Forget the broadcasters, accountants are now centre stage at RTÉ

The latest arrival on the RTÉ carousel is former KPMG chief Terence O’Rourke, with more accountants set to come to Montrose

There seems to be as many accountants in Montrose as broadcasters. The latest arrival on the RTÉ carousel is Terence O’Rourke, the former chief of KPMG. He takes the chairman’s seat in succession to Siún Ní Raghallaigh, the accountant who received something akin to a televised dismissal from Minister for Media Catherine Martin.

All of this follows endless drama after accountants Grant Thornton were drafted in to examine Ryan Tubridy’s money – the subject of two reports – and then the disastrous showbiz flame-out that was Toy Show the Musical. The affair quickly brought to prominence the names of accountants Breda O’Keeffe and Richard Collins, successive finance chiefs in RTÉ.

Other accountants in the spotlight are Deloitte, RTÉ's auditor since 2019. To be fair, it was Deloitte that first raised concern about circuitous Tubridy payments via the infamous “barter” account. Still, internal files showed how Deloitte told the audit and risk committee of RTÉ's board that “no significant control deficiencies” were noted in the 2022 audit. The many months of turmoil since the scandal broke suggest otherwise.

Now yet more accountants are coming. If the Dáil’s Committee of Public Accounts gets its way, the Comptroller & Auditor General will soon take command of the RTÉ audit. Indeed, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has raised it publicly.

That alone suggests Deloitte will be jumping off the RTÉ carousel. But even if the C&AG isn’t asked, change looms. RTÉ board member Anne O’Leary (another accountant) has told the Oireachtas media committee that the board was “now taking a look at appointing a different auditor and that will go out to tender”.

The next twist in the saga is a report on RTÉ corporate governance by Prof Niamh Brennan of UCD. She is, of course, an accountant who qualified in KPMG.

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