WIT takes legal action against former president

Waterford Institute of Technology has begun legal proceedings against its former president for the repayment of almost €120,000 in personal expenses.

Professor Kieran Byrne, who served as President of WIT from 2001 to 2011, is alleged to have spent vast sums of money on a variety of personal privileges such as flights, books and hospitality.

Three separate investigations were conducted into expenditure at WIT, which found Byrne’s office had spent €184,000 on fine art and a further €18,400 on flowers. The investigations also revealed that the President’s Office spent a total of €290,000 on hospitality, along with €263,000 on travel.

Financial services firm Deloitte highlighted a total of €368,000 in expenses that were insufficiently documented. Following a detailed analysis by WIT, it was determined that the former president was liable to repay almost €120,000 to the college.

During his tenure as president, Byrne earned a salary of €154,000 per annum and retired on a full pension. In 2000, non-salary expenditure in the President’s Office was around €30,000, and by 2008, that figure had increased by more that twenty times to €634,308. The Office’s non-salary related expenditure from 2006 to 2010 totalled €2.66 million.

In one particular case, Byrne is alleged to have flown one-way from Waterford to Dublin at a cost of €4,200 to the Institute. He also failed to seek formal pre-approval for his travel expenses, as is normal college policy.

When contacted by The College View, WIT Students’ Union was unwilling to comment on the issue, as the legal case is proceeding. SU President Stephen O’Rourke did, however, say that both he and the WIT Students’ Union were keeping a close eye on proceedings.

It is understood Byrne will be contesting the case.

Darragh McGrath

Image Credit: William Murphy via Flickr / Creative Commons

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