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Director spent €28,000 on work parties at home

Thousands of euro in expenses racked up by the former director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM) will be investigated by a Dail spending watchdog, the Irish Independent has learned.

New details on expenses claimed by pianist John O'Conor show he spent over €28,000 on work-related parties at his Rathgar home between 2005 and 2008.

The expenses also included bills for upmarket Dublin restaurants like Patrick Guilbaud's and Trocadero.

The acclaimed musician incurred more than €100,000 in expenses over the three years at a time when RIAM was given state funding of €22m, according to new figures.

Neither the home entertainment bill nor his €225,000 salary had the approval of the Department of Education.

The pay and perks package for Dr O'Conor was originally uncovered in an audit by the state spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General, earlier this year. Expenses at the RIAM were subsequently capped.

Mr O'Conor's salary and expenses will be part of a probe by the Public Accounts Committee scheduled for next month, chairman Bernard Allen confirmed yesterday.

"Neither I, nor members of the committee, are happy about these expenses and it will be part of our upcoming probe due in February," he said.


Further details of the expenses also show invoices for parties held at Mr O'Conor's house in 2008 attended by up to 24 people. His drinks and food bill for that year came to €8,510.

In 2007, Mr O'Conor visited Guilbaud's an average of once a month -- running up more than €2,000 on his RIAM card.

His total expenses for that period were €20,239, including an €8,555 drinks bill from Vintry, an off-licence near his home.

Mr O'Conor, who stepped down as a director of the RIAM last year, was not available for comment yesterday.

He worked at the RIAM since 1994 and had amassed a pension fund worth €553,979 as of last September.

Irish Independent