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Thursday 23 November 2017

Dutch academic claimed that think tank 'muffled' him

Fergus Black

HIS detailed biography on a university website claims that he is ranked among the top 200 economists in the world,with three books, five major reports, 37 book chapters and "many minor publications" to his name.

But the same impressive list of Richard Tol's achievements -- on the website of the University of Sussex, where he is professor of economics -- makes just a fleeting reference to his former involvement as a research professor with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

Prof Tol's controversial lead authorship of a working paper on 'The Costs of Working in Ireland' came back to haunt the institute yesterday -- six months after his fractious departure from the agency.

Prof Tol, a Dutch economist who left the agency in less than friendly circumstances, claimed in various newspaper interviews earlier this year that the institute's independence was compromised because it got so much of its funding from the Government.

While the ESRI was supposed to be an academic institute where you could speak on the basis of evidenced-based analysis, disciplinary measures had been taken, he said.

"Pressure came in the form of conversations, emails and letters," he told the 'Sunday Independent' in a recent interview.


But he reserved the most serious allegations for Twitter -- allegations which the ESRI has said were "wholly unsubstantiated".

He accused the institute of being a xenophobic and nepotistic body and said he was the fifth senior person to leave the think tank, implying cultural and endemic problems there.

"It was funny to hear academics complain about distant threats to academic freedom. At the ESRI, we were muffled," he said.

Irish Independent

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