Trinity did not put a €6.7 million contract to provide guided tours of its campus out for tender, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The contract to become Trinity’s official tours provider, which is held by Authenticity Tours, the company run by the assistant junior dean, Joseph O’Gorman, was awarded without an invitation to tender being put out, which would have allowed other companies to bid for the contract.
In tender documents published by Trinity, College have said they intend to put the contract out for tender in 2021, valued at €5.6 million.
The documents state that Trinity was able to avail of an exception to the legal requirement to invite tenders for the contract before this date due to exceptional circumstances. These included the loss of two members of staff from the Commercial Revenue Unit (CRU) who would have been responsible for drawing up a tender and the fact that the Book of Kells Exhibition is currently undergoing renovation work.
Last week The Sunday Times reported Joseph O’Gorman and his partner Andrew Nangle had paid themselves at least €1.3m between 2015 and 2018 from the Authenticity Tours company which they operate together.
O’Gorman, who is also the strategic development officer of the Central Societies Committee (CSC), is currently running for a seat in Seanad Éireann in the Dublin University Committee.
Authenticity Tours have been Trinity’s official provider of campus tours since 2015. In 2017 Trinity instituted a new policy regarding tours of campus, which stated that unauthorised tours of campus would not be permitted and any company wishing to provide a tour of Trinity would have to book to do so through Authenticity Tours.
The policy states that unauthorised tours in Trinity “place undue wear and tear on facilities”, but also expressly states that one of the purposes of the policy is to “increase revenue for the University” and to “drive value from and support the promotion and uptake of our official tour provider”.
Tours of campus, as well as Trinity’s tourist attractions such as the Book of Kells exhibition, the Douglas Hyde Gallery and the Science Gallery, are all currently closed due to the shut down of Trinity in response to the coronavirus pandemic.