Dáil Éireann - Volume 559 - 18 December, 2002

Other Questions. - Unfair Dismissal.

  30. Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason DCU management declined to submit a file containing allegations against a person (details supplied) when asked by a person (details supplied) to do so at the end of a meeting on 9 November 2002. [26616/02]

  Mr. N. Dempsey: As the Deputy is aware, the Universities Act, 1997 confers autonomous statutory responsibilities on universities in relation to the day-to-day management of their affairs. The conduct of staff relations is a matter for each university in accordance with section 25 of the Act. In this context it would not be appropriate for me to comment on operational management or individual disciplinary issues within a particular university such as the issue raised by the Deputy.

[1473]  Mr. Gogarty: No doubt the Minister is aware through letters from, for example, SIPTU that DCU is allegedly in breach of the Universities Act, contrary to his response to a previous question. He may not be able to comment specifically in individual cases, but there seems to be a concerted effort by the management of DCU to deny a lecturer his rights to make a case. Crucial files were not given before a meeting with the Rights Commissioner where the person in question was to give a refutation of specific allegations by DCU management. In recent months I have met a number of students from DCU and they allege they were bribed to drop the science and society course in return for something being done for them, which is totally unacceptable.

  Under his powers, will the Minister establish conclusively whether DCU has been in breach of the Universities Act as SIPTU has alleged in its refutation letter to him? If so what action can be taken to ensure that the management will work within the remit of that from now on? Otherwise there will be summary dismissals—

  An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy has far exceeded his one minute.

  Mr. Gogarty: Staff could be summarily dismissed without their side being heard.

  Mr. N. Dempsey: I will not comment on any specific case and responding to the Deputy's question would indicate that I was making a comment one way or the other. I am not going to do that. Section 14(1)(b) of the Universities Act lays out what the university must do in performing its functions. It is independent and autonomous and if issues arise, such as unfair dismissals, other laws can be invoked by the union or the individual to protect their rights.