forced to back down in an extraordinary row over who was to
blame for part of the university's record ?30m capital deficit.

For the past year and a half, former UCC president Professor Michael Mortell
has been claiming that an attempt was made to rewrite the deficit and
backdate one of the building project decisions to his tenure of office. He
said that this raised serious governance concerns.

The college has now agreed to alter the date of approval for the Plant
Science building, which Prof Mortell insisted had been wrongly dated.

An official spokesperson for the university last night dismissed it as a

He said that the apportionment of the capital deficit between different
administrations was irrelevant.

"The capital deficit is UCC's and must be managed by the university."

However, the Irish Independent has learned that at one stage Prof Mortell
was threatened with legal action by the auditors, Ernst and Young, who said
they would take "seriously any further dissemination by you of defamatory
material concerning Ernst and Young's professional conduct".

The rumpus is one of series of separate rows involving the current
president, Professor Gerry Wrixon.

Prof Wrixon is portrayed by his supporters as an energetic moderniser but
criticised by a number of prominent UCC academics for decisions he has taken
and for his forceful manner.

The latest row has its origins in a review of capital projects prepared by
Ernst and Young in 2002.

It said that the deficit resulted from decisions to approve capital budgets
without adequate funding in place and not as a result of project cost

Prof Mortell objected in particular to the auditors saying approval was
given for the Plant Science project in 1997, when he was president.

He took up the issue with the college authorities, the auditors, and the
Higher Education Authority.

He claimed that there was no consultation with the bursar, who has statutory
responsibilities in this area, as well as the finance office and the
director of buildings and estates.

Nor was Prof Mortell himself consulted, as the accounting officer for the
period in question, he said.

He insisted that the actual decision was taken three years later when Prof
Wrixon had taken over as president.

In a confidential letter to the chairman of the audit committee, Hubert
Murphy, Ernst and Young says it can be difficult to date actual
decision-making, as opposed to approvals, and that this often requires

"It could be valid to assert that the date the finance committee approved
the Plant Science project was the 'project approved date'. However, making
that assumption could be misleading.

"It might ignore particular imperatives at a particular time (such as fire
regulations or other issues at the planning stage), or decisions made in
principle to proceed with a project long before the specific approval to
proceed with the construction," says the letter from Ernst and Young.

The letter was sent to the chairman of the UCC audit committee, Humphrey
Murphy, on June 23.

In a letter to Professor Enda McDonagh, chairman of the governing body,
dated June 29, Mr Murphy agreed that the date for the decision about the
physical science building could be altered in the review of capital

Sources said this vindicated Prof Mortell's claims.

Neither letter was issued to the governing body for its meeting on June 29."

author by Stuartpublication date Tue Sep 26, 2006 16:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The article describes my own dissatisfaction with the complaints procedure enacted by UCC, but it is not unique. I am convinced that it is not possible to obtain a fair hearing at UCC. The judgment of Mr Justice Gilligan in another case indicates the extent to which UCC will alter and manipulate procedures towards a predetermined outcome:

He notes that there is no jurisdiction to discipline the plaintiff, a statutory professor, but nevertheless deals with a number of significant failures to adhere to procedure, any one of which would have rendered UCC's outcome unlawful: "For the sake of completeness I propose to deal with the remaining issues."

The disciplinary procedure of the Universities Act was not followed: "Accordingly I come to the conclusion that the defendant has not in the circumstances of this case complied with the requirements of s. 25(6) of the Universities Act, 1997 and, insofar as it has purported to act pursuant to certain disciplinary procedures not set out in a statute, it has acted ultra vires."

The former Chairman of the LRC was unlawfully retained to add an additional layer to the procedure: "it is clear that there is no provision for the appointment of Mr. Horgan. In fact, as has already been noted, the defendant concedes that this is the case. Rather it seeks to justify Mr. Horgan's appointment"

with the effect of contaminating the outcome: "I am satisfied that his involvement in the disciplinary proceedings and more specifically, his decision that there was a prima facie case against the plaintiff, had the effect of contaminating the entire disciplinary procedure"

The university acted unlawfully in not following its own procedures "Accordingly it follows that the plaintiff is entitled to a declaration that the disciplinary procedure promulgated by the defendant and as applied against the plaintiff is unlawful and ultra vires the defendant and the result of the disciplinary inquiry .... is to be destroyed"

As these are my own selective quotes, the full judgment is linked.

Related Link:
author by Some fuccerpublication date Wed Sep 27, 2006 20:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dr Neilson's complaint isn't available at your link above anymore but you can still get it from:

author by Miriam Cottonpublication date Thu Sep 28, 2006 14:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Note, also, buried in this press release, the mention of of one Dr Joan Buckley who, since her altercation with Connell Fanning and the subsequent, settled-out-of-court, court action, is now Director of a Business Centre having formerly been an administrator in a language centre.

Bob Geldof to headline this year's Irish Family Business Conference at UCC

The 2006 Irish Family Business Conference will be held at UCC on 29 September next and will be headlined by Bob Geldof KBE. The theme for the conference is "Prevention is better than cure - Avoiding conflict through good governance". The potential for conflict in family businesses can be greater than for many other businesses - typically due to a clash between commercial and emotional concerns. This conference seeks to explore how family businesses might avoid such conflict through strong leadership and careful planning. In 2005 the John C. Kelleher Family Business Centre at UCC held its first national conference on sustaining the family business, at which the former British Prime Minister John Major was the keynote speaker.

This year's conference will be opened by an tUas Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Bob Geldof KBE is the keynote speaker, addressing the theme of leadership and making a difference. In addition to his remarkable record as a humanitarian and activist for the poor of Africa, Mr Geldof has many achievements as a businessman and entrepreneur. He has built a number of successful ventures including Planet24, sold to Carlton TV in 1994, and an online travel business sold for $17 million dollars in 2001 and he retains an 8% share in Ten Alps ommunication.

Two family business owners will share their experiences and develop the theme further - Senator Feargal Quinn, President of Superquinn, and Liam Griffin, Managing Director of the Griffin Group, owners of Hotel Kilkenny, Ferrycarrig Hotel, and destination Spa 'Monart' in Enniscorthy. Both will give an insight into how they manage the intersection between family and business. Finally, Professor Joachim Schwass of the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne will discuss the lessons to be learned from leading family businesses throughout the world. The conference will be chaired by Alan Crosbie, Chairman of Thomas Crosbie Holdings Ltd, and Adjunct Professor at the John C. Kelleher Family Business Centre.

In late 2001 UCC set up the Family Business Forum, a consultative group which was designed to understand how UCC might best support family business in Ireland. Its membership drew from some of the most successful family businesses in the country, and it has given rise to a number of successful initiatives. In May 2004 it launched the John C. Kelleher Family Business Centre to further enhance the package of UCC-led initiatives aimed at developing the family business sector in the region and throughout Ireland. The guiding principles for the Centre are as follows:

To strengthen the knowledge base and professional managerial capability of family businesses in Ireland
To build knowledge, research and professional competence concerning family business within the Faculty of Commerce
To network with national agencies and organizations which have a role in advancing knowledge of or providing service to family businesses
To enhance research-based teaching and learning for those involved directly or indirectly with family businesses
To bridge the scholarly and analytical world of academia with the world of
family business.

Dr Joan Buckley, Director of the Family Business Centre at UCC, says "This year's conference will examine one of the more thorny aspects of family business, and I believe we will gain useful insights from all the speakers into ways of avoiding conflict. We are particularly pleased that Thomas Crosbie Holdings Ltd have continued as our main sponsor this year, and are also fortunate to have associate sponsorship from Davy, Enterprise Ireland, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors. We are very grateful to have such active sponsors, who are interested in developing and supporting our family business initiatives."

author by Jerry Cornelius - Cork Foot Beagles Unionpublication date Thu Sep 28, 2006 14:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is the text of an open letter to Wrixon. Afaiaa its not available on line elsewhere.


27 September 2006

Dear Dr Wrixon,

Governance in UCC

As you begin your final term as President of UCC, having announced your decision to resign prematurely from that post, I accept the invitation to reply to the Press Releases that one must assume were issued in your name by UCC in recent days. I do so in an open letter, that I hope you agree should be shared with staff.

The primary reason for doing so is that the Governing Body has decided to rush the appointment of a new President, before you leave office, and that those who were most closely associated with your term of office have appointed themselves to choose the next President. The ‘worldwide’ search is being concluded in one month, the same time it takes to advertise for junior staff. Academics in UCC have been completely excluded from selecting their own representatives on the Selection Committee, while two of your vice-presidents are choosing their own future boss.

An anonymous spokesperson for UCC, apparently speaking on your behalf, was quoted in the Irish Examiner [15 September 2006] as follows: ‘He [i.e. I] was a member of the governing body and if there was corruption, he was a member of that governing body. There isn’t a single instance where any of the allegations he has made have found the university has acted wrongly in any way.’ This spin is obviously false, given the decisions of the High Court [see below, no. 3].

An anonymous spokesman for UCC also told the Evening Echo [15 September, p. 6]: ‘If Professor Clarke has any evidence whatsoever of any corruption in the university, we would hope that he would bring it to the attention of the relevant authorities and that they would vigorously investigate those claims. He has not brought any evidence of corruption to the Governing body, of which he is a member.’

You may wish to endorse these sentiments or, alternatively, you may wish to dissociate yourself publicly from them. Meantime, I am putting on record, for staff who work in UCC, some of the concerns that I have brought or attempted to bring to the attention of the Governing Body. None of these will be new to you, but it is time to inform the staff about them. They are all stakeholders in the institution in which we work.

Confidentiality: it seems obvious that you or UCC cannot have it both ways on this issue — by challenging members of the Governing Body to report their concerns and, at the same time, claiming that everything that they need to reveal is so confidential that its publication is a breach of some code of practice that protects from scrutiny the actions of those who manage publicly-funded bodies. As you know, I have been threatened with removal from the Governing Body three times — in each case, because I brought my concerns to the attention of the Governing Body.

I am glad to see that your spokesperson now agrees with me—that I should bring my concerns to the attention of the ‘relevant authorities’ in expectation of a vigorous investigation. Here is a sample list of my concerns.

1. At the beginning of your term as President, you seemed to ignore apparent conflicts of interest when you intervened in the Department of German. You had an obvious and well-known friendship with Dr. Joachim Beug, and yet you tried to remove Professor Mary Howard from headship of the Department. The High Court rejected the former Registrar’s misinterpretation of the UCC statutes, when he claimed that Professor Howard’s headship had expired by the effluxion of time. When the case was eventually settled in the High Court, with confidentiality clauses, the total costs to UCC were very high, possibly amounting to one million euro.
2. At about the same time, you initiated action against another Professor, i.e. Professor Connell Fanning. This case has been to the High Court, to the Supreme Court [because of Mr. Justice Lavan’s decision without reference to the evidence presented in court], and again to the High Court. The High Court has found, in Fanning v. University College Cork (June 2005), that UCC breached the law and its own statutes in a number of ways, and that you personally had acted ultra vires.
The High Court decided that you and/or the GB had acted unlawfully in a number of ways:
(a) UCC had acted in breach of its statutes by purporting to regulate behaviour that did not fall within the scope of NUI Statute 86, and the disciplinary procedure that you initiated against Professor Fanning was ‘unlawful and ultra vires’;
(b) UCC was also in breach of s. 25 (8) (b) of the Universities Act 1997 by attempting to apply Statute E to a professor who had been appointed prior to 1997, because s. 25 unambiguously protected staff from retrospective changes to their conditions of employment;
(c) The Governing Body of UCC had also breached the law by failing to ‘specify in a statute’ the disciplinary procedures that it wishes to apply to any staff member, and that the Governing Body may not define ‘gross misconduct’ in its own disciplinary procedures, ‘when the very disciplinary procedure itself … should have been set out in Statute E’;
(d) the Disciplinary Procedures do not provide for the appointment of a consultant and ‘the President of UCC/Director of Human Resources should not have allowed themselves to be influenced by Mr. Horgan’s finding;’
(e) your appointment of Mr. Horgan ‘contaminated the whole procedure.’
3. The GB voted, in breach of Statute 147 and your contract of employment with UCC — without having any legal advice [except the informal advice that Mr. Dermot O’Mahony claimed to have received, although he was not the Secretary to the GB] — to extend your term of office as President. This motion was proposed by Mr Dermot O’Mahony. I was not a member of the GB at that time (lest your anonymous spokesperson try to spread the blame about), and Professor Coughlan was outvoted when she objected to the speed with which the decision was made without consulting the Academic Council and without getting official legal advice. UCC failed to advise the Minister for Education & Science or the HEA of this extraordinary decision, so that early in 2003 the Minister had to request the Executive Secretary of the HEA to write to UCC, on his behalf, and to request clarification. Mr. O’Mahony is a member of the Selection Committee for the new President.
4. At the GB meeting of 3.02.04, you invited the GB in breach of its own regulations to defer the appointment of the Finance Committee until the subsequent meeting. Although I informed the meeting of the breach of regulations involved, the GB agreed to breach its own regulations. Mr. Cavanagh was not present on 3.02.02, and was present at the next meeting and was appointed to the Finance Committee [see below under Selection Committee for Office of President].
5. Office of President
The GB discussed the reasons for extending your term of office, at the meeting of 23.03.04 [agenda item 5], and the reasons for amending Statute 147 to provide retrospective validity to its decision of December 2002. I provided a list of issues that I invited the GB to investigate before making a decision on this question [you were absent from the room for this item].
The issues included the following:
a) The circumstances in which you arranged to have advertised a post for a Vice-president for Planning, etc. You appointed all the members of the selection committee for that post, you chaired the committee, and you held a meeting in your office to short-list from among the applicants. Only one applicant was short-listed from among 19 applicants: Mr Michael O’Sullivan, who had worked for many years as your assistant at the NMRC. You arranged for the committee appointed by you to interview Mr. O’Sullivan and he was duly appointed Vice-President of UCC. [You subsequently nominated him for membership of the GB, to which he was appointed]. See below under Selection Committee for the Office of President.
b) You then appointed Mr. O’Sullivan to chair a committee to fill the post of Development Officer. I now invite you to explain publicly all the relevant circumstances of this appointment.
c) I asked the GB to inquire into the letter submitted to you by the former Secretary & Bursar, in which he complained of a ‘tirade of vituperation’ directed towards him and a senior colleague because of their contributions to a meeting that you attended [letter dated 5.03.03]. I was not presuming that Mr. Kelleher’s description of your behaviour as ‘vituperation’ was correct. I merely requested the Governing Body to look into it, and they declined to do so.
d) When I got to this point on the list, I was repeatedly interrupted both by members of the Governing Body and by others in attendance who were not even members, such as Mr. Keeley. Given the obvious breach of GB regulations, which do not permit non-members of the GB to heckle members as they speak, the Chair [Rev. Enda McDonagh] ruled that I was out of order rather than the non-GB members who were preventing me from speaking!
6. When the Vice-President for Human Resources made an appointment to a post in UCC without public advertisement, two members of the GB requested confidential access to the appointment file [since the GB is legally responsible for making appointments of all staff]. You blocked access for 9 months. When access was eventually granted, the two GB members found that Mr. Keeley had appointed someone [not identified here] to a post on a ‘post proposal form’, and that you subsequently appointed the same person to a permanent post in UCC. The GB members in question sent a report to the GB. This item was put on the agenda for the meeting of 8.11.05, in accordance with the regulations. However, the report was from the GB, and you asked the GB to defeat the motion before it was discussed. The GB agreed. Thus a report on this appointment, prepared by two members of the GB, was withheld from the GB meeting and then rejected without having been seen.
7. Having had concerns expressed to me by the former Bursar, I requested the GB [23.03.04] by notice of motion to inquire whether UCC complied with best practice when lodging monies to the University’s account [as required by Statute I, chap. xi]. The GB failed to take any action.
8. I asked, at the same meeting, that the GB inquire whether money that was to be paid to UCC from our 50% share in the University Technology Centre had been lodged to the University’s account or whether the money due to the University had been used without authorization to pay in part for the Glucksman Gallery. Prof. P. Coughlan requested access to the relevant file and it was denied. Mr. Kelleher later confirmed by letter [18.05.05] that 160.000 euro that was due to UCC had been donated to the UCC Art Gallery Project ‘following discussions between the President and Mr. Michael O’Flynn’. I sent Mr. Kelleher’s letter to the Finance Committee, requested clarification, but no appropriate action was taken.
9. At the same meeting I asked the GB to inquire into the financial arrangements for the Victoria Cross student accommodation project. Three reports were then commissioned by UCC, and they confirmed that at a ‘private meeting’ [i.e. when all UCC personnel had been requested to leave the room] you agreed to pay the developer 3 million euro more than the reported unanimous advice of the UCC financial and legal staff, and that you accepted at the same time an offer of 100,000 euro per year for five years [i.e. 0.5 million] for unspecified projects, to be donated to the Cork University Foundation [which is not accountable to the GB]].
10. By notice of motion from a number of governors at the GB [23.03.04], the Office of Human Resources was asked to report whether the Governing Body was/was not compliant with the law in respect of the pension entitlements of all UCC staff [especially part-time]. The GB was informed that UCC was not yet compliant.
11. By notice of motion at the GB [23.03.04] you were requested to ‘inform the Governing Body of the total number of individuals who have been retained as consultants since January 2003 by [your] Office and by all relevant sub-offices, and of the annual costs associated with the employment of these individuals and the purposes for which they have been retained.’ This includes Mr. Sweeney, Mr Dunnion, et. al. This information has never been provided, despite the fact that UCC is a publicly funded institution, that the GB is responsible legally for the employment of all staff, including contract staff, and that our salaries are a matter of public record. The failure to provide this information is in breach of the Universities Act 1997, Fourth Schedule, s. 3 (2).
12. At the GB meeting of 29.06.04, the GB was invited to approve a so-called Protocol to control access to relevant UCC files by members of the GB. The GB got legal opinion in advance from Mr. Gerard Hogan, S.C., following my request, which confirmed the legal entitlement of governors to inspect files that pertain to issues that were specifically assigned to governors by the Universities Act. Despite Mr. Hogan’s unequivocal legal opinion, the GB was requested to approve a so-called Protocol that was described by the University’s Solicitors as ‘almost a refusal to allow a Governor to inspect a file . . .’ The UCC Solicitors went on to say: ‘the restrictions on the Governor getting access to a file would be struck down by the High Court as an interference on the right and indeed the duty of a Governor to carry out his [sic] functions.’ However, you informed the Governing Body meeting that you had received legal advice on this issue, although no record of such legal advice appeared in UCC’s reply to a subsequent Freedom of Information request. Thus, contrary to Senior Counsel opinion and the legal advice subsequently sought from the College Solicitors, you arranged for the GB to approve a Protocol that effectively prevented its members having access to files that they were legally entitled to view.
13. Meeting of GB, 14.12.04: You read a lengthy prepared statement to the GB in which you accused me of saying ‘something which he [i.e. D Clarke] knows to be untrue.’ You had been advised in advance of the meeting by my solicitor that, if you repeated in the Governing Body meeting what you had written in a letter, it would amount to ‘legal malice’. The statement which you claimed I had uttered and was allegedly known by me to be untrue never even appeared in my confidential letter to governors! You continued to claim that it was in my letter, that it was false, and that I knew it was false. Whether this alleged falsehood appeared in my letter can be resolved by giving copies of my letter, and of your extensive comments to the Governing Body, to some independent person or agency. Alternatively, I can arrange to post both documents on the college website.
Do you now accept that this amounted to bullying, by you, of a member of the Governing Body who was attempting to do his duty? You subsequently refused to circulate to members of the GB my reply to your prepared written comments at the meeting of 14.12.04. You offered instead [GB meeting, 1.02.05] that the matter be referred to the Audit Committee, chaired by Mr. Humphrey Murphy [who had a motion on the agenda of the same GB meeting to remove me from the GB]! See below under Selection Committee for Office of President.
14. The University provided an apartment for your use. Was this in breach of public sector guidelines? Who approved it within UCC prior to implementation?
15. Statute I, Ch. iv provides that correspondence on behalf of the University is conducted under the direction of the President. Custom and practice, and the statutes that pertain to the post of the former Secretary & Bursar, required Mr. Kelleher to write officially on behalf of the GB to, for example, the HEA. When Rev. McDonagh and/or Professor Hyland [who since February 2004 was not even a member of the GB] met with the HEA executive and wrote to the HEA on behalf of the GB, did they act under your direction [which would seem like an obvious conflict of interest], or did they write without proper authorization, thereby subverting the statutory role of the Secretary to the GB?
16. When the GB approved Statute G [to extend your term of office as President to 10 years], members of the UCC executive discussed with the HEA the suggestion that UCC would approve a general statute for all presidents and that the HEA would arrange for the application of that statute to you alone. This is documented in correspondence made available under the Freedom of Information Act. The proposed arrangement was shown to be in breach of Statute I. Four members of the GB sought legal advice [for which the University has refused to pay; see below], and the Minister for Education and Science and the Minister for Finance accepted that legal advice. Statute G, as approved by the GB, simply would not work. The GB was advised of this by the Secretary General of the HEA on 13.12.04, i.e. the day before the relevant GB meeting.
17. The GB approved Statute J, to extend your term of office as President [14.12.04] in breach of the GB’s regulations: the item was not on the agenda; Mr. Cavanagh [as Deputy Chair] did not provide for its consideration in accordance with Regulation No. 7; the relevant documentation was withheld from the meeting for the first two hours, until it was suddenly tabled for immediate approval; it was not proposed or seconded by any GB member; it was approved without getting legal advice; and without knowing, at the time, whether the GB was approving a new statute or amending a former statute. We were invited to approve it and to find out later what we had done!
18. Mr. N. Keeley advised Mr. Kelleher that one GB member, elected by Graduates, had been appointed to a permanent post and that the validity of her membership of the GB was doubtful. Without getting legal advice, Mr. Kelleher informed the GB member in question that her term of office had lapsed. This was mistaken, although the GB member in question was thereby required to seek professional advice as a result of the Secretary’s mistake. This was the first case of seeking to remove an elected member from the GB, in this case by misunderstanding the law and failing to get legal advice before making a faux pas.
19. Following my consultation of the files concerning Victoria Lodge, two GB members, Mr. Humphry Murphy and Mr. Joe Gantly, proposed a motion [meeting of 14.12.04] for my removal from office. Mr. Kelleher advised that this was not in order at the meeting. However, the Deputy Chair, Mr. Cavanagh allowed consideration of the motion. Following discussion, it was then was deferred to the subsequent meeting.
20. Prior to the subsequent meeting [1.02.05] Mr. Kelleher sought legal advice from the college solicitors concerning the motion to remove an elected member from the GB. They advised that the motion had little chance of success because those who proposed it had not established any stated cause. However, the legal advice was withheld from the meeting of the GB for which it had been sought. In these circumstances, I had to get independent legal advice. The GB has refused to pay for this legal advice also – although the need to get it arose from a misguided motion, and from the fact that the Secretary to the GB had obtained the relevant legal advice [paid by UCC] which was withheld from the meeting.
21. I advised the Finance Committee (Chaired by Mr. Dermot O’Mahony, and of which you are a member) of a conflict of interest in the appointment of a director of O’Flynn Construction as a director of UCC company with which it was in competition. The Finance Committee refused to take appropriate action. See below under Selection Committee for Office of President.
22. You chaired the Lecturer Promotions & Establishment Board, which reported to the GB on 14.12.04. When the report of the Promotions Board was brought to the Governing Body, one member of the GB [whom the minutes confirm as in attendance for his own appointment], refused to clarify if he did/did not hold a PhD [which was one criterion for promotion]. There was widespread concern about the decisions on this occasion and some staff appealed to the Appeal Committee. At a subsequent meeting of the GB, the GB was asked to uphold some appeals, but Professor Hyland refused to give the GB the report from the Appeal Committee on the basis of which the GB was making this decision! At a later meeting of the GB – subsequent to your extension in office as President being granted—the Appeal Committee [chaired by Mr. Justice O’Leary] reported that the Promotions Board, which you chaired, had not followed its own regulations.
23. At the GB meeting of 21.06.05, I requested by formal notice of motion that you provide the GB with information concerning any ‘office or position’ you hold apart from the Presidency of UCC. The Universities Act 1997 Fourth Schedule, s. 4, makes it unlawful for you to hold any ‘office or position’ without the approval of the GB. You refused to provide the information sought, but informed the meeting that you had not taken up any new positions since being appointed President of UCC. This is not true. You have been appointed a director of various UCC companies since then. More importantly, the GB could not possibly have approved offices or positions that you held in December 1998, since you were not subject to this provision of the law on that date. You became subject to this provision only in January 1999 after you assumed the Presidency of UCC, and I know of no record of the GB ever approving any ‘offices or positions’ that you may hold. Can you now inform staff of any offices or positions that you hold apart from being President of UCC?
24. Tyndall Institute approval: It is unclear to me whether the GB has formally approved the establishment of the Tyndall Institute and/or the participation of UCC in the Institute. The GB was invited by Mr. Michael O’Sullivan, at its meeting of 8.11.05, to approve the principles of its establishment without having had any report from the Finance Committee. If the GB were approving the expenditure of funds, this decision would be in breach of Regulation No. 60. At the GB of 7.02.06, the Secretary, Mr. R. Graham, introduced a further report on the same Institute, while advising the GB that formal approval was not being sought at that meeting. It is unclear to members of the GB what the likely financial outlays will be for the Tyndall Institute, and/or whether the Finance Committee has provided an estimate of same. Can you clarify (a) if the GB has formally approved UCC’s involvement in the Tyndall Institute, and (b) if so, what will be the financial costs to UCC of its participation?
25. Section. 27 (2) (b) of the Universities Act 1997 requires the governing authority of each university to put in place a statute to protect the tenure of all full-time academic staff. Despite the fact that this requirement has been in place for 9 years, the UCC Governing Body has failed to provide any statutory protection for academic staff, as required by the Act. Thus academic staff appointed after 1997 lack the statutory protection of their tenure that was enjoyed by staff appointed prior to 1997, and that is required by law. Can you explain why UCC has failed to implement the law for 9 years?
26. Appointment of College Heads: the documents approved by the Governing Body and presented [without a vote of approval or otherwise] to the Academic Council made reference to ‘Executive Deans’. When it was pointed out to you, at the meeting of the Academic Council on 16 September 2005 that, according to Statute I, the Deans in UCC are elected by their faculties; that only members of a faculty can be elected Dean; and that Deans are defined as the Secretary and Executive Office of each faculty, you arranged to modify plans so that the people appointed would be called ‘Heads’. However, Deans continue to be elected as before by their respective faculties. It is difficult to see what has been achieved by the appointment of Heads (who have no statutory authority in the University), apart from the extra expenses [not yet revealed to the GB] incurred.
27. Your title: this may seem like a trivial matter, but it is symptomatic of something very fundamental. Universities are involved in accrediting students and validating credentials. It makes a difference whether someone is/is not a professor, does/does not hold a PhD. You always style yourself as a professor, although you must know that you are not a professor. When it was important, in the context of getting approval for your unprecedented extension, to block any possible knock-on effects for other professors in UCC [see below, no 30], the Chair of the GB [Rev. McDonagh] confirmed to the HEA that you are not a professor [letter dated 08.03.04]. ‘I confirm that President Wrixon does not hold a chair.’ However, you subsequently gave evidence under oath to the High Court on 13.01.05 that you are a professor at UCC and that you were appointed to your current chair before 1997! In case you have forgotten, here is a transcript of the evidence from the official court report.
‘Q. Mr. McCullough [Counsel for UCC]: Professor, you are a Professor of Microelectronics, is that correct?
A. That’s correct.
Q: Mr. Allen [Counsel for Professor Fanning]: Are you – are you an NUI Professor, Professor Wrixon? Are you a National University of Ireland – do you hold your appointment from the Senate of the National University?
A: Yes, I do. I was appointed pre-1997.’
As you know, you are not Professor of Microelectronics at UCC [a chair held by Peter Kennedy], and you hold your current appointment, not from the NUI, but from the Governing Body of UCC.
The significant issue here is whether expediency is the order of the day in the current administration. It is a good example of how a fundamental value, namely truthfulness, that is essential to a University can be eroded by spin and ambiguity. The implications for our standards and therefore for our long-term reputation will be obvious to all. If we cannot get agreement on simple factual matters, what chance is there that we could get reliable figures on the current UCC debt? Can you now confirm that you are not a professor in UCC or elsewhere?
28. University Debts: your spokesman is quoted as saying, in large bold capitals: that the debt claim attributed to me is ‘absolute nonsense.’ The Finance Committee of the GB reported recently that the ‘unfunded’ capital deficit was 41.16 million euro. The same Finance Committee reported that UCC is likely to exceed its overdraft facility of 9 million euro on the current budget.
UCC reported officially to the HEA that our current debts exceed 100 million euro. Within that 100 million, it is claimed that the 10.6 million borrowed for the Medical Building is ‘funded’, because UCC expects [in the future] to earn money from economic fee-paying students in medicine that will help pay off the debt. Likewise, for approximately 60 million of the total debt, it is hoped that specified future earnings will help discharged the debts. None of these expectations of future possible income-streams changes the reality that: (a) UCC is in debt to the tune of approximately 100 million euro; (b) UCC currently pays a significant amount of its current income on interests charges; (c) these debts will be passed on to the next generation and will seriously hinder developments because our future earnings are already committed to paying off debts incurred during your presidency. Can you confirm what UCC pays annually in interest charges on its total debts?
These figures vary from month to month, but the unfunded capital deficit has increased every year since you came into office as President. We now seem to have reached a crisis with the proposed IT Building. Can you confirm, or can you arrange for any of your officials to confirm, that the HEA and/or the Department of Education and Science has agreed to fund the costs [or some of the costs] of this building? If not, is UCC about to add an extra 60 million euro to its ‘unfunded’ capital deficit?
29. The Pension Fund: there is an apparent conflict of interest when the Finance Committee that has authorized the vast debts since you assumed the Presidency is also responsible for the protection of the Pension Fund. This might not be worrying, if the committee in question had not discussed [GB minutes, 20.12.03] ‘the possibility of the Pension Fund divesting its current property portfolio and re-investing in UCC property.’ This matter is so serious, for current staff and those retired on pensions, that I have referred it for independent investigation to the Pensions Ombudsman Office.
30. Extension of Professors in Office: when three Professors of UCC requested an extension in office in accordance with the provisions of Statute 79, you informed the GB [12.06] —apparently without any hint of irony—that UCC has had a policy in place since 1987 of never extending any professor or staff member in office beyond the age of 65. Despite the fact that the GB adopted a policy document against ageism in 2002, which included a proposal to ‘reactivate’ the statute that allowed professors to remain in office after the age of 65, the GB agreed by majority vote to the motion you proposed. The only exception, therefore, to the policy adopted in 1987 is yourself.
31. Legal Advice for Members of the GB: some members incurred expenses while performing their legal obligations as members [under items 13, 16, 17 and 20 above]. The Finance Committee advised the GB not to pay these expenses, if the members in question raised the question at a GB meeting. Accordingly, the GB refused to pay the legal expenses of its own members [meeting of 28.03.06]. However, it would appear that Mr. Dermot O’Mahony – who proposed the original motion to extend your term of office as President – has a conflict of interest in advising the GB not to pay for the legal expenses of governors who showed that the strategy developed to extend you in office was in breach of the statutes. It also emerged, following a written request, that Mr. Dermot O’Mahony had given instructions to have UCC pay, on his behalf, expenses incurred for legal advice which he has not made available, in any written form, to the GB. The invoice [dated 29.07.03] reads: ‘To meeting with Mr. Dermot O’Mahony in connection with proposal to extend the term of Presidency. . . Noting his instructions … etc.’ A handwritten note clarifies, in reference to ‘his’: ‘Chairperson of FC [i.e. Finance Committee] instruction?’ The GB members involved have referred this matter to the Ombudsman [of the State].
32. The Communications Office under your direction spins for the media. One example: The Irish Examiner [2.02.05] reported that ‘the meeting [of the GB] decided to deal with the issue [of my proposed removal from the GB] through an ethics committee to be set up shortly.’ As you should know, the meeting did not decide that, and the minutes confirm that it didn’t. This might have been a simple mistake by the newspaper. However, I asked Mr. Kelleher to correct the report or to issue a new statement and he failed to do so. The record stands, mistakenly, that the GB decided to deal with my ‘unfitting behaviour’ through an ethics committee.

This is merely a sample list of some of the issues that I have attempted to bring to the notice of the GB, all of which were already well-known when the UCC spokesperson spoke anonymously to the Press last week. There are many other issues that you may wish should be published, such as the recent purported dismissal of the Publisher of Cork University Press by Mr. O’Sullivan, the circumstances in which staff assigned to your office left the office, etc.

When the Governing Body meets, you arrange to have a significant number of people in attendance who are not GB members, and they participate in its deliberations as if they were members. They include Mr. Sweeney, Mr. O’Sullivan [before he was recently appointed a member on your nomination], Prof. Kennedy, Prof. A. Hyland, Mr. T. O’Leary and Mr. D Collins. This is as if a political party in the Dáil lacked enough TDs to vote through their policies and they invited some civil servants or constituency members to attend, in the Dáil seats, to provide moral support for TDs. I can understand that their presence may provide some security for you, and their mute presence might be tolerable to other genuine members. However, it breaches the GB regulations, regularly, when those who are not members of the GB interrupt or barrack those who are members, and when they are allowed by the Chair to propose motions for adoption by the GB [in breach of the regulations], including a motion to extend you in office as President [GB meeting, 14.12.04] or the motion proposed by a visiting solicitor to establish a sub-committee to inquire into allegations of bullying [GB meeting, 28.03.06].

Bullying and Intimidation
The international literature on bullying shows that most employees who are bullied leave their posts, if possible. Some have nervous breakdowns, and some even commit suicide. In UCC, many staff members have been afraid to express their concerns during your term as President, and this atmosphere has prevented many people from reporting their experiences.
Evidently, any staff member who believes that they have been treated in breach of the law or the University Statutes may bring their case to the courts. This is extremely expensive for them, and for the University, while it costs you nothing personally. You enjoy the privilege of acting unlawfully (according to the High Court’s judgment) or in breach of the statutes, and passing on the costs incurred to the University. The acknowledged legal costs of actions that involved UCC between 2000 and 2005 amounted to 3.338 million euro. Can you confirm that, as a result, UCC’s insurance against the costs of litigation has been cancelled by our insurers?
On two occasions during your term as President, I have sat in the High Court when it decided that actions taken by you and UCC were in breach of the law and/or the statutes. The personal and financial costs to the staff involved were enormous.
So it’s just not good enough for UCC to say: if any staff member thinks we are acting illegally, take us to court! However, if all staff in UCC – including you, the Director of Human Resources, the Secretary, et al. – had to pay personally the legal costs of unlawful actions, would you and your executive be so bullish about the legality of your joint actions, allegedly on behalf of the University?
One litigant claimed to have found a way around this dilemma, by calling as witness in a court case a UCC appointee whose evidence might be embarrassing.
It is now time for all staff at UCC to come out from under alleged threats and intimidation, and to make public the concerns they have about the way in which they have been treated by their employer.
As already indicated, you cannot hide in the shadow of confidentiality to prevent relevant information, which is a matter of public interest, from coming to the notice of staff who may be affected to their detriment, and at the same time arrange for Press Releases that challenge staff to make public their concerns.
I am happy to make public all the documents in my possession in which you:
· blocked governors from having access to UCC files;
· approved appointments which seem to corrupt the appointment procedures that are required in the public sector;
· and/or have been found by the High Court to have breached the law and UCC statutes.
One of the most sensitive outstanding issues is the issue of bullying of staff. If anyone makes public the cases that are pending, UCC is likely to claim – falsely, in my view – that the parties involved are thereby deprived of a fair hearing. However, if they are not made public, the University can fail in secret to apply its own procedures and can fail, unlawfully, to satisfy the requirements of Health and Safety legislation by deferring indefinitely an inquiry into allegations. Can you confirm, without prejudice to what may eventually be established, whether any senior members of your administration have been alleged to have bullied staff [apart from the case already reported in public from Mr. Kelleher’s letter]? Can you confirm if any members of the administration have submitted solicitor’s letters to protect their jobs in the University?
Alternatively, since it is too late to carry on any further pretence, can you authorize publication of all relevant files that pertain to
· UCC debts,
· the total number of legal cases taken against UCC during your presidency,
· the lapse of our litigation insurance due to the number of cases taken,
· the reasons why you have authorized the settlement of some cases,
· allegations of bullying that may be outstanding and may not have been investigated in accordance with the policies that you introduced and arranged to have approved by the GB?

Rather than arrange to have anonymous spokespersons speak on your behalf, would you agree to debate with me, publicly, all the concerns that I have tried to raise in the GB and have brought to the attention of the Minister for Education & Science with respect to governance at UCC?

It is impossible any longer to avoid further public discussions of these concerns by briefing journalists about the credibility or otherwise of the messenger.

Selection Committee for Office of President: Nor will matters disappear by questioning my motives. For what they are worth, the concerns listed above are now urgent because the Governing Body, after a worldwide search scheduled to last only four weeks, has decided to appoint a new President in December [before you leave office], and has decided that the choice of an appointee will be made by the following people chosen exclusively by the current GB:
Mr. Michael O’Sullivan [a Vice-president appointed by the GB in the manner outlined above]
Prof. Paul Giller [the Registrar, appointed during your administration]
Mr Dermot O’Mahony [Chair of the Finance Committee]
Mr. Humphrey Murphy [a member of the Selection Committee that selected you as President 8 years ago]
Mr. Tom Cavanagh [a close associate of yours and member of the Finance Committee]
Dr Norma Ryan [who was not selected for this role by academics]
Prof. Anita Maguire [who was not selected for this role by academics]
Mr. Frank Martin [who was not selected for this role by academics]

Trust may seem like an elusive reality. Be assured, however, that academic staff do not trust those who have been appointed to positions of academic leadership when academic staff had no significant input into the decisions. Genuine academic authority is earned, rather than acquired by stealth or favour. One cannot confer the authority required for academic leadership by a flawed appointment process. If those who are appointed to positions of academic leadership during your administration had failed to be appointed to a chair in their own discipline, can loyalty compensate for lack of achievement? In the case of Mr. Gantly, he was selected by you as chair of the restructuring committee and was subsequently short-listed for appointment as ‘Head’ of the so-called non-statutory College of Law and Commerce. Was this an aberration, or merely a symptom of a general pattern?

Given the current unprecedented debts of the University, and the concerns expressed about the Pension Fund, UCC is an academic ENRON waiting to happen.

Can any independent agency investigate before it is too late?

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Desmond M. Clarke
Elected Member of the Governing Body

author by Stuartpublication date Thu Sep 28, 2006 15:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I asked UCC for information about systematic bullying (anonymous stats like number of cases, long-term sickness, legal costs, etc) which are promised by their Equality & Welfare policy and was refused, so I asked the Minister (then Noel Dempsey) and was refused, two TDs (Joe Higgins and Dan Boyle) asked Dáil questions, which were rejected, so I sent in a Freedom of Information request which was refused, and then an appeal which was refused. Then the Information Ombudsman stepped in and the query was sent to the Higher Education Authority who produced a REPORT! Which I have not had the privilege of seeing....

Here are the two Dáil exchanges:

Joe Higgins TD

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 27th January, 2004. Reference Number: 1847/04, 1848/04, 1849/04, 1850/04, 1851/04 (Questions 505, 506, 507, 508, 509)

Joe Higgins: To ask the Minister for Education and Science his plans to carry out a study of the extent of the problem of bullying in Irish universities.

To ask the Minister for Education and Science the total cost in legal fees for each university arising from Irish universities contesting cases of bullying through the Courts between 1998-2003.

To ask the Minister for Education and Science the total number of cases relating to bullying involving staff or ex-staff of Irish universities brought through the courts between 1998-2003.

To ask the Minister for Education and Science the amount of money expended in out-of-court settlements between 1998-2003 arising from Irish universities contesting cases of bullying through the courts.

To ask the Minister for Education and Science the number of out-of-court settlements between 1998-2003 arising from Irish universities contesting cases of bullying through the courts.

Minister for Education and Science (Mr Noel Dempsey, T.D.): I propose to take questions 505, 506, 507, 508 and 509 together. As the Deputy is aware, the Universities Act, 1997 confers autonomous statutory responsibilities on universities in relation to the day to day management of their affairs. My Department does not collect information in relation to the issues raised by the Deputy. I have no proposals to carry out a study in relation to bullying in Irish universities.

Dan Boyle TD

For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 29th September, 2004. Reference Number: 22956/04

Dan Boyle: To ask the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the accusations of staff bullying at University College Cork; if he has sought information on whether such accusations have validity; and if so, the action which can be taken.

Minister for Education and Science (Mr Noel Dempsey, T.D.): As the Deputy will be aware, under the Universities Act, 1997, universites are autonomous institutions and I as Minister have no role in the day to day management of the institutions. The Universities Act provides for the governing authority to establish procedures for the resolution of disputes which arise in the university, other than disputes to be dealt with through normal industrial relations structures operating in the university.

The university staff perspective
So we really don't know if there is systematic bullying in UCC. Although in the Employee Assistance Programme "Annual" report (only produced once, in 2002) UCC's own staff did have this to say:

“Internal politics of UCC will always supersede staff concerns and staff difficulties”

“We’re not really part of mainstream UCC. Most of us feel isolated – very little support system”

“Exploitation by UCC of its temporary staff. What can be done to reduce it?”

“UCC has serious problems re: looking after staff welfare, and there is a problem that jobs, benefits/promotion is at stake if problems are raised again and again”

“Concerns about job security after lodging complaint about workplace bullying and intimidating”

“It does not deal with the type of bullying institutionalised in universities”

“I have a very stressful work environment. The leadership culture in this organisation is a bullying culture. There’s no transparency for accountability for leaders and I am considering giving up work as a result”

“There is a problem with bullying in our office and I do not think that the current structures in UCC could deal with it effectively. I don’t think the EAP is probably the best place to deal with these concerns, but it might help to let off steam. The problem is that the management at the top are bullies – it trickles down the management line so while we have excellent policies re bullying, harassment management they are (or I perceive them to be) not much use”

“There is a culture of bullying & harassment in UCC – lot of tolerance of this behaviour”

“Most of my work-related problems relate to the inadequate support structure provided by the College”

“Mistrust College systems for addressing these issues believe (rightly or wrongly) they would be weighed in favour of management”

“I believe there are other cultural/morale problems in the University which need to be improved rather than a support service to deal with the problems”

“The culture and operational mode of UCC is alien to EAP. Policy on paper is fine; reality totally different. UCC makes people sick – including HR modus operandi”

“I do not have a strong opinion on EAP but would like to see it as a substitute for a HR Dept which is sensitive to working conditions of employees and which on a daily basis Fights for practical solution”

(from with more at

author by Miriam Cottonpublication date Fri Sep 29, 2006 09:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

29 September 2006

Ex-UCC president calls for mismanagement claim probe

By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

A FORMER president of University College Cork (UCC) has called for an
investigation into allegations of mismanagement at the college.

Professor Michael Mortell, who was succeeded by Prof Gerry Wrixon in 1999,
said Education Minister Mary Hanafin has the legal power to appoint an
independent person to investigate allegations sent to her by a member of UCC
's governing body.

Philosophy department head Prof Des Clarke called for an inquiry into the
running of the 15,000-student campus a fortnight ago, claiming:

* Appointments were made corruptly.

* University statutes and regulations were breached.

* Staff were being bullied.

* Unsustainable levels of debt were being accumulated under Prof Wrixon's

These allegations were outlined in detail by Prof Clarke in an open letter
to Prof Wrixon circulated to hundreds of university staff this week.

The Department of Education has asked the Higher Education Authority to
examine Prof Clarke's allegations, sent to the department during the summer,
and the minister's decision on whether to have them investigated will be
based on the authority's report.

Prof Mortell said Prof Clarke is a person of the highest integrity and
ethical standards, and his statements to a news conference in Dublin this
month should be taken very seriously.

The university did respond to the former president's views last night. But a
spokesperson described as "absolute nonsense" the claims of financial
mismanagement made in the letter to Prof Wrixon by Prof Clarke, who
described UCC as "an academic ENRON waiting to happen".

author by Traderpublication date Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

23. ... Can you now inform staff of any offices or positions that you hold apart from being President of UCC?

General Semiconductor held an Annual Meeting of Stockholders on May 9, 2001.

1. The stockholders approved the election of six directors.

Prof. Gerard T. Wrixon

The Audit Committee is composed of three non-employee directors: Peter A. Schwartz, Chairman; Ronald Rosenzweig; and Prof. Gerard T. Wrixon. All members of the Audit Committee are independent, financially literate and at least one member has accounting and financial management expertise. The Audit Committee held three meetings in 2000.


Vishay buys General Semiconductor -,1902,28444,00.html

author by Miriampublication date Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think Prof Wrixon has more interests than that:

He is director of the Tyndall (was NMRC) and was a director of Farran, of course. Directorships of "companies" plural are mentioned in in news reports. So far as I am aware he is on Cork Airport Authority and the Cork Opera House boards. Any other directorships are unlikely to show up because the Companies Registration Office is still, incredibly, all on paper , unless they are on the stock exchange. This one you refer to must be a publicly-quoted US company?

An illustration of his iron-fisted control at UCC is that Wrixon is on all of the following:

UCC Audit Committee,
Bord na Gaeilge (chair),
Dental Hospital Committee (chair),
Quality Promotion Committee (chair),
Associate Professor Promotions Board,
Lecturer Promotions and Establishment Board (NB - all new lecturer recruits are on temporary one year contracts - the perception is that you are vetted over three or four years minimum before you are deemed suitable for permanent employment, and often not even then. Only those who go completely under to the status quo will ever make it.)
Buildings Commitee and Strategic Planning Committee.

author by Emmapublication date Sat Sep 30, 2006 09:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Has any one else been bullied by someone in authority in education?

I was bullied on a course. The tutor must have felt very insecure. She was a particularly poor teacher her knowledge was very outdated and had told us all to cheat on Health and Safety aspects. They had failed to provide safety equipment that was needed in order to write up practical procedures honestly. When I queried how I was to write up procedures as we were without the hygiene equipment she said: “Just make it up.” I felt very uncomfortable being expected to perform procedures which breached manufactures’ safety warnings. I’d done really well on previous courses, but this tutor really had it in for me. I was heavily bullied off the course.

There were many similarities with UCC allegations. The college wasted so much money. They would equip areas and then have to move a year later because they hadn’t realised they were breaching disability access rights. I’m still in the process of complaining, but it is very disheartening as I don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

I have suffered similarities to Dr Neilson’s:

I complained describing behaviours which are indisputably bullying.
My college did not fully investigate or act on the complaint.
My college has no right of appeal and the finding is not open to question, even though their reply contained inaccuracies that I could prove.
I was removed from my course without a fair hearing.
My Bully threatened to sue me when she found out I was saying I was being bullied

My bully managed to get the students to write nasty appraisals on her tutor colleague. I then heard the students say they regretted what they had written. She would lie about the most trivial things. It is so depressing that the people in authority at the college support the bully. It left me feeling so depressed until I realise that I had so much more going for me than Bully had. I still feel frustrated that everyone in authority sided with this tutor who was a manipulative bully. I have a mild form or dyslexia which the college confirmed, but she went down to tell the person trained to test me that I wasn’t and gave me a really hard time for my dyslexic traits.

I have been to discuss with the Quality Manager at the examining body why I had done really well on a similar course and so badly in the practical work on Bully’s course. They are investigating; they said nobody checked to see if she was marking the practical work to national standards. The Quality Manager has told me I will not be allowed to know the outcome of their investigation. They did say they have put a block on the college delivering this qualification, I see on their website that they are now offering a very similar course.

I fully sympathise with Dr Neilson.

author by Miriam Cottonpublication date Fri Oct 20, 2006 14:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Contrary to claims by UCC and Minister Hanafin that the HEA had previously conducted an enquiry into the issues raised by Professor Des Clarke, the HEA had in fact confirmed the exact opposite two weeks ago. Here is the story as given in today's Irish Examiner by Niall Murray, Education Correspondent:

"An independent inquiry into allegations of mismanagement at University College Cork is expected to be anounced after college governors meet the Higher Education Authority (HEA) next week.

The authority has been asked by Education Minister Mary Hanafin to examine the allegations made to her during the summer by UCC governing body member Professor Des Clarke. They include allegations the college has accumulated unsustainable debt and has had a large nunmber of bulying claims from staff during the tenure of UCC president Professor Gerry Wrixon - claims Prof Wrixon strongly refutes.

The HEA has previously examined some of these allegations but acknowledged to Prof Clarke it had never conducted an inquiry in relation to them.

I can confirm that the HEA has not carried out an inquiry into the allegations and any reports to the contrary are icorrect," HEA chief exectuive Tom Boland wrote in an email to Prof Clarke a fortnight ago.

Tje Department of Education and UCC management have said recently that the HEA has previously found no merit in the allegations.

A HEA spokesperson said it had brought previous allegations to the UCC governing body and decided, on the basis of the college's response, that no further action was required. Ms Hanafin said last week she would prefer to see the matters assessed by an independent third party, acceptable to both sides.

This appears increasingly likely to happen, although such a move would fall short of the demand by Prof Cklarke backed by former UCC president Professor Michael Mortell - for the minister to appoint a visitor under the Universities Act.

She can appoint such a person, up to the position of a High Court judge, to examine alleged breaches of university laws or statutes.

UCC governing body chairman Profesor enda McDonagh is expected to be accompanid by three fellow governors at next Tuesday's meeting with the HEA in Dublin.

The latest developments are taking place as the first set of candidates who have applied to succeed Prof Wrixon when he retires next January are due to be interviewed.

These wil be conducted by English recruitment consultants engaged by UCC, who will present a shortlist for the governing body's selection sub-committee for final decision.

author by Noel Dolanpublication date Sun Oct 22, 2006 14:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What is to be made of, if anything, the fact that the Social Science department has employed a convicted IRA bomber as a lecturer.
He was working as a lecturer in Lancashire University and used that post as a cover for explosives smuggling and bomb-making activities.

I met with the head of the department and the course coordinator last week.
My class rep was also present.

The short story:

They are proud, nay delighted, to have him on board - he's getting on great with all the other staff in the department.
They didn't know about the specific of his terrorist activities but they were delighted at the fact that he had chosen to disclose his arrest and release to them.
He was the best candidate for the job and he's from a 'poor-pulled himself up from the gutter' background..
They weren't aware of his current activities/affiliations (IRSP/INLA).
He came with excellent references from highly esteemed academics.
He has brilliant academic qualifications.
We've all moved on - society has moved on.
We need to be sophisticated, tolerant and embracing of all - its the only way to win them over - the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

I challenged all of these assumptions:

The appeal to authority (references) is a logical fallacy I told them.
The statement that the alternative is too horrible to contemplate - implies that there are no other alternatives which is also a fallacy.
The fact that he is highly qualified probably got him the job in Lancashire University which facilitated his terrorist activities.

They gave one mature student who was caught up in a bombing an exemption but aren't prepared to consider anyone else for exemptions.

Most of the mature students in my class are appalled but the younger students couldn't care less (their words).

My class rep was supposed to make an announcement to the class asking them to think about the matter over the weekend but he has cut himself out of the loop now.

This new lecturer is also rabidly anti-Israeli and refers to anyone disagreeing with him as a Zionist a term "certain individuals and groups have a pejorative to justify attacks on Israel. In some cases, the label "Zionist" is also used as a euphemism for Jews in general by apologists for anti-Semitism (as in the Polish anti-Zionist campaign and Zionology)." (Wikipedia).

He is a member of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign which sounds pretty benign but when they start canvassing for boycotts against ,and moratoriums of funding for, Israeli universities then they've crossed the line IMO. How would he like it if there was a call internationally for UCC to be boycotted until he publicly apologised for his crimes (he's linked to Warrington) and made to denounce terrorism as a legitmate method to his political ends?

The Irish Republican Socialist Party is against the Belfast Agreement (under which he was released after serving only 5 out of 25 years) and is waiting for it's failure and the first British shot so that they may resume the war.


author by Fogical Lallacypublication date Sun Oct 22, 2006 16:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The appeal to authority (references) is a logical fallacy I told them.

You were wrong. If one accepts that Group A consists of people possessing the properties of competence/knowledge and Group A tells you that Person Z also has knowledge/competence then it is rational to assume that Person Z has those properties. I'm surprised they didn't sling you out on your ear and tell you to take course in logic. If you can't understand the difference between the pure propositional logic that you're bandying about and the situation that you describe then you're pretty divorced from reality and probably need to do a lot more personal development before you try to study other human beings.

Of course if you don't accept that Group A possesses those properties and can discern them in others then you're completely wasting your time in academia and being hypocritical in trying to gain recognition from members of Group A while at the same time dismissing the validity of that recognition when it is applied to others.

The lecturer sounds interesting and admirable and probably possesses a worthwhile perspective. I'd be more interested in taking a course from him than the usual suspects.

author by Stuartpublication date Tue Oct 24, 2006 13:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Regularly updated UCC news links at

The Teacher's Pet in the Irish Times today, 24/10/2006, claims that President Wrixon's "surprise resignation" was not conveyed to the Minister beforehand. The assumption behind a lot of news reports seems to be that Wrixon was somehow compelled into resignation.

There is a meeting between UCC and the HEA today to clarify the issues alleged by Professor Clarke.

Why did Mary Hanafin come out so strongly in favour of an investigation into the alleged goings-on at UCC?
Hanafin's stance surprised many as college president Gerry Wrixon's appetite for radical change at UCC had made him the Government's favourite academic, a distinction (?) he had shared with UCD's Hugh Brady.
Hanafin worked hard to secure Wrixon his much sought after extension beyond normal retirement age last year - even though this was furiously opposed by the anti-Wrixon camp in UCC.
But, like everyone else, she was taken by surprise when Wrixon - shortly after winning that extension - signalled his intention of retiring next January.
UCC, apparently dashed off a communication to the Higher Education Authority requesting the authority to inform the Minister of Wrixon's decision to retire.
But the communication never reached its intended target.
The Minister's response to all of this? Let's just say Government ministers like to be kept in the loop.

Related Link:
author by cropbeye - nonepublication date Tue Oct 24, 2006 21:08author email cropbeye at yahoo dot comauthor address Cork Cityauthor phone Report this post to the editors

I thought that this was a string about Gerry Wrixon

the outgoing President of U.C.C who is embroille in controversies

of a financial nature and linking to the good govennance of what is

a constituent part of The National University of Ireland

Why are people squatting here talking about a totally different


author by Stuartpublication date Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is it acceptable practice for one person to steer the privatising reform of a public institution, to lead a private venture partner, to benefit directly from that partnership, to audit the institution's finances and to report in all these roles to a governing body on which he sits? If it is acceptable, then is there any comprehensive register of interests to determine these potentially conflicting roles? What checks and balances are in place to ensure that conflicts of interest are identified and do not inappropriately influence decision-making?

Joe Gantly, the former head of Apple Cork, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the private UCC venture capital technology spin-off company SensL ( (1). Mr Gantly is a UCC governor (a nominee of an unstated external organisation), the chairman of UCC's corporatising UCC Restructuring Steering Group, a member of UCC's Audit Committee, a Director of the Tyndall Institute and a vocal Wrixon supporter. In addition to his many roles at UCC, Joe Gantly is also a Director and Board Member of the Cork Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Cork Airport Authority.

There would appear to be the potential for serious conflicts of interest between Joe Gantly's different roles and, corrupt or not, the perception is that UCC is amassing debt whilst others are making tens of millions from UCC's research efforts. There is also the matter that, according to evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee hearing into UCC's accounts (1 December 2005), (6), UCC had invested a total of 293,000 euro in campus companies spun out of research and did not necessarily choose to maintain a stake in them as these companies turned profitable or were sold. Some of that money was presumably expended on registering patents and maintaining patents essential to those privatising concerns. The very people responsible for maintaining standards of propriety at UCC, who have obstinately rejected any transparency or accountability for their actions, are involved in the privatising agenda they are promoting as executives.

It is also of concern that UCC has no ethical research policy relating to military applications whilst conducting research with clear military potential spun out to venture capital companies and acquired by multinational defense industries, such as the 24 million euro sale of President Wrixon's Farran Technology to the UK's Smiths Group in early 2005. In 1996 customs officers at Heathrow airport seized Farran products illegally destined for something called Defence Electronics Application Laboratory (Deal) in Dehredum, India - a facility connected to India’s missile "defence" programme. The company was found to be in breach of regulations governing the export of dual-use technology: products that can be used for both civilian and military purposes - items that are both defensive and weapons of offence. Farran said it had unintentionally breached the regulations.

SensL - a venture capital success story

SensL is a high technology sensor research group with military, industrial and medical applications. SensL is a private venture capital funded company created to exploit research into photons conducted at the NMRC / Tyndall institute and employs about 15 people. SensL raised 1 million euro in initial funding in late 2004, 500,000 euro in 2005 and 800,000 euro in 2006 through Delta Partners, with further investment from Enterprise Ireland. SensL had a loss of 215,000 euro at the end of 2004 with more than 500,000 euro remaining in shareholders' funds. Joe Gantly joins Joe O'Keeffe, chief commercial officer and former chief operating officer of Nanocomms, another UCC campus company working on biosensors. SensL management includes Chief Technology Officer Carl Jackson (an NMRC PhD graduand), Chief Scientific Officer Alan Mathewson (Assistant Director of the NMRC and Jackson's PhD supervisor) and Operations Manager Liam Wall (another NMRC graduate). (2)

Other campus companies spun out from the NMRC / Tyndall Institute (and its publicly funded 9 million euro Photonics Centre) include: Firecomm, founded by Thomas Moriarty, chief technical officer John Lambkin and Gabriel Crean (the director of the NMRC) with shareholders Enterprise Ireland and Mentor Capital; Nanocomms funded by Mentor; Optical Metrology Innovations (OMI) funded by Mentor; and Farran sold to Smiths Group in 2005 - NMRC / Tyndall staff Dr Sverre Lidholm and co-founder Dr Liam Kelly are believed to have made 3.6 million euro each and President Wrixon 8 million euro. (3, 4 & 5)

Joe Gantly on UCC governance

Joe Gantly was one of the two external governors who tried to have Des Clarke expelled for expressing questions about corporate governance, a move described as disgraceful and disgusting by other governors. Mr Gantly proposed a motion to expel Prof. Desmond Clarke from UCC for making allegedly inappropriate comments about the Victoria Lodge student accommodation development (7). Thus Joe Gantly has played a very significant role in silencing dissent with executive decision-making at University College Cork and in effectively reducing the accountability and transparency of the internal audit system within the university.

Joe Gantly applied for and then withdrew from the new post of head of the Business and Law School at UCC. The selection process for head of the new academic college of Business and Law was derailed when a document "purporting to be an editorial written by Gerard Wrixon" with specific reference to Joe Gantly was circulated to staff through UCC's staff mailing lists. A public presentation by candidates was then cancelled. When candidates were subsequently invited to present to the selection board alone, Mr Gantly withdrew his name from the contest "because of derogatory references to him in the anonymous material" circulated to staff. (8)

John Coleman, president and chief operating officer of the Bose Corporation in the United States, was appointed as Head of College of Business and Law. (9)

Questions for UCC's executive

How much money has been expended on research conducted at the NMRC / Tyndall Institute? What are the annual running costs over recent years? How many doctorates have been completed at the NMRC / Tyndall? How many staff and students are involved in spinout companies? How much money has been spent on patenting research conducted at the NMRC / Tyndall Institute? Who holds the intellectual property rights on each protected area of research conducted at the NMRC / Tyndall Institute?

How much money has UCC gained or lost from its involvement in campus spinout companies?

Is the net expenditure of 293,000 thousand euro noted in the 1 December 2005 PAC hearing an accurate assessment of net outflow of cash from UCC to its spinout companies as of 2002, and how has that position changed?

Is there anywhere a transparent account of all UCC's financial relationships with campus companies?

Further information

1. Gantly appointed chief executive of Sensl Technologies
2. Techno concern raises €1m
3. Losses double at Firecomms despite funding
4. Campus commander
5. Photonics centre to put institute at cutting edge of fibre optic research
6. PAC UCC finances hearing
7. The University Observer
8. Document sent to staff disrupts UCC selection process
9. UCC appoint head of academic school

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author by Alicepublication date Tue Jan 23, 2007 09:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So Joe Gantly decided to withdraw his candidacy as Head of College of Business and Law at almost the same time as President Wrixon's "shock" retirement? (29 May 2006) Would it be too much to ask if there is any other connection than the timing?

`I had NOT!' cried the Mouse, sharply and very angrily.
`A knot!' said Alice, always ready to make herself useful, and looking anxiously about her. `Oh, do let me help to undo it!'
`I shall do nothing of the sort,' said the Mouse, getting up and walking away. `You insult me by talking such nonsense!'
`I didn't mean it!' pleaded poor Alice. `But you're so easily offended, you know!'

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