This is just my personal stance, but any occasion that can be described unironically as a 'banquet' is too lavish. A banquet reeks of an ermine-clad monarch, guffawing at their staff while furiously brandishing a roasted turkey leg in each of their greasy paws. You can have a 'dinner' sure, a 'buffet', fine, I'll even give you a pass on 'soirée', but a 'banquet' never seems defensible.
CIT however appear to hold different views on banquets as they recently spent €13,000 on one to celebrate the retirement of their outgoing president, Dr. Brendan Murphy. Now I'm not gonna stand here and say that they shouldn't spend that much money on celebrating the retirement of someone, who is no doubt a diligent worker and has served the college well during their tenure - I'm going to sit here and say that.
I'm all for celebrating a retirement. That's not in question here. What is in question is whether you need 'an ice sculpture of a dolphin' to effectively do so. That's right, there was an ice-sculpture of a dolphin. Money was spent for an icy facsimile of a porpoise, which the assembled staff could watch slowly melt away in some grand metaphor for the whole affair. What sort of a man is this Dr. Brendan Murphy that when his retirement party was being planned those staff members who knew him decided that there'd be no better way to commemorate him, to honour everything he stood for with regard to the college, than with a frozen statue of Flipper.
Nor does Dr. Brendan Murphy seem - admittedly this is entirely based on a quick Google image search of the man - like the kind of Mariah Carey-esque diva who would demand such an ostentatious display of affection. Personally, I wouldn't even countenance the idea of attending a party where there wasn't the promise of at least one ice-sculpture, sure, but Dr. Brendan Murphy seems far less high-maintenance than I.
The cumulative sum of €13,000 was split between a private dinner for staff, and this more elaborate, ice-sculpture laden banquet. The banquet also featured statuettes and a red carpet, with the evening costing a total of some €11,000 with the other €2,000 being spent on the aforementioned private dinner.
Not all staff members seemed to approve of this spending however. As quoted in the Irish Examiner, a CIT lecturer in economics, Tom O'Connor, described it as 'extravagance'. While chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming, has called for an investigation into why so much was spent on the banquet when there are so many students experiencing financial difficulties.
“I propose we write to CIT to give us a detailed explanation as to why they felt it was appropriate to spend €13,000 in view of the difficulties, I would say. I think the student hardship fund would have benefited more from that €13,000 than a banquet to celebrate a retiring official.”
Seriously though. An ice-sculpture of a dolphin?
H/T: Irish Examiner