The Irish Mail on Sunday
It’s the high life for UCC president in 3k-a-month penthouse
Professor earns €185,000 but taxpayer picks up his rent bill...
THE president of University College Cork is living in a penthouse apartment in Ireland’s tallest building at a cost of €3,000 a month to the taxpayer, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Professor Patrick O’Shea is staying in the Elysian, one of the most expensive addresses in Cork city, with an annual cost of €36,000.
UCC chief financial officer Diarmuid Collins confirmed the figure in response to a question by Labour TD Alan Kelly at a meeting of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week.
In response to queries from the MoS, UCC confirmed Prof O’Shea has been living in the Elysian, as it ‘met requirements’ following his appointment as the 15th president of the college in February 2017.
He returned from the US to take up a 10-year role, on a starting salary of €185,000.
A spokesperson for UCC said: ‘At the beginning of the search process for the new president of University College Cork, the university’s Governing Body approved the permanent pro- vision of accommodation for the successful candidate, consistent with other universities in Ireland. ‘The option of purchase and/or rental of a property was considered and it is the long-term intention of the university to provide a permanent residence for the president. ‘In the interim, a number of city centre rental properties were considered and an apartment in the Elysian, which is in close proximity to the university, was deemed to meet the requirements.’ Mr Collins told the PAC they have a lease agreement for the property for three years at a mini- mum. Prof O’Shea added that the sum is treated as benefit in kind and is fully taxed.
Former UCC president Dr Michael Murphy said ‘contrary to popular opinion, I do not have a house or a car provided by the university’.
Dr Murphy, who received a €232,000 salary a year, said the heads of Irish universities ‘are as challenged at paying their bills as anyone else’ and if he had taken a similar role in the UK, ‘I would have doubled my salary, got a house and the use of a Jaguar’. Apartments in the Elysian have sold in the past from €575,000 up to €850,000.
All are currently being rented out, with more modest one-beds fetching €1,300 per month, while the largest 2,500 sq ft penthouses command a figure of €3,500 per month.
Also at the PAC this week, the committee’s chairman, Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said he found it ‘staggering’ 158 staff in UCC are on salaries above €100,000, and 15 of those receive wages of over €200,000. Mr Collins said that higher costs primarily relate to the staff attached to the college of medicine and health, with academic medical consultants, ‘similar to consultants in the HSE’.
Five people in UCC are on salaries of €220,000 and above.
Five people in UCC earn salaries above €220,000