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February 7, 2010

UL granted €17m for ‘vanity projects’

The cash-strapped University of Limerick (UL) has spent in excess of €1.1m for a mosaic and €16m on a pedestrian bridge over the Shannon.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe is to receive a report into spending at the college in the coming days and is said to be deeply concerned about spending after revelations in the Sunday Independent about the €5m spending on two lavish new homes for the college president.

Despite a budget deficit of €3m, it has emerged this weekend that the college has received €1,125,000 for the building of a mosaic mural at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at UL from Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies foundation.

According to figures and documents, the college has received donations totalling €40m from Mr Feeney since 2001, for a wide range of campus developments.

Other projects that have received the support of the Atlantic Philanthropies include the UL Students’ Centre, the University Concert Hall and the €15.8m- plus Living Bridge across the River Shannon.

The bridge was designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, London, and it consists of seven 50-metre spans linked together by piers, which create four platforms of refuge for walkers. The Pedestrian Living Bridge project was resourced through a partnership of private and public funding and was assigned to Arup Consulting Engineers in Dublin.

Kerin Contract Management in Limerick managed the project while building work was undertaken by Eiffel Construction, France’s largest bridge builder. According to senior college sources, both the bridge and the mosaic have fallen behind schedule and have run over budget.

The Irish Independent