- Vice-President’s spending on international travel, transport and restaurant dining amounts to almost €14,000 since 2018.
By Valerie McHugh & Paddy Henry
Spending between the President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and Vice-President and Registrar Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh has amounted to €22,173.10 over the last three years, according to documents released to SIN under the Freedom of Information Act.
Professor Ó hÓgartaigh receives an annual salary of €201,155 per annum, while Vice-President Professor Pól Ó Dochartaigh takes home a yearly rate of €165,406.
Professor Ó Dochartaigh, who has been in the role since 2014, during the Presidential tenures of both Professor Ó hOgartaigh and Dr Jim Browne, claimed €13,979.10 over the three year period.
Foreign travel took up a substantial proportion of Ó Dochartaigh’s expenditure with claims from trips to Ljubljana, Potsdam, London and Canada included on the Vice-Presidential tab.
The Languages Professor’s Canadian exploits saw him run up a bill of €1,525.28 on a trip to the Jewish Public Library in Montreal.
Also included in the Vice-President’s spending since 2018 was mileage costs, public and private transport and restaurant dining.
A spokesperson for NUI Galway said that Mr Ó Dochartaigh’s expenses were consistent with the fulfilment of his role and that with his research into the representation of Jewish people in Irish literature;
“The Deputy President and Registrar incurred expenses in the normal course of carrying out his role, largely for transport and mileage in order to attend conferences and meetings and for official engagement with colleagues across the further and higher education sector regionally, nationally and overseas.
“While working as Deputy President and Registrar, Professor Ó Dochartaigh continues to pursue important research on representations of Jews in Irish literature. On the back of that he was invited to give a lecture at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal to mark Bloomsday 2019 as part of an ongoing engagement with the Irish Studies team in Concordia University, which includes the hosting of an international conference planned for next year at NUI Galway.” they said.
Professor Ciaran Ó hÓgartaigh, who assumed the role of President in 2018, spent €4,158.08 in his first year in office including over €1,300 on public and private transport over his first 12 months in office alone.
One such example of transport spending saw €200 accrued on two taxi fares on the same day during a trip to the British Irish Chamber of Commerce in May.
Travel expenses claimed by the President increased in 2019 to a sum of €2101.41 and included claims from trips to China.
Additionally over €2,000 was spent on Irish public and private mileage costs in 2019.University mileage expenses are calculated using the Irish Car Mileage Rate per Mile algorithm, which sees those on University business entitled to claim 37.95 cent per kilometre on trips equal to 5,500 kilometres or less than 5,500 kilometres and 21.36 cents on journeys longer than that.
In 2019, the University was engulfed in a Presidential expenses scandal which revealed that Ó hÓgartaigh’s predecessor Dr Jim Browne spent over €100,000 on business-class international travel, cross-country taxi trips and luxury hotel accommodation through expenses claimed through the University’s official fundraising charity, the Galway University Foundation.
“While working as Deputy President and Registrar, Professor Ó Dochartaigh continues to pursue important research on representations of Jews in Irish literature. On the back of that he was invited to give a lecture at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal to mark Bloomsday 2019 as part of an ongoing engagement with the Irish Studies team in Concordia University, which includes the hosting of an international conference planned for next year at NUI Galway.”
The exorbitant spending was deemed as being “inconsistent” by the charity’s regulator at the time. The former President’s spending included thousands of euros incurred in the name of Dr Browne’s wife, including over €7,965 on flights.
Students’ Union President Pádraic Toomey emphasised the importance that expenditure from people in public office is monitored, telling SIN;
“It’s really important that we keep an eye on the expenditure of people who are on the public purse. It’s very important that we make sure that they’re not overspending.”
What €22,173.10 could get you at NUI Galway?
- A single bedroom in Corrib Village for four years, with a handsome €2,073 left over
- The payment of the new student levy of €140 for 158 students, with a leftover €53.10
- The payment of the €295 repeat exam fee for 75 students, and a remaining sum €48.10
- The cost incurred by the University to hold in-person repeat exams for 2,019 students, with a remainder of €4.48
- A one-year student membership for the Kingfisher Gym for 88 students with additional €173.10 left in your pocket.