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Waterford IT chartered €4,200 flight for one person

College spent €134,000 on fine art, €18,400 on flowers and used taxis for round trips between Dublin and Waterford says report.

WATERFORD INSITUTE OF Technology chartered a flight for one person from Waterford to Dublin at a cost of €4,200, according to a report into spending between 2004 and 2011 at the third level college.

The Deloitte and Touche report, which was obtained by thestory.ie under the freedom of information act,  details how the Office of the President spent €134,000 on fine art, €18,400 on flowers and used taxis for round trips between Dublin and Waterford. Prof Kieran Byrne, the president of the college, defended the practice of using taxis for times “when work needed to be done in a discreet environment when travelling”.

But the report says it considers the taxi expenditure is “potentially in breach of the travel policy which requires that such spending is only used when public transport is not available”.

Prof Byrne did not seek formal pre-approval for the travel expenses, as required under the institues travel policy. “He also stated that the taxi was not solely for his own use but was made available to other staff. We have been unable to verify this . . . as the invoices do not contain sufficient detail on the purpose of the journey or the people involved.”

The Union of Students in Ireland said the expenses scandal at WIT highlighted a pattern of “waste and excessive spending in the third level sector” and was not an isolated incident in the third level sector.

“The report on spending in WIT should be shocking to all who read it. However, USI has known for a long time that the findings of the report reflect a pattern of wasteful spending throughout the third level sector” said USI  President John Logue.

A recent report on spending stated that in 2011 Ireland’s universities spent over €1million on room hire and €377,000 on taxis. UCC alone spent €138,000 on taxis for staff during that 12 month period, while Trinity spent €550,000 on room hire, it said.

Prof Byrne, who was on a salary of €156,000 a year, was removed from his position of president at the end of his 10 year term. The move came about after the intervention of the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn and Tom Boland, the chief executive of the Higher Education Authority. He retired on a full pension, but signalled his intention to challenge his removal as president.

He was previously critcised for spending in other areas, including €157,050 on an office and boardroom with two individual kitchenettes.

College president defends expenses on day of re-election vote>

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