Unfair to compare €3million valuation with €8.3million UL paid for Dunnes site 

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University of Limerick Chancellor Mary Harney.

COMPARING a previous valuation of €3million for the former Dunnes Stores site in Limerick City to the €8.3million paid for it by the University of Limerick is unfair.

That was the view expressed by UL Chancellor Mary Harney when she appeared at last Thursday’s meeting of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to address concerns over the university’s financial governance which has resulted in the €3.7million in funding being withheld by the Department of Higher Education.

Ms Harney said that the €3million valuation for Limerick City and County Council was a desktop exercise for internal purposes to put the Dunnes site on the derelict sites register in 2017.

“The €3million cannot be compared with the €8million. It would not be fair or right to do so,” she declared.

In April 2019, Dunnes approached UL to see if it was interested in purchasing the site. The UL board was informed that the university had made an opening offer of €6.5million in response to Dunnes’ asking price of €10million.

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Ms Harney said the UL governing authority had been assured that independent valuations had been provided by both sides.

When it became clear after the purchase that no written valuation could be found, the board commissioned an investigation by consultants KPMG.

Committee chairman Brian Stanley said it was intolerable that the KPMG report has not been published because of a legal challenge.

Ms Harney said the intention had been to publish the report in February. She added that the current governing authority would cease to exist this coming November, and it would be unconscionable if they didn’t have sight of the report before then.

“There is nothing we want more than to see this report and to get it published, particularly the members of the board who attended the meeting which approved the purchase of the site”.