Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald has accused management at the University of Limerick of having "stone-walled" and "leaned on" a member of staff because they had the temerity to insist that regulations governing expenses were followed.

The university is one of a number of third level colleges that appeared before the Public Accounts Committee in an examination of their finances.

Ms McDonald, who sits on the committee, was referring to allegations that were raised by former staff members at UL a number of years ago.

The allegations centred on perceived abuses of the university's staff expenses procedures.

The treatment of the staff members who raised concerns was later the subject of an investigation commissioned by the Higher Education Authority.

Ms McDonald said she believed a deeper investigation into what had gone on was still required.

She said her understanding was that a staff member, known as 'Person A' in the HEA-commissioned investigation, had stumbled upon the abuse of the college's expenses system.

The TD maintained that Person A had then been leaned on and punished by management, and that this treatment caused a period of sick leave in 2010 which preceded a request for early retirement.

However UL President Don Barry said the TD's understanding and his own understanding were "miles apart on this issue".

He went on to say that he knew more about Person A than she did, and that he was reluctant to refer to personal information related to Person A in a public forum.

Professor Barry said it was his understanding that all the expense claims in question had been appropriately dealt with.

However he acknowledged that a settlement of €186,000 had been made with the Revenue Commissioners in relation to one disputed claim.

Prof Barry pointed out that the Comptroller and Auditor General was satisfied that what he called these "control lapses" had been dealt with.

He told the committee that 12 of 15 recommendations made by the HEA commissioned investigation had been complied with, and the other three were in train.

One of the alleged expense claim abuses had to do a trip to Australia by a staff member who was on sabbatical. The claim included expenses for the staff member's spouse.

Prof Barry said the university had since changed its sabbatical claims policy in order to comply with revenue requirements.

"We had a policy on sabbaticals", he said, "but that policy was wrong".

Addressing another claim, where a person working for the University had been paid expenses for travelling from home to work, Prof Barry said that had been an error and should not have been paid.

Two other staff members, who were referred to as Persons B and C in the HEA-commissioned investigation, had also made complaints of irregular expense claims and subsequently made a formal complaint of bullying against another staff member at UL.

Responding to questions from TD Bobby Aylward, Prof Barry confirmed that Persons B and C were currently suspended from the university after an external investigation had found that the complaint of bullying had been made maliciously.

He added this finding had been upheld on appeal.

Prof Barry said a disciplinary process against Persons B and C was pending but had not yet begun, partly because the employees in question had taken a case to the Workplace Relations Commission, and that case had yet to be heard.

The two were suspended in June of 2015.

Ms McDonald said she was left with a sinking feeling that all is, or was, not well in Prof Barry's department.

She said to have three people fall foul of the system was, to her, quite extraordinary.

Persons A, B, and C were all working in the university's expenses department.

Prof Barry confirmed that all three had raised similar concerns.

Ms McDonald asked the UL president could he understand why that would raise alarm bells. She said she did not accept, that Person A was sick, while Persons B and C had been malicious in intent, and that bothered her.