Monday 27 February 2017

UCD chief racks up a huge travel bill of €100,000

Taxpayer funded college head's globetrotting

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter EXCLUSIVE

Five-star accommodation, lavish dinners in exclusive restaurants, golf at the K Club, business class flights around the world -- all part and parcel of the working life of the president of Ireland's largest university, University College Dublin (UCD), and all paid for by the Irish taxpayer.

According to figures obtained by the Sunday Independent under the Freedom of Information Act, Dr Hugh Brady -- who is paid €220,000 a year -- criss-crossed the globe as he wined and dined prospective donors from America, Canada, South Korea and China as well as attending degree ceremonies.

Dr Brady's total bill for flights between 2005 and 2010 was €97,737 -- the vast majority of it business class.

Last year the taxpayer paid €7,642 for Dr Brady's flights between Dublin and Shanghai and Beijing, where he attended a number of conferences.

On one trip to Beijing, he clocked up a €1,247 bill at the five-star Hyatt hotel. He also visited Seoul, South Korea, in February last year at a cost of €3,387. On one trip to New York, Dr Brady's flights cost a total €2,851.

A further €2,072 was spent on accommodation and dinner at the five-star Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Dr Brady was attending a American Ireland Fund Symposium and also meeting "US philanthropic prospects".

Also included in his trips to the US was a €1,251 bill for dinner and accommodation in the Fairfax hotel, Washington DC, in 2009; a €1,210 bill at the Marriott hotel, New York; a €740 hotel bill during trip to Harvard; €1,889 on a trip to American Ireland Fund in Boston; a €2,405 bill for a hotel and American Ireland fund dinner in Florida; and a €1,486 bill at Renaissance Hotel, Washington DC. On one trip to Philadelphia in 2008 Dr Brady paid €447 for dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel.

In 2005, €5,195 went on business class flights to Auckland, New Zealand, where he attended a networking conference. Dr Brady also made regular trips to London and stayed at the four-star Cavendish Hotel. There were several accommodation bills but the most expensive was €733 for accommodation and food there.

UCD's current budget deficit is €11m, the second highest of any Irish university, and was €13m last year.

The Sunday Independent also obtained records for Dr Brady's €20,000-limit credit card covering the five-year period, which reveal Dr Brady also visited some of Dublin finest eateries and hotels. His credit card statements included €457 for dinner at Shanahan's on the Green, €122 for lunch in Town Bar and Grill, €121 for lunch at l'Ecrivain, and €119 for lunch at Ernie's Restaurant. Dr Brady, a golf fan, also hosted a number of days at the exclusive K Club, Co Kildare, for donors and business people. In total, over €2,000 was paid to the K Club for golf and dinners.

There was also a €659 bill at Powerscourt Golf Club for golf and food for a number of foreign academics at a networking conference. There was also a €61 claim on his credit card in 2006 for a Sky Digital television connection in his office, which has since been cancelled, and a €150 claim for a Newbridge Cutlery set for a committee room in Belfield.

A spokeswoman for the college said that given the tight turnaround of his foreign trips and the heavy workload, Dr Brady's use of business class was justified.

She added: "He doesn't take down time when he is there, he works on the plane he works non-stop on the ground." UCD also said "much of Dr Brady's foreign duties are to do with income generation, primarily through philanthropic donations, and he has to visit the countries where these donors live."

Sunday Independent

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