The race to become president of Ireland's largest university, UCD, has been delayed by at least a month due to a major legal complication caused by changes to pension laws.
The significant delay in the process to replace Dr Hugh Brady is being seen this weekend as a foul-up, with college sources privately blaming a breakdown in communication with Brendan Howlin's Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the mix-up.
Outside consultants PWC has now been engaged to assist with the selection process for the post, which carries a €200,000-a-year salary.
The foul-up was caused by the introduction of the new Public Service Pensions Act, which came into force on January 1 – after the post of president was first advertised but before the original closing date.
The legislation changes the criteria affecting retirement ages and pension rights and could have excluded potential candidates. The maximum retirement age if you join the public sector is now 70, whereas if you joined between 2004 and 2012 there was no maximum retirement age. Before 2004, the maximum retirement age was 65.
New advertisements have been run in national newspapers this weekend, stating that the "closing date for this position has been extended to allow for detailed clarification of the retirement ages applicable to various categories of potential appointees, including those affected by the Public Service Pensions Act, which came into force on January 1, which was after the date of the original advertisement, but before the original closing date".
The new closing date for applications is noon on Friday, April 5.
According to the UCD website, the salary will be €200,000 if the appointee is a new entrant to the Irish public sector, or is a member of an existing Irish public sector pension scheme and is making an employee pension contribution. Otherwise, the salary is €190,000.
The successor to Dr Brady, who has overseen significant developments on campus, will also be obliged to reside in the university lodge, which was renovated significantly before Dr Brady and his family took up residence in 2004.
One of the supposed front-runners, Prof Peter Clinch, has signalled he will not be a candidate. Prof Clinch, the vice-president for innovation, was a key mover in the UCC/ TCD Innovation Alliance.
Deputy president Mark Rogers and the head of business at UCD, Ciaran O hOgartaigh, are seen as leading contenders.