Two pensions for college lecturer, AIT chief reveals

A third-level lecturer who resigned from Athlone Institute of Technology after breaching his contract by working in two colleges at the same time looks set to receive pensions from both of the schools when he reaches retirement age, it was revealed yesterday evening (Thursday ).

The revelation was made at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee in Dublin.

In March 2007, Athlone Institute of Technology was informed that one of its full-time lecturers, Fergal O'Malley, was also working in NUI Galway.

He was a lecturer in electronic engineering in both Athlone Institute of Technology, and 90km away in the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Between the two jobs he was earning about €170,000 a year as well as building up separate pension entitlements.

An inquiry was held to determine how Mr O'Malley managed to hold down two full-time jobs at the same time.

It is understood that his teaching hours were much greater in Athlone than in Galway, where he was also heavily involved in research. In Athlone, he would have been expected to teach up to 16 hours per week and spend the rest of the working week on preparation, marking, and administrative duties.

In Galway, his teaching commitment was much lower and is understood to have been in single figures. However, he was also engaged in a number of research projects.

He had worked in Galway since 1995 on a contract basis and took up a full-time position in the electronic engineering department of AIT in 1998. He served as head of department on two occasions in Galway during that time.

Mr O'Malley has presented research at several international conferences and was very active in developing new research links/activity with the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering (NCBES ) and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI ), both at NUIG.

After being confronted with the details of the case, he resigned from both posts.

Last night, Fianna Fáil Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked if the man at the centre of the controversy would receive two pensions when he retired.

President of AIT, Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, said legal advice from the college suggested the man - who is in his 40s - was entitled to the pension because he paid into it.

The secretary general of the Department of Education, Brigid McManus, said advice given to NUI Galway was the same. The lecturer did not receive a severance package.

Deputy O’Brien said the man should have been sacked.

However, last evening, the Comptroller and Auditor General, John Buckley, said there was a greater need for transparency surrounding the services by lecturers.

Mr O’Brien also said he has received information that every senior level person at UCD, who is retiring between now and December, will get added years onto their pension.

Speaking at the Committee, he said in some cases the top-ups amount to one sixth of overall service.

Brigid McManus said legal advice suggests that some staff are entitled to the added years.

Deputy O’Brien said it is adding extra cost to the Exchequer, and said the Higher Education Authority should get a handle on it.

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