herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

City pad where music chief blew €28k on parties

THIS is the plush Rathgar house where the former director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM), John O'Conor, splashed out more than €28,000 on work-related parties between 2005 and 2008.

The thousands of euro in expenses racked up by the famous pianist is now to be investigated by a Dail spending watchdog.

Receipts show Mr O'Conor's drinks and food bill for 2008 came to €8,510. In 2007, He visited Patrick Guilbaud's restaurant on average once a month -- running up more than €2,000 on his RIAM card.

The terraced period property sits on Rathgar's Garville Avenue with many other exclusive homes. Mercedes and BMW cars line the road.



Acclaimed

The acclaimed musician, and father of actor Hugh O'Conor incurred more than €100,000 in expenses over the three years at a time when the RIAM was given state funding of €22m, according to new figures.

Neither the home entertainment bill nor his €225,000 salary had the approval of the Department of Education.

His pay and perks package was originally uncovered in an audit by the state spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General, last year.

His salary and expenses will now be part of a probe by the Public Accounts Committee scheduled for next month, chairman Bernard Allen has confirmed.

"Neither I, nor members of the committee, are happy about these expenses and it will be part of our upcoming probe due in February," he said.

Mr O'Conor's total expenses for the 2005 to 2008 period were €20,239, including an €8,555 drinks bill from Vintry, an off-licence near his home.

Mr O'Conor, who stepped down as a director of the RIAM last year, was not available for comment.

He worked at the RIAM since 1994 and had amassed a pension fund worth €553,979 as of last September.

Retired as director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Mr O'Conor divides his time between teaching at the academy, on Westland Row in Dublin, and teaching at Shenandoah University, in Virginia, where he has been appointed "distinguished visiting artist".

His wife Mary once commissioned a history of their Garville Avenue home as a present for him, discovering that one of the previous owners was Charles Lawlor, the owner and manager of the original Imperial Hotel in Dublin.

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