Noonan sparks fury over 'damaging' comments on University of Limerick
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has been accused of "damaging the reputation" of the University of Limerick after saying it does not have a strong history department.
Professor Anthony McElligott, the college's head of history, said he cannot understand what motivated the minister to "denigrate" his department.
In an interview with local newspaper, the 'Limerick Leader', Mr Noonan said that he intended to donate papers from his time in government to a third- level institution so that historians can study them and write about the economic recovery.
He said it would be "a pity not to", as he had a large collection of Cabinet memos, details of Troika meetings and records of EU discussions.
"There are a lot of good people around, people writing history, at both Trinity and UCD.
"Limerick University has a strong economics department, but it doesn't have a strong history department. But I haven't made up my mind yet," Mr Noonan said.
Prof McElligott has taken exception to the comments.
About 600 students are enrolled in subjects under UL's history department's remit.
"It is damaging to the reputation of my department and to the university more generally.
"We live in a competitive climate; if I were a prospective student and I did not know better but only had Mr Noonan's word to go by, I would not be choosing Limerick but would look elsewhere for a place to study history," he told the Irish Independent.
"He is an elected representative of the city and its constituents interests, and this includes the history department and UL.
"As our local TD, I and my colleagues will be more than willing to welcome Mr Noonan to Ireland's youngest department of history if it will help him 'make up his mind'," Prof McElligot said.
A spokesman for Mr Noonan did not reply to queries.
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