Mary Harney Says ‘Good News’ About UL’s Purchase of €8M Dunnes Property Now ‘Residing in Controversy’

The Chancellor of the University of Limerick (UL) and former Tánaiste Mary Harney said that a “really good story” was “controversial” in college.

L has been embroiled in controversy after it was revealed that the university paid €8million for a former Dunnes Stores unit in Limerick city centre, despite no record of a formal appraisal of the site.

Ms Harney told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that she “regrets” the “really good story” that has been ruined by controversy.

“Because [it was] Really good story when we got that location within the university, but it was so well received in Limerick that now the university would come to the city and set up a campus on that site.

“Since the FOI and the knowledge that there was no written report, there has unfortunately been a lot of controversy here this morning. And I very much regret that, as do my colleagues.”

The university management commissioned a sales report, which was carried out by KPMG, but was not published due to legal advice.

The college’s newly appointed rector, Kerstin Mey, told TDs that she saw the report but did not publish it because of “legal advice”.

Ms. Harney, who is also the chair of the university’s government agency, said she had not seen the report, nor had any of the other members of the agency.

She said the issue of the report is raised at each board meeting, which is held on average once a month.

“There’s no one but me and the governing body, I can assure you – it’s said at every meeting, ‘Why can’t we see this report? Why can’t we publish it? Why can’t we put this controversy behind us?’” she told Fianna Fáil TD Cormac Devlin.

The committee also heard that Ms Harney has a role at KPMG, where she is chair of the Public Interests Committee, and she said KPMG made that clear to UL before they conducted the review.

Independent TD Verona Murphy requested publication of correspondence surrounding the procurement process.

Ms. Harney also announced that Ms. Mey had received an apology from Secretary of State for Further Education and Higher Education Simon Harris following media reports that funding of €2 million from his department to UL had been suspended.

“We found out about this from a media outlet last Thursday, which I find very unfortunate. We were completely blind,” she told Labor TD Seán Sherlock.

“We first heard that we had been approved for the scholarship and we also heard in the same call for applications that it had been paused. That’s not the way to do business and it has blinded us.

“It hurts our relationships,” she said.

“I know the President has been called by the Minister for Higher Education to apologize for the leak. He doesn’t know how it happened.

“But I hope that we can work with the minister and get these funds paid out to the university as soon as possible.” Mary Harney Says ‘Good News’ About UL’s Purchase of €8M Dunnes Property Now ‘Residing in Controversy’

Fry Electronics Team

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