STAFF at a third-level college where the chairman has been accused of plagiarising sections of his thesis are to be investigated by their institute for leaking information to the media.
The Irish Independent can reveal that Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) president Dr Oliver Murphy told an academic council meeting that the investigation would begin as soon as the examination into a thesis by Flan Garvey – who is chairman of ITT's governing body – was completed.
Dr Murphy announced the investigation into his own colleagues on December 10 last, just five days after the story appeared in this newspaper.
Last November, 26 lecturers and staff signed their names to a two-page letter to the institute registrar, Dr Michael Hall, asking him to refer the plagiarism issue for external investigation.
In January, three external academics were appointed to investigate the plagiarism claims and ITT has said the investigation should be completed by the end of this month.
The plagiarism issue was discussed at a meeting of the ITT's academic council on December 10 – five days after the story first appeared in the Irish Independent.
Minutes of the meeting obtained by the Irish Independent show that Dr Murphy read a statement in relation to plagiarism allegations and leaking of information to the media.
Minutes of the meeting say: "Dr Murphy stated an investigation into the leaking of information to the media would be held once the investigation into the allegation of alleged plagiarism has been concluded."
He noted "that the principle of natural justice would apply".
Mr Garvey – who did not attend the meeting – stepped aside from his role in the days after the meeting.
A motion in relation to the issue was also passed by the academic council.
The motion approved read: "The Academic Council notes the right of staff to raise quality assurance issues but deplores the leaking of information to the media.
"The Academic Council reiterates that all matters in relation examinations proceedings and deliberations are to be treated as confidential."
Mr Garvey received his master's degree in 2008 after completing a dissertation entitled 'A Study of the Saoicht of a Parish in Co Clare'.
He said he would defend himself from the plagiarism allegations.
ITT was contacted for comment on the forthcoming investigation into its staff members but none was forthcoming.