Monday 11 December 2017

DCU president angers staff by halting election

John Walshe

THE President of Dublin City University has angered staff by cancelling elections for the university executive.

The elections were put off because one of the candidates was Prof Paul Cahill, who recently won a High Court case against the university over an attempt to remove him from his post.

Prof Cahill was also awarded costs but the university is now appealing the outcome to the Supreme Court. It is believed the costs to date are in the region of ?800,000 and are set to rise further when the case goes to the Supreme Court.

Prof Cahill, an academic with a distinguished track record, is Director of the Vascular Health Research Centre at DCU.

The University argued, unsuccessfully, that Prof Cahill's employment was terminated in accordance with his contract as it believed he had decided to leave to take up a position elsewhere.

But the High Court said the attempted dismissal was invalid under the terms of the Universities Act.

The outcome of the Supreme Court hearing will have major implications for staff tenure in all universities but a hearing and judgment will take some time.

The Irish Independent has seen a letter sent to staff by the college president, Prof Ferdinand von Prondznski, in which he says he could not see how Prof Cahill could become a member of the executive advising him (the president) in matters of university management.

"Needless to say, I have no problems with Executive members taking independent and if necessary controversial positions in their contributions, so the postponement is unrelated to any desire on my part to exclude any particular shade of opinion," his letter adds.

However, Prof von Prondznski's decision has angered SIPTU and a number of individual academics. SIPTU branch organiser Chris Rowland says that it is an attempt by management to influence the outcome of a democratic process by delaying the election so as to exclude an employee from DCU from participating in the selection process.

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