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UCC enquiry "inflammatory"

category cork | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday November 16, 2006 13:44author by Stuart Report this post to the editors

Process already brought into question

Professor Enda McDonagh, the Chairman of the Governing Body of UCC, has announced the identity and remit of the "external and independent" person to review allegations of "corruption", financial mismanagement and bullying at the university. In a move that seems destined to delay rather than supplant a formal enquiry, the remit is to exclude all issues that have already been put before the Governing Body and to include input from Professor Michael Shattock, a co-author of the OECD Report on Higher Education in Ireland that is central to UCC's own restructuring plans ( The oversight of the review process by the very people either involved in, or investigating, the excluded allegations would appear to generate the potential for significant conflicts of interest. UCC Restructuring Plans Restructuring Discussion UCC News Articles

An external and independent person appointed by UCC

Following discussions between Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin, the Higher Education Authority and representatives of the Governing Body at University College Cork, it was agreed that the university would be permitted to appoint its own choice of an "external and independent" person to review recent controversies that have received considerable public attention. Mary Hanafin has stated that "appointing a visitor at this stage would be taking the allegations too seriously" and that she hopes this lesser enquiry will "clear up" the issues.

The appointee has been announced as John Malone, a civil servant and former general secretary of the Department of Agriculture, with assistance from Michael Shattock, co-author of the OECD Report on Higher Education, and Jim Port, a British consultant.

Limited remit

The remit of the enquiry excludes the allegations already "considered" by the governing body, although it will include a review of the inquiry processes.

It has been claimed that this appointment and remit were agreed by the governing body after consultation with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and Mary Hanafin, although the recommendation was made by Professor McDonagh who was subsequently unavailable for comment or discussion, saying that he would not be contactable "over the next day or so" and that no reply would be taken as consent.

Given the limitations of the remit, there should be little difficulty in producing an interim report within the tight timescale of 12th December.

Members of the Governing Body including Prof Clarke have expressed unhappiness with the appointment, the remit and the timescale, saying it does not excuse the government from its responsibility for a full and formal investigation with legal authority.

Previous investigation

It is worth revisiting the manner in which the allegations placed before the Governing Body have been previously "considered". Spokespeople from the Department of Education and UCC management have said that the HEA has previously found no merit in the allegations. Former Minister for Education Noel Dempsey stated quite explicitly that "I recently requested a comprehensive report from the Higher Education Authority which is now to hand. On the basis of this report and all the available supporting documentation, and having regard to the provisions of the Universities Act, I am satisfied that there is no basis for the appointment of a visitor to UCC" in July 2004.

The reality is far more circuitous, "many of the allegations made by Prof Des Clarke of financial mismanagement at UCC had been made before and it referred them to the HEA which in turn referred them to the UCC's governing body, which had found them to be groundless" [The Irish Times, 30 September 2006]. President Wrixon has said that "there isn’t a single instance where any of the allegations he has made have found the university has acted wrongly in any way" and that "these views have already been expressed to the governing body, Government ministers and State agencies, and been found to have no merit" and that he would not highlight all the "factual errors" in Prof Clarke’s letter - which, of course, is exactly what any competent enquiry would have done.

The Chief Executive of the HEA Tom Boland has written “I can confirm that the HEA has not carried out an inquiry into the allegations and any reports to the contrary are incorrect.” So how were the excluded allegations previously "investigated" or "considered"?

Conflict of interest

Rather surprisingly, according to Professor Clarke's open letter of 28 Sept 2006 "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?"

It seems somewhat surprising that Professor Emeritus of Moral Theology Enda McDonagh, Chairman of the Governing Body at UCC, widely regarded as a man of integrity and honesty, should place himself in a position where there is even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Yet he is the original investigator who dismissed the allegations and the individual appointing the "external and independent" reviewer, taking no response from his fellow governors as an acceptance of his decisions.

Serious allegations

The allegations that have previously been "considered" and dismissed by UCC's Governing Body are by no means trivial. Prof Clarke has claimed corruption in making appointments, breaches of the law, of university statutes and of regulations, intimidation and bullying of staff, concerns about the use of public monies and the university’s “unsustainable” debts and a general failure of governance. In addition to allegations of widespread bullying throughout the staff hierarchy, two senior administrative staff in UCC, along with a third who resigned recently, have made allegations of bullying and intimidation against President Wrixon and other senior executives.

Whilst this rumpus is bound to run on to UCC's detriment until a competent and transparent investigation provides an accountable response, it seems President Wrixon will be able to retire somewhat peacefully without having to account for his actions. The Irish Times in particular has provided a platform to spin Wrixon's views and deny any response. A paen to Wrixon's reputation from President Emeritus of the University of Limerick Ed Walsh contained poisonous remarks about former UCC President Michael Mortell, who demanded a full right of reply. The Irish Times refused, offering the opportunity to submit a letter to the editor, until the intervention of Readers' Representative Paul Gillespie forced the editorial hand.

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author by Observerpublication date Thu Nov 16, 2006 15:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It would be a lot better for all concerned to go ahead with a full enquiry rather than backpedal like crazy, which is what seems to be happening. The game of reducing the remit until there is virtually nothing to consider is one that UCC is very adept in.

author by Stuartpublication date Sat Nov 18, 2006 12:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The "foundation board of UCC" has called on all parties to refrain from all public comment about allegations relating to UCC and to President Gerry Wrixon. The board asks that all allegations be dealt with through "the university's own structures and university legislation", in particular the "external and independent" review procedure established by the board.

However, the foundation board is a voluntary group that was appointed appointed by the principal defendant, President Wrixon. The board is not a part of the university's structures. The board is not provided for in university legislation. The board is recommending a review process that has no legal foundation, that was established to examine allegations against President Wrixon.

The boundaries of credibility have already been stretched by the claims that the review was "agreed by the governing body" and "approved by the Higher Education Authority". And by the considerable publicity surrounding allegations that have already been "considered" by the relevant structures without any hint of resolution.

Board calls for end to bitter exchanges at UCC An influential group which includes senior business figures, a former attorney general and a former president of the European Parliament, have called for an end to bitter exchanges at UCC, which it says are damaging the reputation of the college.

Members of the board include former MEP Pat Cox, former Attorney General Dermot Gleeson and several prominent business figures. We can only hope that the current "external and independent" review does provides an impartial, transparent and accountable response to the many very serious allegations in circulation.

author by Stuartpublication date Sun Nov 19, 2006 10:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Sunday Independent reports that the UCC foundation board of "political and business heavyweights" was only recently announced with the intention (according to commentators) of meddling in college affairs in a "farcical and ridiculous" attempt to silence all further debate.

Rather embarrassingly, "the college admitted that the press release sent out by the Foundation Board 'overstated' the problems at the college, and said that the board members have no in-depth knowledge of the allegations hanging over the college.... They don't have a full understanding of what is going on, nor should they have. They are looking at the big picture."

An allegorical expression relating visiting and alehouse supplier to sample their wares seems apt.

author by Enquirypublication date Thu Nov 23, 2006 13:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

People with genuine grievances about University College Cork could direct them in person to Mr John Malone at the Hayfield Manor Hotel, Perrott Avenue, Cork. He is using the Hayfield Manor Hotel as an office.

All those who wish to make representations to him should direct them to him, and should ignore the UCC filtering system in operation.

author by Stuartpublication date Sun Nov 26, 2006 20:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

UCC has reached the point where it cannot escape unscathed.

The "external and independent" review into allegations about UCC will have a hard job proving itself, as claimed by GB Chairman Enda McDonagh, "completely above board and independent beyond question".

The remit of the external and independent review excludes all matters which have previously been "considered" by the Governing Body as well as all matters which may become the subject of litigation involving the university. The remit therefore excludes the majority of the serious matters which are now public knowledge - in light of which Des Clarke's refusal to collude with a review conducted by the investigated party's appointee within a scope determined by the investigated party seems a rational course.

Of course any enquiry, even under the current circumstances, is capable of fairness and am objective, transparent and accountable outcome. Previous "considerations" of these issues have fulfilled none of these criteria whilst questionably invoking the authorities of the Higher Education Authority and Education Ministry.

Objectivity requires the assessment of all allegations without reference to personalities, authority, preceding "consideration" or the fear of possible litigation
Transparency requires that the response to allegations is available for any legitimate inspection - in this case probably publication on request
Accountability requires that those making allegations may question the outcome, the manner in which it has been derived or, most significantly, its ommission from the remit, and any questions are handled transparently

University's whistleblower snubs inquiry

author by Stuartpublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 16:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There could be more than one such person, but "Dr ****" could well refer to my former colleague in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Colin Thunhurst, who falsely used the title of Doctor from at least 1999 without holding the qualification, with numerous references available by a simple search:

In addition to teaching undergraduates and postgraduates, he also supervised PhD research, lead the Postgraduate Studies Board and conducted staff evaluations. He was falsely described as a Doctor in grant applications and research publications - e.g. the Health Research Board funded project "Health and Environmental Effects of Landfilling and Incineration of Waste – A Literature Review" (2003)

He was falsely described as a Doctor to students in the Student Handbook, the timetable, his own online biography and the departmental listing

Colin Thunhurst did obtain a PhD in "the problem structuring methods of operational research ( from the department he worked for in 2004, which begs the question of who in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health was sufficiently qualified and experienced in Operational Research to supervise and examine his thesis? Why was he allowed to falsely claim a qualification for at least five years?

author by M Cottonpublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 17:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

According to the FUCC website the announcement of the new UCC President has been put back to Thursday 21st December. So, both the outcome of the 'inquiry' and the appointment will be a done deal by the time everyone gets their legs back under their desks in Jan.

Well, this is one person among thousands whose attention span will outlast that little manoeuver. What is Hannafin playing at? Does she want to alienate every single academic in Ireland just in time for the election? The shocking thing is how much we all know she knows about all of this - her, Bertie, Dempsey and hosts of others have every reason to distinguish themselves by doing the right thing by UCC. For Hannafin to state, as she has, that it 'would be to take Professor Clarke's allegations too seriously' to appoint an independent Visitor is a clear statement of the outcome her so called 'inquiry' has been detailed to arrive at. FF contempt for the intelligence of ordinary people knows no bounds, does it? Of course it is Wrixon's asinine beligerence that has walked the whole sorry lot of them into this mess - and no one it seems had the nous to call a halt to his extravagant histrionics before it all got so badly out of hand. This fiasco of a cover up goes on Hannafin's record and can be added to the extensivley tarnished reputation of the current FF/PD administration. Des Clarke is right to boycott their farcical 'inquiry'.

The UCC story is the story of what is happening throughout NUI - the covert takeover of third level educational institutions by corporate raiders within a context that is by and large outside of the ordinary rule of law. That legal independence was designed originally to protect the pursuit of knowledge and education from state interference but it has been appropriated and corrupted from within, instead. Everything this government touches goes the same way: it is devouring every shred of public access to democracy and the stupefied and inert citizens of Ireland are 'not interested' in what is being done to them under their noses.

author by Disenfranchised and Disillusionedpublication date Sat Dec 16, 2006 15:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So the new board of UCC is now elected, ready for the new President - although the outgoing President may yet select some external governors of his own persuasion.

The new elected members are:- Professors/Associate Professors: Ciaran Michael Murphy, Bridget Mary Caroline Fennell, Grace Neville, Patrick Thomas O'Donovan and either (by lot) James Joseph Alexander Heffron or Anita Rose Maguire. Academic Staff: Helen Pauline Whelton, Piaras MacÉinrí, Michael Delargey, Ciaran McCullagh and Norma Ryan. Staff (other than academic): Mary Agnes Steele, Francis Gerard McGrath and Michael Farrell. Graduate Elections: Eleanor Anne O'Leary, Domhnall Nollaig Ó Donnabháin and Diarmuid Seán Mac Cárthaigh.

It remains to be seen if the new regime is more receptive to complaints about serious misconduct within UCC. Prof Murphy is an establishment force on the VHI Board, Cork Chamber of Commerce, Cork Airport Board, the Technology Foresight Fund, Health Service Executive Board and chairman of the Health Research Board.

Two other winners have written to the Irish Times saying all is well (and very, very cheap!) in Wrixon's regime: the fragrant Dr Neville wrote: "I wish to state that your account of UCC as a place overwhelmed by 'fear and loathing' is not one I recognise. You gloss over in a few lines major stories such as UCC's research record and the rising number of student applications to UCC this year in order, yet again, to blow out of all proportions what is essentially a side-show. Instead of rehashing old articles in yet another cut-and-paste job, you might instead focus the considerable dissecting skills of The Irish Times on some of the real issues in education." while Prof Heffron wrote "It is very regrettable that the Minister for Education continues to berate the universities about accountability, quality, cost of third-level education and access for the disadvantaged. On the contrary he should be praising them for the low cost per graduate and high degree standards: our tuition costs are half that in the United Kingdom and one fifth that in the United States, and it is widely acknowledged that the standards of the degrees of the main universities are comparable with the best internationally."

A loser in the graduate elections, Dr Rosarii Griffin has a different impression: "Indeed, following my first governing body meeting, I was called aside by another Governor who said to me, ‘I’m sure you must be an intelligent woman, but in here, we all follow the President’. So insulted was I that I called over the President and said, ‘President, I would hate to think that I spent so many years in UCC developing my critical faculties, only to arrive at a point in time in here to be told that I’m not allowed use them, would it be that this is the case?’ President Wrixon quickly assured me that it was not the case, and I was satisfied with that. However, unfortunately, the reality was not to appear like that." (and more at

UCC has been widely described as characterised by "Personality clashes and infighting amongst staff contributed to the fetid atmosphere" in which "In an astonishing letter which has been seen by the Irish Independent, the Secretary/Bursar of University College Cork, Michael Kelleher complained to President Gerry Wrixon about the manner in which he and another senior colleague had been treated on the previous day." No wonder that most Governing Body members are not on record saying anything of note, especially the appointed members who benefit from the position without any responsibility or any consequence from their inaction.

University College Cork, in true ivory tower fashion, stopped recording press comment about itself back in August 2004

author by Stuartpublication date Thu Dec 21, 2006 13:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Governing Body of University College Cork has today (21st December 2006) appointed Professor Michael B Murphy (53), currently Head of the College of Medicine and Health at UCC, as President of the University with effect from 1st February 2007.

Related Link:,27085,en.html
author by Stuartpublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 09:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Irish Times appeared to have received the full interim report of Mr John Malone's review and quoted it on Tuesday (Teacher's Pet (The Irish Times, 30/01/2007): Broadly, the report will be welcomed by the Wrixonites. There is some mild criticism of the manner in which the governing authority was by-passed on some decisions. Wrixon, meanwhile, will retire to enjoy the millions he secured from a business deal some years ago.) and now confirm this with a full article on the issue - coinciding with the change of President yesterday.

Inquiry clears ex-UCC head of corruption.
An inquiry into allegations levelled against the former University College Cork (UCC) president Gerry Wrixon has found no evidence of corruption or breaches of the law.
The 20-page report says there has been "no material breach of law, statutes or ordinances either financially or corporately there is no evidence of corruption".
John Malone, the former secretary general of the Department of Agriculture and Food, who conducted the inquiry, said the allegations made against Prof Wrixon did not merit the appointment of a visitor or senior investigator by the Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin.
The report is critical of Prof Wrixon's management style and his poor personal relations with some key personnel. There was a very strong focus on results and implementing change but much less on people affected by these changes, it says.
Mr Malone is critical of UCC's governing authority which, he says, failed to act as an effective counterweight to a powerful president like Prof Wrixon. The report criticises Prof Wrixon's tendency to bypass some structures - including the academic council - in his decision-making.
There is some evidence, it says, of some "hasty decision-making in a highly ambitious change agenda" environment. But overall, it says, these deficiencies do not amount to mismanagement. But the report also says the success of UCC in recent years is a tribute to the "energy and vision" of Prof Wrixon.
The inquiry examined over 50 allegations made by Prof Des Clarke of UCC in a letter to Ms Hanafin. But the Malone report rejects his allegation that UCC is an academic Enron waiting to happen because it is financially unstable. Prof Clarke did not co-operate with the inquiry.
The Malone inquiry concludes that UCC's debt will need to be carefully managed by the new president, Prof Michael Murphy, but it says the debt is not a threat to the college.
The report praises the "energy and vision" of Prof Wrixon which has helped transform UCC into one of the most successful third-level colleges in the State. But poor personal relations on the campus between key decision makers created tension and animosity, it notes. Prof Wrixon retired as president this week; Prof Michael Murphy took office yesterday.
Mr Malone was assisted in his inquiry by two international experts, Prof Michael Shattock of the OECD, and Dr Jim Port, an independent consultant on higher education issues.
Prof Shattock was a member of the OECD team which prepared the landmark 2004 report on third-level education in the Republic. Dr Port was recently appointed by Ms Hanafin to examine the merits of a university in Waterford.
The Malone report will be presented to the UCC governing authority next week.
Prof Clarke, who is due to retire shortly, has been sceptical of the Malone inquiry which was commissioned by the UCC governing authority two months ago.
At the time, Prof Clarke said: "I think it's completely unacceptable because the governing body is effectively appointing the person to investigate concerns about the governing body itself . I'm not assuming that anyone is going to find in my favour or anyone else's favour but you can't have people picking their own jury."

So the report 1) may alienate governors if they see the findings in the papers first; 2) praises Wrixon's "vision and energy" in a manner that may be perceived as partial; 3) criticizes the governing body for having been bypassed by a forceful President.

author by pat cpublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is similar to a Garda inquiry into Garda actions. The most that will come out is mild criticism. The truth will not emerge until a truly independent investigation is carried out. One that is commissioned by the UCD authorities cannot be regarded as independent.

author by Pierre Joseph Proudhon - Bullying of Academics in Higher Educationpublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 21:58author address www.bulliedacademics.blogspot.comauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Applies (in theory) to the UK, but would be interesting to know if something similar exists in Ireland.
The Seven Principles of Public Life - Higher and Further Education

From: Summary of Nolan Committee's Second Report (1996)

Summary of the Nolan Committee's First Report on Standards in Public Life

Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

These principles apply to all aspects of public life. The Committee has set them out here for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way.

Higher and Further Education

The systems of governance in the higher and further education sectors reflect both the origins of the institutions and of recent legislation. The 'old' universities are governed by charter or specific Act of Parliament. Former polytechnics became 'new' universities as a result of the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act, which also set down the system of governance for further education institutions. In addition to providing resources, funding councils for the sectors have a role in regulation and dissemination of best practice.

Many of the institutions have evolved systems of governance over many years and it would require evidence of substantial misconduct to justify sweeping changes. We received no such evidence. However, we urge institutions to review their practices and procedures in the light of best practice identified in this report. We believe it is particularly important for institutions to follow best practice in limiting the use made of commercial confidentiality and in explaining themselves to their communities.

While the principle of academic freedom is applicable to the right of individuals to pursue research and express opinions without political pressure, it does not justify a lower level of accountability for higher education institutions. Our recommendations on confidentiality clauses, appeals, disputes and whistleblowing tackle those aspects of academic freedom which are relevant to our terms of reference.

R3. Appointments to the governing bodies of universities and colleges should be made on the basis of merit, subject to the need to achieve a balance of relevant skills and backgrounds on the board.

R4. The automatic representation of the TECs and LECs on college governing bodies should be ended.

R5. Individual universities and colleges should be encouraged to set out key information to a common standard in their annual reports or equivalent documents where they do not already do so. Material on governance should be included in the annual reports or equivalents of further and higher education institutions. Representative bodies should take the lead in promoting this with the support of the funding councils.

R6. Representative bodies, with the help of the funding councils, should produce a common standard of good practice on the limits of commercial confidentiality, and should encourage all institutions to be as open as possible subject to those limits. All institutions should have publicly available registers of interests.

R7. Institutions of higher and further education should make it clear that the institution permits staff to speak freely and without being subject to disciplinary sanctions or victimisation about academic standards and related matters, providing that they do so lawfully, without malice, and in the public interest.

R8. Where it is absolutely necessary to include confidentiality clauses in service and severance contracts, they should expressly remind staff that legitimate concerns about malpractice may be raised with the appropriate authority (the funding council, National Audit Office, Visitor, or independent review body as applicable) if this is done in the public interest.

R9. Students in higher education institutions should be able to appeal to an independent body, and this right should be reflected in the Higher Education Charters.

R10. The higher education funding councils, institutions, and representative bodies should consult on a system of independent review of disputes. A similar process of consultation should be undertaken by the equivalent further education bodies.

R11. The Secretary of State for Education and Employment should re-examine the practice of appointing vice-chancellors and principals of English institutions to the board of HEFCE to determine whether an alternative exists, which avoids perceived conflicts of interest, and to ensure that existing rules protect against any potential conflict of interest as the council is presently constituted.

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author by Upliftedpublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 22:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What an uplifting post! No, there are no such principles in common circulation nor in use governing public life in Ireland. Collective amnesia and loss of documentary evidence dominates our tribunals of enquiry, in which only the deceased (including former heads of government) are conclusively declared to have transgressed - the living (including current heads of government) can attribute untraceable income to gifts upon their first holy communion.

The adherence of the executive of University College Cork to principles of selfless, objective, accountable, open and honest display of leadership and integrity (or indeed any principles) is discussed at

author by Stuartpublication date Sat Feb 03, 2007 09:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Irish Examiner, 3rd of February, appear to have a different take on the same text. They appear to have received it later - maybe from another source? - and do not share the Irish Times unwholesomely uncritical regard for everything at University College Cork:

Report highlights ‘mistrust and animosity’ at UCC
By Niall Murray, Education Correspondent

PERSONAL mistrust and animosity were common at management level in University College Cork during Professor Gerry Wrixon’s presidency, an inquiry carried out for UCC’s governing body revealed.
The report also found some of the structural changes at UCC, prompted by Prof Wrixon, may have been introduced too quickly to accommodate all the college’s key staff.
John Malone, ex-secretary general at the Department of Agriculture and author of the report, noted that there was no corruption and no statutory review was required.
However, he concluded there was truth in some of the allegations probed.
Mr Malone had been engaged by UCC’s governing body in November last to inquire into about 50 allegations made last summer by governing body member Professor Des Clarke.
Many of the allegations concerned UCC president Prof Wrixon’s management of the college and, in particular, the levels of debt that had been allowed to accumulate.
The report effectively cleared UCC management and Prof Wrixon, who retired on Wednesday last, of any wrongdoing which might have merited the appointment by Education Minister Mary Hanafin of a High Court judge to investigate matters.
This is a situation that had previously been sought by Prof Clarke.
The report will be presented next Tuesday to the newly-elected governing body, which will forward the findings to the Higher Education Authority (HEA).
Mr Malone is understood to have found that a number of allegations were correct but that all of them were of a minor nature.
However, when considered collectively, he believed that some of them give a very poor impression of the university.
He found that some of the issues would not have created difficulties in any other environment but that they became more serious due to the high level of mistrust and animosity between individuals within the college.
Mr Malone also referred to poor personal relationships and mistrust between senior personnel at UCC during Prof Wrixon’s eight-year term and questioned why the governing body did not always act as a counterweight to the president in the decision-making process.
Despite some of these criticisms, the report also credits Prof Wrixon and his management team for expanding UCC’s small landlocked campus and their ability to attract high levels of non-State funding.
While recognising the ambitious changes undertaken structurally in recent years, the report finds that some of these changes may have been introduced without enough time to bring everyone along with them.
It also concluded that the estimated 60 million debt at UCC, while not posing a threat to its operation, will have to be carefully managed by Prof Wrixon’s successor Prof Michael Murphy.
Sources suggest the governing body is likely to accept the findings and its recommendations before forwarding it to the HEA.
The HEA will then give its formal conclusion to the Minister for Education Ms Hanafin.
It will then be up to her to decide whether or not to appoint a visitor, as she can do under the 1997 Universities Act, but Mr Malone’s conclusion that no law or college statute was breached suggests such a move is unlikely.

It makes you wonder what would have been made of the allegations that were excluded from the review because of the threat of litigation, the allegations that were excluded because they had already been "considered" by the accused and the "allegations of bullying against a number of senior administrators, including outgoing president Prof Gerry Wrixon" that were excluded in disputed circumstances ("the governing body was unable to progress matters further and felt it had no option but to dismiss the complaints on the basis only of non-engagement by the three complainants").

These unaddressed issues will surely resurface with increased force.

author by Stuartpublication date Mon Feb 05, 2007 13:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

MediaBite has a lengthy article on the divergent Irish Times / Irish Examiner reporting of the review, and its perceived bias towards Wrixon's perspective of events in all of its reporting of the "corruption" issues:

author by From the HEApublication date Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Higher Education Authority has submitted an incredibly mendacious letter to the Irish Times questioning an earlier report by Mary Raftery, "Minister's blind eye in UCC row" of 8 February in which it was clear that the earlier leaked report by Sean Flynn was a misleading representation of the investigation. (

Perhaps the HEA could substantiate the following:

* A partial interpretation of the investigator's report was leaked directly to the Irish Times by UCC;
* The investigator was selected by Professor McDonagh and imposed on the governing body;
* The investigator's remit was restricted to allegations selected by UCC;
* Witnesses were rejected by the investigator because their evidence was "outside his remit";
* UCC is currently engaged in intensive pay-off talks to "settle" witnesses evidence;
* The unanswered allegations will now be buried along with Gerard Wrixon.

The HEA has previously colluded with the Department for Education and UCC in preventing examination of allegations against the college, to the point that Tom Boland was forced to admit that "I can confirm that the HEA has not carried out an inquiry into the allegations and any reports to the contrary are incorrect” (20 October 2006) so collusion in the ongoing denial is no surprise. (

Are these the "strong, clear and open mechanisms of oversight and accountability" the HEA subscribes to?

Row at University College Cork
Madam, - In her column of February 8th Mary Raftery suggested that the review of allegations relating to University College Cork was unsatisfactory and argued for the appointment of a visitor.
The article raises the wider issue as to whether due process and the public interest are best served by this kind of public comment on a leaked report. Leaving that aside, the article was misleading.
A visitor can be appointed to a university only after a number of hurdles are crossed - hurdles put in place to protect university autonomy. First, the Minister must believe on reasonable grounds that a university is acting illegally. A Minister could hardly reach that view solely on the basis of uncorroborated allegations.
The appointment of a person to review the allegations is reasonable due process in establishing if that first hurdle has been crossed.
UCC did not "control the selection" of Mr John Malone. The university and the Higher Education Authority agreed a process to review the allegations. Mr Malone was appointed following consultation with the HEA. The HEA has full confidence in his independence and expertise.
A visitor has no powers to "force compliance". The powers are to enter a university, inspect records, etc, and be given all reasonable co-operation. The HEA is satisfied that, as part of the agreed process, Mr Malone was given access to all relevant records and all relevant persons co-operated fully with him - except, as noted by Ms Raftery, the author of the allegations.
The governing body will now consider his report and refer it to the HEA with their views. The HEA will, in turn, advise the Minister.
The HEA takes very seriously its role in ensuring that there are "strong, clear and open mechanisms of oversight and accountability" in universities. The process put in place by the Governing Body of UCC, and agreed by the HEA, is a demonstration of the commitment to such mechanisms by the university and the HEA. - Yours, etc,
GERRY O'SULLIVAN, Head of Information, Higher Education Authority, Shelbourne Road, Dublin 4.

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