Piano lecturer challenges CIT’s decision to dismiss him

Brian McNamara was suspended after allegations of misconduct from students arose

A piano lecturer has brought a High Court challenge aimed at quashing the decision of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT)   to dismiss him from his post. File photograph: Getty Images.

A piano lecturer has brought a High Court challenge aimed at quashing the decision of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) to dismiss him from his post. File photograph: Getty Images.

 

A lecturer at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has brought a High Court challenge aimed at quashing the college’s decision to dismiss him from his post.

Brian McNamara’s proceedings against CIT, the Minister for Education and Skills and the State claims he was not lawfully dismissed from his role as a piano lecturer at the Cork School of Music, which became part of CIT.

Mr McNamara has taught piano in Ireland at the Royal Irish Academy and the Dublin College of Music and has also taught in France and is concerned about the damage the purported dismissal will have on his reputation, the court heard.

He was suspended on pay from his position in 2012 following complaints of alleged gross misconduct from students. Following an internal inquiry, some of the allegations against him were deemed to be well founded and it was recommended that he be dismissed from the post he had held since 1993. That decision was upheld following an appeal.

Mr McNamara, represented in the High Court by Michael McGrath SC, claims the appeal hearing was unfair and in breach of constitutional justice.

After the appeal, he sought to have his case heard by the Minister over alleged defects in the disciplinary procedures adopted by CIT.

Entitled

Mr McNamara, of the Heights, Broadale, Cork, claims he cannot be removed from his position without the Minister’s consent. He also claims, under the 1930 and 1944 Vocational Education Acts, he is entitled to an oral hearing before the Minister into the complaints he has about the CIT disciplinary process.

He was informed last November that the Minister, due to the enactment of the 2018 Technological Universities Act, was not in a position to grant or withhold consent in regard to CIT’s decision to dismiss Mr McNamara.

Mr McGrath said CIT had sought the Minister’s consent for his client’s dismissal. As the Minister’s consent was no longer required, CIT confirmed its decision to dismiss Mr McNamara in a letter sent to him last month.

Arising out of that decision, Mr McNamara seeks orders quashing the CIT decision to dismiss him and requiring the Minister to hold an inquiry and make a decision on the issues that resulted in his 2012 suspension.

He claims he cannot be lawfully dismissed without an order to that effect being made by the Minister and also seeks damages.

Permission to bring the proceedings was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan on Monday. The judge has stayed the dismissal decision pending the outcome of the proceedings.