Sunday 24 March 2019

College president denies attempt to 'gag' lecturer

Fergus Black

A UNIVERSITY head yesterday denied he had tried to "gag" one of his lecturers and told how he received a "lashing" from a government minister over controversial comments the lecturer had made.

DCU president Ferdinand Von Prondzynski claimed that lecturer Sean O'Nuallain had "repudiated" his contract of employment by being absent from his duties for prolonged periods, failing to turn up for meetings and for not being there for students.

Prof Von Prondzynski told how he was forced to go to the Green Party and ask them to remove material from their party manifesto that had been written by Mr O'Nuallain about green technology. Apart from the fact that the data he had supplied was inaccurate, Mr O'Nuallain had also claimed the university was taking in more students than was appropriate and a number of them were failing, he said.

The president said he had to protect the reputation of the university.

He denied a claim by Mr O'Nuallain's counsel Padraig Lyons that the approach to the Green Party was an attempt to gag him.

"This is not the only comment in public that Mr O'Nuallain had made which is controversial. In one instance, I was called in by a minister and got a lashing. My response to the minister was that he (Mr O'Nuallain) had the right to make these statements because of his academic freedom." The hearing continues today.

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