Tubridy pay: Taoiseach ‘concerned’ about undisclosed payments as presenter apologises ‘unreservedly’

RTÉ interim deputy director general Adrian Lynch says Tubridy will not return to radio show duties next week for ‘editorial reasons’


22:22

Friday’s developments recapped

  • RTÉ Board and chair not aware of payments made to Tubridy through barter account via his agent before presenter announced Late Late departure
  • Interim deputy director general Adrian Lynch told RTÉ Six One News “significant reputational damage” has been done and there has been a “massive breach of trust with the public”
  • RTÉ journalists have said they are “hugely angered” and “devastated” at the undermining of public trust and good will caused by the Ryan Tubridy payments scandal
  • Latest Tubridy statement: “At the centre of all of this is trust. The trust of colleagues in RTÉ and the trust of a great many people who listen to my show. To them: I wholeheartedly apologise for my error of judgment”
  • RTÉ pay scandal: Who knew what and when?
  • RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes has been suspended since Wednesday of this week
  • Minister for Culture Catherine Martin is to meet RTÉ's Siún Ní Raghallaigh on Saturday with two days of Oireachtas hearings likely next week
  • Mr Tubridy did not present his radio show on Friday morning and was instead replaced by comedian Oliver Callan who said RTÉ had served up a “scandal”

22:07

The RTÉ Board issues a statement on Friday evening saying neither they nor the chair had any knowledge payments made to Tubridy through the barter account via his agent before the presenter announced his departure from the Late Late Show.

During the same week that Tubridy announced his departure from the talk show, “members of the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) of the RTÉ Board were contacted by the auditors to alert them about concerns they had about a number of issues. It was agreed the issues would be discussed at a meeting of the ARC on March 21st.”

“The ARC was first briefed of the issues on March 21st. On receipt of this information, the ARC promptly commissioned Grant Thornton to carry out an independent fact-finding review on the matter in question. The review was completed, and findings furnished to the ARC on Friday last and discussed on Monday of this week by the Board of RTÉ.

“The Board of RTÉ is committed to ensuring that there is appropriate accountability for what has occurred. That process is ongoing, mindful of individuals’ rights, and affording them due process.”


21:23

The Irish Times view on the RTÉ crisis: restoring public trust

The principle of a publicly-funded national media company which serves the people and is free from bias or government interference remains worth defending.


20:47

Former RTÉ chairwoman Moya Doherty said she never knew of Ryan Tubridy’s hidden payments, despite holding the top role on the board’s remuneration committee for years.

Although top presenters such as Tubridy receive the highest pay in the organisation, the remuneration committee had no oversight of such pay.

Read more here: RTÉ board’s pay oversight committee ‘did not deal with talent pay’ to broadcaster’s top stars


20:45

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is “very concerned” about the information released by RTÉ and at the suspension of Dee Forbes.

In a statement Mr Varadkar said: “On the face of it, there has been a serious breach of trust and truth between RTÉ and the Government, the Oireachtas and the people.

“Minister Martin has spoken with the RTÉ Chairperson and has scheduled a meeting with her tomorrow (Saturday).

“I am keeping in touch with Minister Martin on this issue and will receive an update from her after the meeting. She will brief Cabinet on Tuesday.

“At tomorrow’s meeting, the Minister will be asking the Chairperson to set out in detail, the issues involved and the steps the RTÉ Board is taking. The Government considers it essential that we have the highest standards of governance, accountability and transparency from RTÉ and will consider what further action may be required.

“All of the matters involved will have to be examined and, perhaps, remedial steps taken to restore trust and confidence.

“It will be equally important for the Board to demonstrate that it is putting in place appropriate structures and processes to prevent a recurrence.

“The public are right to expect high standards of transparency and accountability from RTÉ as it is extremely important that we can all have trust in our public service broadcasting.”


19:57

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media has called on RTÉ's director general Dee Forbes and its Executive Board to publicly discuss the “extent and severity of the issues” around undisclosed payments made to Ryan Tubridy.

The committee said in a statement on Thursday evening that it plans to formally invent “relevant personnel in RTÉ” to appear before it next week in a public session to “discuss relevant matters”.

“The Committee is wholly dedicated to the pursuit of sustainable and resilient public service broadcasting structures. The Committee reiterates its belief that public service broadcasting is a key pillar of Ireland’s democracy. Transparency and accountability on the part of our public service broadcasters are, in this regard, fundamental.

“The Committee wishes to note that RTÉ has played a significant role in this space, and wishes to support RTÉ in its rebuilding of public trust and in its delivery of a key public good. However, the Committee stands in complete opposition to what RTÉ has outlined as ‘a serious breach of trust with the public’.

“The Committee stands in solidarity with the staff base of RTÉ, who it understands must be outraged at recent revelations.”


19:20

As the controversy over revelations RTÉ paid Tubridy €345,000 more than it publicly declared over recent years deepens, questions turn to who knew what and when?

Read more here: RTÉ pay scandal: Who knew what and when?


18:55

Adrian Lynch also told the Six One News: “There are two key issues here. The two key issues are: how was this money paid and how was it declared? I knew nothing about either of those, these are the issues that need to be resolved. There is a process ongoing in relation to that and we need to be mindful of individual rights and due process, that should be fair but the chair was very clear that there needs to be accountability.”

“There is a process underway,” he said.

“The chair [Siún Ní Raghallaigh] has been very clear, and we’re going to work together to ensure that as information becomes available we will share it with the public because people want to know, what has happened.


18:37

RTÉ journalists have said they are “hugely angered” and “devastated” at the undermining of public trust and good will caused by the Ryan Tubridy payments scandal.

Staff at the broadcaster who are members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) held a lengthy emergency meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss the revelations RTÉ had for several years declared misleading pay for the star presenter.

Read more here: RTÉ journalists ‘devastated, ashamed, betrayed and angered’ by Tubridy pay scandal


18:28

The interim deputy director general of RTÉ Adrian Lynch has said that Ryan Tubridy will not appear on RTÉ Radio next week for “editorial reasons” following the news that his earnings were underreported by the public service broadcaster.

Speaking to the Six One News on Friday evening, Mr Lynch said that RTÉ cannot put an individual on the airwaves who is “at the centre of a public controversy.” Due to the requirement to be “independent and objective”, Mr Tubridy cannot appear on a show that “opens up with what it says in the papers where you’re at the centre of that story,” says Mr Lynch.

Mr Lynch, who is the first senior member of RTÉ management to speak publicly on the payments controversy, said he was not in a position to say when Mr Tubridy would return to presenting duties on RTÉ Radio.

“We’ve done an internal review to look at the other top ten [earners] and validate the fact that there was no such arrangement,” said Mr Lynch. “That appears to be the case. We’ve now asked Grant Thornton to come in and quickly validate whether that is the case and confirm it and then we will share that through the board.”


17:41

Irish Equity, the union representing performance and theatre professionals in the Republic, has expressed concern at the undisclosed payments to Tubridy in a statement.

The statement said the revelations highlight “wider issues surrounding the transparency of governance and operations in RTÉ”.

Irish Equity Organiser, Michelle Quinn, said: “The Executive of Irish Equity has stated that it is deeply concerned at the failure of RTÉ to disclose payments made to Ryan Tubridy.

“It has said that what has transpired is totally unacceptable and it is yet another breach of trust with the general public by the national broadcaster.”

She added: “The Executive further stated that the general lack of transparency within RTÉ also impacts members of Irish Equity in a variety of ways. It hampers good faith negotiations and calls into question the integrity of the institution. The Executive also expressed its solidarity with their colleagues in the RTÉ Trade Union Group.”


17:38

Not sure who all the names and faces involved in the recent news are? See our guide here:

RTÉ pay scandal: Who’s who at the national broadcaster?


17:27

Minister for Culture Catherine Martin is to meet RTÉ Siún Ní Raghallaigh tomorrow with two days of Oireachtas hearings likely next week.


17:18

I am proud of my contribution to RTÉ over the past seven years

Another statement. This time from the outgoing Director General Dee Forbes.

This is the full text.

In response to the statements issued yesterday and today by the RTÉ Board I would like to make the following points. I have been fully engaged with the Board since this matter arose in the course of the audit of the accounts. When asked in April 2023, I participated in the review conducted by Grant Thornton to determine the full circumstances and facts surrounding two specific payments to fulfil a contractual obligation for the years 2021 and 2022.

Yesterday was an extremely difficult day for all of us who care so deeply about the organisation and the impact of these issues is a matter of profound regret.

I am proud of my contribution to RTÉ over the past seven years. Throughout my tenure as Director General, I have always prioritised what I believe are the best interests of the organisation, in order to best serve the public. This includes pursuing a difficult cost cutting agenda as part of implementing a wider strategic agenda, all while navigating the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.

I will be making no further public comment at this time.


17:08

One of the largest meetings of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members at RTÉ in recent memory heard staff were “angry and dismayed” at the failure of the broadcaster’s Executive Board to “address the grave concerns of staff and the decision by management to refuse all media interviews” in connection with the secret payments to Ryan Tubridy.

At a meeting chaired by Emma O Kelly, Chair of the Dublin Broadcasting Branch of the NUJ a motion was adopted which stressed that journalists at RTÉ remain “committed to the core principles of public service broadcasting and to the highest standards of ethical journalism”.

The motion said the “revelations of undisclosed payments to Ryan Tubridy and the secretive arrangement with a third party threaten to undermine the trust which is the cornerstone of our relationship with the Irish people”.

It called for the RTÉ Executive Board to make themselves available to RTÉ programmes and other media to address the very many questions that need answering.

It also said:

  • We want to know who signed off on these secret payments and who knew about them.
  • We want those responsible to be held to account.
  • We welcome the new announcement of an independent inquiry. We want its scope to be broadened to include wider issues relating to remuneration, including pensions and perks.
  • We also want an end to what members see as a culture of secrecy surrounding pay, pensions and perks at the organisation.
  • We want an independent examination of RTÉ's use of third-party agents acting on behalf of a select group and the appropriateness of such relationships in a public broadcasting organisation.”

Ms O Kelly said the meeting was the largest held in recent memory.‘’Our members have worked extremely hard to earn and maintain the trust of the Irish public. That trust is something we value and respect hugely.

“They are devastated to see the hard-earned goodwill of the public undermined as a result of this scandal. We will continue to do our jobs to the best of our ability, and that includes holding RTÉ to the same standards that the public expects of any publicly funded body. We demand that our viewers and listeners are treated with respect, and we want that respect extended also to staff at RTÉ.’’


17:02

‘People spoke of how devastated they were, how ashamed they were’

More from the NUJ emergency meeting at Montrose.

The Union’s Dublin Broadcasting chairwoman Emma O Kelly said RTÉ staff have called for a broader independent inquiry into a “culture of secrecy” at the broadcaster. Speaking after the what she described as a “huge” meeting of the RTÉ sub-branch of the NUJ, Ms O Kelly said staff members are “devastated”.

“People spoke of how devastated they were, how ashamed they were, and how betrayed they felt.” Employees who are members of SIPTU were also in attendance.

Speakers rose over several issues including money for basic office equipment.

“We have young, talented journalists leaving this organisation and yet in the midst of all this we have these secret payments – so there’s huge anger.” Ms O Kelly, who is RTÉ News’ education correspondent, added: “We have huge concerns around the use of the third-party contracts, this is something we have raised with RTÉ before.”

When my earnings were published I should have asked questions

Ryan Tubridy has issued a second statement in 24 hours. Here is the full text.

Further to my statement yesterday, I wish to respond to issues in the last 24 hours arising from RTÉ's accounting treatment and publication of payments made to me between 2017 and 2022.

RTÉ's accounting treatment and publication of payments made to me between 2017 and 2022 contained serious errors. While I have no responsibility for the corporate governance in RTÉ or how or what they publish in their accounts, when my earnings were published I should have asked questions at the time and sought answers as to the circumstances which resulted in incorrect figures being published. I didn’t, and I bear responsibility for my failure to do so. For this, I apologise unreservedly.

For the avoidance of doubt, all my earnings from RTÉ have at all times been included in my company’s accounts that were prepared by my accountant and filed with the Companies Registration Office and all my taxes are up to date. My filed accounts with details of these earnings have previously been reported on in the media.

At the centre of all of this is trust. The trust of colleagues in RTÉ and the trust of a great many people who listen to my show. To them: I wholeheartedly apologise for my error of judgment.

Separately, it has been reported that I did not take a pay cut over the last number of years. This is simply not true. Over the period of my contract with RTÉ, I have been asked to take several reductions in salary and I did. Indeed, between 2012 and today, my pay from RTÉ was cut by approximately 40%.

I also wish to respond to suggestions that this issue had some bearing on my decision to step down from hosting the Late Late Show. It did not.

Finally, I am disappointed that RTÉ has decided that for editorial reasons I should not broadcast my radio show next week. I look forward to returning to the radio show, a job I love, as soon as possible and I hope my listeners and my colleagues appreciate my sincerity on this.


16:14

The Irish Times Inside Politics Podcast has turned its attention to Tubsgate – as someone (but not us) is bound to refer to it at some point. A very simple question is asked. Can RTÉ be trusted to run itself?

Can RTÉ be trusted to run itself?

Listen | 48:04
Jennifer Bray and Jack Horgan-Jones join Hugh to talk about the week in politics, including the crisis at RTÉ

Answers on a postcard please ...


15:12

Fancy a review of the Not Ryan Radio Show this morning? Ed Power has you covered.


15:09

Harry McGee is in Galway at the Government’s Consultative Forum on International Security Policy. The Tubridy story is front and centre in a way that no one might have anticipated even 24 hours ago.

“It’s the non disclosure that’s the serious issue,” said Fianna Fáil’s Eamonn O Cuív. The first thing is to get the facts, who knew, who made the arrangements and who approved it?”

Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers said the “revelations were shocking”. She said there was a “collective jaw drop across the country. Having spoken to ordinary RTÉ staff, they feel betrayed and gutted and let down. They are on modest wages and took a pay cut. The trust has been broken. Nationally RTÉ misled the Oireachtas and did not disclose the actual figure that was paid. It has damaged public trust in our broadcaster. As an organisation it is hugely important to our country, to our democracy and to our people. It will come through this and it will have a job of work to do to restore confidence.

And independent senator Gerard Craughwell said RTÉ had been “absolutely irresponsible in not reporting what happened. Ryan Tubridy himself has a responsibility. He knows what he got, he should have come clean. His statement yesterday saying that it’s not my fault does not go far enough.”


14:26
RTÉ staff ‘betrayed and are rightly angry ... this is GUBU stuff’

The Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists Seamus Dooley has issued a statement in which he described the last 48 hours as “deeply disturbing and strike at the heart of RTÉ as Ireland’s premier public service broadcaster.”

He said the revelations “caused upset, anger and resentment right across the organisation, from union activists and members to members of the Management Association (MA) to the highest levels of the organisation.”

He said it was “GUBU stuff – grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented in scale.

“RTÉ staff feel betrayed and are rightly angry. Yesterday’s comprehensive statement from the board was an honest attempt at placing information on the public record. I struggle to understand why the suspension of the Director General on Wednesday was not announced at the same time. This form of drip drip announcements, a sort of industrial relations striptease, does nothing to reassure RTÉ employees.”

He said he was “mindful of the need for due process and the rights of individuals in this process and I look forward to the Grant Thornton investigation”.

However he added that he was also “mindful of the sense of betrayal felt by workers whom I and colleagues represented in good faith negotiations while a parallel process of negotiations with a third party was undertaken by RTÉ. That process and the arrangements entered into led to a deception of staff, the public and the Government. RTÉ staff deserve better. The Oireachtas deserves better. The Irish public deserve better. ”

He said there would have to be a “clear eyed and focused” examination “of corporate governance” and cautioned against people becoming “distracted by wider issues. We need to demand transparency from the Executive Board. We also need to ensure that those who seek to use these events to prevent proper funding of public service broadcasting are not successful in their mission. Public service broadcasting matters and it would be the ultimate betrayal if the unacceptable events revealed yesterday were to lead to the undermining of RTÉ.:


14:04

While no senior executives have been available for interview today one former commercial director of RTÉ was talking to the news at one.

Willie O’Reilly was a member of the executive board until the end of 2017 and he had some insights as to how things work there.

When asked what his reaction to the news was he said “I’m shocked. You know, I think the whole thing is like shock and awe. It’s almost unbelievable that something like this could happen. Because when you look at it, RTÉ historically has been under scrutiny by all committees, by the Government. It has an annual report that comes out every year. It has a very strong financial function. I know I worked for the organisation on two occasions. On this occasion, if Brady was here, he would just say it very simply ‘somebody dropped the ball.’

Q: You were on the executive board until the end of 2017. Did you know that Ryan Tubridy was being paid over €20,000 more than what the public were likely to know?

“I had no idea about that. Those would only have come out in 2018 when the results were published and I was gone by that time. That’s not an excuse on my part, but that’s just a fact. I left in November. This is completely beyond my understanding. I mean, Gavin, if we look at the notion of barter, I mean, if your audience know what barter is, it’s an opportunity to use, say, unsold airtime to do a deal with another company. So, for instance, hotels might have lots of vacancies in January. And they say to a tech company, do you want to have your annual get together in a hotel? You get hotel rooms for free, you get some equipment from the tech company, everybody’s happy. You exchange VAT invoices, very important, and everybody gets something out of it and no cash changes hand. It’s widespread in industry. It’s a small part of what goes on, but it’s done, not to facilitate third parties, but usually to use up unused inventory.

Q: Were barter accounts being used by [the broadcaster] when you were here?

Willie: Yes.

Q: And who had control of them?

“Well, that’s why I nearly fell over, because when I saw the statement from RTÉ, it said that at some stage there was very loose controls and that they had been brought in-house. I don’t want to mention names, but when I was there, we had a senior financial person on the floor, like on the commercial floor who was responsible and recorded all of these things. It’s really important because if you get the VAT wrong, you’re in deep doo doo. So it would have been a priority. And I’ve been in other organisations where it’s a priority. You can do it. It’s a useful financial tool, but you’ve got to get it right.

Q: The barter account only applied from 2020 onwards. Let’s go back to 2017, the first year where a discrepancy was reported between the pay that Ryan was paid and what was published. How do you think that discrepancy arose that year?

“I don’t understand that because I actually have no knowledge of it. And again, you know, factually, those accounts came out in 2018, not in 2017. And so I have no idea. And that’s the other thing. You know, it seems to be understandable how it happened in 20 and 21. But now [the broadcaster] has decided to restate all the figures. So how long has this been going on? How many people knew about it? I mean, there are three elements in any organisation that would know about this. The very senior management, the financial people and the commercial people. So the answer is inside that triangle.

Q: Were you aware of any commercial deal with Ryan Tubridy that would explain the difference between his published pay and his actual pay in the last year that you were here?

“No.”

Q: You were on the executive board for a number of years. When pay is being negotiated with a higher earner with RTÉ who signs off on those deals? Who is the ultimate sign off?

“Well, to explain, first of all, the commercial director is generally not involved and that would have been the DG. You know, that’s the way the DG did it. So with the top talent they keep that information tight, there was only the DG, the Chief financial officer and probably the head of the department that the person was working with. So the information was kept tight, so I wasn’t party to any negotiations in my time.

Q: Did you not have any knowledge of deals with hiring or some of what they were doing.?

“No, They were kept entirely in a tight and a tight group here.

Q: And those deals, those pay arrangements, did they go to the remuneration committee of the board?

Well, my understanding is they do. But remember, I wasn’t a board member. I was an executive member, so I wouldn’t know that. But they were published every year and I had to come on radio on a number of occasions and defend those salaries. And now, you know, I realise that myself or whoever came out defending them afterwards had the wrong numbers. I mean, what a breach of trust. A breach of trust with the Oireachtas, with the PAC. It’s just mind boggling.

Q: Do pay the salaries with high earners go to the Audit and Risk Committee, the CEO of the board?

“My understanding is, yes, of course they do.”

Q: Who has the final say then on pay?

The director general.”

Q: And who has oversight of that? Does it have to be approved by the [RTÉ] board?

Well, my understanding is it is approved by the chief financial officer, and it would depend with the board, the all of the board may not know about it. They may not want to know about it. And you have to keep that information tight and you have to respect, you know, you have to respect people’s privacy in these matters. So it wouldn’t go to the entire board. That would be not known. But I think the chairperson, if he or she wanted to know, would know, and that would generally apply to the top 10 people. But as you know yourself, RTÉ employs many people across its output areas. So the board wouldn’t be expected to know all their salaries.

Q: What do you think should happen now?

Well, I think the thing that has to happen is actually a bit of a cliche. I think some space has to be created. You’ve got a new director general coming in. He’s probably got an agenda. Instead of following his agenda, he’s going to be wading through deep doo da and mud for the next five or six months around this. I think an external party has to be appointed to come in and investigate it. That will cost RTÉ money. And by the way, I think also an internal financial led investigation has to happen as to how the financial function in RTÉ reported two sets of figures or reported in error, the wrong figures to the Dáil committee.


13:50

The Liveline is now open..... and as the Joe Duffy programme starts the first caller expresses great unhappiness with how RTÉ have managed the secret payments to Ryan Tubridy and says the statement from the presenter that was issued yesterday evening lacks credibility. The second caller is angry too. It is likely to be a long 90 minutes for Duffy and there is unlikely to be much room for Funny Friday.

More news from political circles


13:49

This has landed from Ronan McGreevy.

Suspended RTÉ director general Dee Forbes told the Public Accounts Committee last year that the broadcaster had implemented 15 per cent pay cuts for its top presenters.

Ms Forbes announced in 2019 that all RTÉ's top 10 presenters would be taking a pay cut of 15 per cent because of the financial situation within the organisation.

In January 2022 she appeared in front of the Public Accounts Committee and was asked by Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy as to whether or not she had made good on her pledge to reduce their salaries by 15 per cent.

Ms Forbes responded: “Yes. We outlined in the 2019 strategy that we were seeking a reduction of 15 per cent in that number and that has been achieved for 2020 and 2021.”

Her comments were backed up by Fiona O’Shea, RTÉ's group financial controller who told the committee: “Ms Forbes committed during 2019 to deliver a 15 per cent on those top 10 earners. I can confirm today that that has been achieved in 20202.”

RTÉ eventually published its figures for 2020 and 2021 only in February 2023 after promising the committee it would publish them later in 2022.

RTÉ claimed that Tubridy took a cut in salary from €495,000 in 2019 to €465,250 in 2022 to €440,000 in 2021, a total pay cut of 11 per cent.

In reality RTÉ paid Mr Tubridy €545,000 in 2019, €522,500 in 2020, €515,000 in 2021 and the same amount in 2022.

In 2020, 2021 and 2022 Mr Tubridy publicly stated salary was topped up by €75,000 following a commercial deal with The Late Late Show sponsors Renault Ireland in 2020 which was not renewed in 2021 and 2022, but was paid by RTÉ.

In reality the drop in Mr Tubridy’s real earnings from €545,000 in 2019 to €515,000 in 2022 was only 5 per cent, just a third of what Ms Forbes told the committee that RTÉ had done.


13:46

The Tánaiste Micheál Martin has greeted the news of the secret payments to Ryan Tubridy with “huge shock” and called for “more clarification” about what happened and how it happened.

First of all, just huge shock and surprise at what has transpired in terms of the manner of this. I think we need more clarification,” he said.

“I think the minister is meeting with the chair of the board. I think early next week and I do think we need comprehensive clarity around this and an explanation as to what transpired. I think particularly in the area of transparency this is a breach of trust in terms of the public presentation of the figures as opposed to the reality of the figures,” he said.

“That is serious, particularly because I think it relates to governance within RTÉ and given its unique role as a public service broadcaster, clarity is required in all aspects of this. The role of commercial sponsors in such a flagship programme. Understandably, sponsorship is there, but nonetheless there are questions.”


13:40

More news just in: The Chair of the Oireachtas Media Committee, Niamh Smyth, has called a special online private meeting of the committee for 3.30pm. We will have updates as and when we they become available.


13:26

There have been no senior executives from RTÉ put forward to address the crisis today and the Minister with responsible for the media believes that needs to change.

Speaking at lunchtime, the Minister for the Arts Catherine Martin said she had been made aware on Thursday of the decision to suspend Dee Forbes, but knew that it could not be announced until legal advice was taken.

She said that for the sake of transparency it was good that the announcement had been made given that the suspension had taken place and said it would be helpful if the executive board of RTÉ would speak on the issue.

“I think that the board who made the statement yesterday have acted swiftly and they are doing what needs to be done. And as I said, I will meet the chair of that board on Monday. But I think it would be helpful for the executive board to speak to the issue.”


12:59

This is a tough day to work in RTÉ. The staff who had absolutely nothing to do with the secret payments to Ryan Tubridy have been covering the story with exemplary professionalism.

Two pieces from Aine Lawlor on Morning Ireland are worth a listen if you have the time. First there is her https://www.rte.ie/radio/radio1/clips/22266308/ of the Public Accounts Committee Brian Stanley.

And then there is a wrap from the same journalist.

This has nothing to do with ... the journalists [and] low paid researchers who work on programs like the Late Late Show [and] make people like Ryan Tubridy look good

RTÉ. journalists are meeting this afternoon to discuss the fallout from the Tubridy payments crisis and are said to be absolutely furious with senior management. Morale is said to be very very low with all staff demanding answers as to how this was allowed to happen at a time when the national broadcaster was said to be cash-strapped and cutting staff numbers and wages.

Speaking on the lunchtime news just now Emma O’Kellly, the NUJ representative in Montrose did not pull any punches.

“The people who’ve been talking to me are absolutely livid. They’re infuriated by this news. They’re more angry today than they were yesterday, if that’s possible. Members feel completely betrayed by RTÉ.. Many feel that they’ve lost any trust that they might have had in RTÉ's top brass.

And what we want now is we want answers. We want to know who sanctioned this payment, who signed off on it? Who knew about this payment, and we want accountability? Because we feel we need accountability if RTÉ. corporately is to get over this.

And it’s really important to say that this is about corporate governance. This has nothing to do with the ordinary members that I represent. It has nothing to do with the SIPTU members that I work with. And I’m talking about the journalists, the researchers, low paid researchers who work on programs like the Late Late Show [and] make people like Ryan Tubridy look good because they are slogging away behind the scenes on low pay. This has nothing to do with any of those people. This is an issue of corporate governance. And this is important because I know this is going to lead into a whole question of public funding for RTÉ.”


12:46

Siptu has weighed in on the unfolding story.

In a statement it said “swift action and genuine accountability are essential if the crisis in trust for station staff and the public concerning financial governance in RTÉ is to begin to be allayed”.

SIPTU Organiser, Martin Mannion, said the “adverse impact of the emergence of hidden payments to the most prominent broadcaster in RTÉ cannot be overstated. This is a massive breach of trust by senior management at the station with its workforce and the public. It has confirmed and compounded an existing severe lack of confidence and distrust among RTÉ staff concerning the activities of senior management at the station.”

He pointed to the context surrounding this issue and said it was key. “At the time of these payments many low paid staff at the station were being asked to accept cost reduction measures. Most staff had received only one pay rise in more than a decade and the broadcaster was discovered to have widely undermined statutory workers’ rights through the implementation of bogus self-employment schemes.”

He added: that a “trusted public broadcaster is vital for the good operation of our society. It must be a source of information that can be relied upon, it must be in a position where it can hold others to account, it must not be associated with sharp practice and graft.”


12:36

Speaking of timelines, it is worth noting that the statement from RTÉ's board yesterday there was no mention of the fact that the Director General Dee Forbes had been suspended on Wednesday. Nor did the chairwoman of the board Siún Ní Raghallaigh see fit to mention it on the main evening news yesterday. Why not is just one of many, many questions that remain unanswered.


12:27

A timeline of who in Government knew what and when is starting to emerge.

Jack Horgan Jones has filed a story saying that the Minister for Culture Catherine Martin only became aware that a looming payments scandal at RTÉ related to a presenter on the station last Friday.

“A spokesman for Ms Martin said that she was informed there was “an issue” in March but that she was not aware that the issue related to payments to a presenter. The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan were told of the matter on Tuesday, he said.

It is not clear at what point in the period between last Friday and yesterday Ms Martin became aware in the intervening days that it related to former Late Late Show host, who received €345,000 in hidden payments over the last six years, the board of the broadcaster said on Thursday.

Ms Martin’s spokesman said that in March, the Dublin Rathdown TD was advised that a “fact finding exercise had been commissioned in response to a payment queried by the auditors, and that the Board would consider the findings of the review when complete”.

“The review was considered by the board on Monday and yesterday’s statement by RTÉ sets out the board’s response,” he said.

“On Tuesday, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister Ryan were advised of the matter as conveyed to the Minister by the Chair.”


12:21

We might be reading too much into a throwaway comment but it is worth noting the Tubridy very short notice stand-in Oliver Callan signed off the show this morning with the phrase “Back on Monday.”

And handing over to Colm O Mongain he stressed that Colm had been in for Claire Byrne all week in case it looked like she too had bunked off!


12:17

Worth taking a step back in time maybe?

RTÉ's highest-paid presenter Ryan Tubridy said he would “not be found wanting” if asked to take another pay cut.

Mr Tubridy, who earned €495,000 in 2018, said he took a 30 per cent cut the last time he was asked and would be ready to take a further 15 per cent if required by RTÉ management.

The Late Late Show presenter saw his pay decline in 2013 when his salary of €723,000 was reduced by 31 per cent to its present level of €495,000.

In response to RTÉ's ongoing financial crisis, director general Dee Forbes said its top-paid broadcasters need to take a further 15 per cent cut as part of a programme of measures to save €60 million over three years. The measures will include 200 job cuts.

The story was by Ronan McGreevy from 2019 ...


12:00

Breaking news

Statement from RTÉ: “The RTÉ Board confirms that Dee Forbes, the director general was suspended from her employment on Wednesday 21 June 2023. There are processes ongoing and RTÉ must be mindful of its legal responsibilities and the rights of individuals. RTÉ will not be commenting further on this issue at this time.”


11:45

A statement has just landed from Moya Doherty who was the chairwoman of the RTÉ board until late last year.

Here it is in full.

“At no time during my tenure as Chair of the RTÉ Board did I, or other members of the Board, have knowledge of any issue relating to certain payments and the profoundly serious lack of transparency involved.

The matters which have come to light go to the heart of a failure of good corporate governance.

Up until I concluded my term as Chair in November, 2022, I was not made aware of the issue relating to these payments. I, and my colleagues on the Board, should have been comprehensively briefed on all aspects of the payments and the manner in which they were dealt with in the accounts. The issue did not emerge until after an audit of the 2022 accounts.

The reputation of RTÉ has sadly been damaged and this most serious situation is deeply upsetting and unsettling for the many staff, in all aspects of the work of RTÉ who give their best to the national broadcaster with their talent and their commitment.


11:37

This tweet will give you a sense of just how significant this story is.

We’re mugs ... A depressingly accurate assessment of what has happened from Newstalk’s Kieran Cuddihy yesterday evening.


11:33
Chair of the RTÉ board Siún Ní Raghallaigh  during an interview on RTÉ's Six One News programme on Thursday

It is worth noting that while the story has been featured extensively on all of RTÉ's news and current affairs programmes on both radio and television since it broke yesterday afternoon, the programmes have found executives very hard to come by with none being made available apart from one appearance by RTÉ's chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh. Speaking on the channel’s flagship news programme on Thursday night she said that the crisis was “very damaging. We have to build that trust up again. The full report is here.


11:24

Journalist and former Minister Shane Ross wasn’t pulling his punches either.


11:22

The story was covered extensively on Prime Time last night. It is fair to say that contributors weren’t holding back in their criticism. First up is Terry Prone.


11:20

Yesterday evening, the broadcaster at the centre of the crisis released a statement. It might be worth recapping what Ryan Tubridy said.

“Like many people, I’m surprised by the announcements made in RTE’s statement today regarding the errors in the reporting of its accounts.

“It is unfortunate that these errors are in relation to how RTÉ have reported payments made to me but I just want to be clear: this is a matter for RTÉ and I have no involvement in RTÉ's internal accounting treatment or RTÉ's public declarations in connection with such payments.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed to be at the centre of this story but unfortunately, I can’t shed any light on why RTÉ treated these payments in the way that they did, nor can I answer for their mistakes in this.”


11:18

“The repeated publication of misleading figures has dealt a drastic blow to its credibility as a public service tasked with setting the agenda for informed debate and holding power to account,” writes Arthur Beesley. “Thanks to its own actions, the broadcaster has severely undermined its long campaign for more public funding.


10:34

Introducing the Ryan Tubridy radio show which runs after Morning Ireland Mr Callan said it was a “bit of a weird Friday”. Referring to newspaper headlines he said the media “do enjoy a good old RTÉ scandal and boy did RTÉ whip up and serve a cool one for them with a flake on top and sprinkles of shambles”.

He asked the public contacting the show to bear in mind the “the ordinary decent staff of the program have been working away as they always do very, very early in the morning” and would be receiving those messages.

“I’d say for everyone involved yesterday was like starring in a mini private episode of [TV show] Succession with bombshells and the media chatter and phones buzzing and who’s going to get the blame for this and watching the thing about yourself on the news and television with a fresh pair of underpants within lunging distance I’d imagine for everyone concerned,” Mr Callan said.


10:33

The chairperson of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has called for the former director general of RTÉ Dee Forbes to come back before the committee to explain the payments to Ryan Tubridy. Mr Stanley was speaking on Morning Ireland and Newstalk Breakfast when he said the national broadcaster had been involved in “dodgy accountancy practices.”

The details which had emerged on Thursday were shocking and “not a pretty picture”. There were a lot of questions that needed to be answered and the PAC had been misled by senior staff in RTÉ on a number of occasions. The finances of RTÉ had been “very tricky” over the last few years, he said.

It would be helpful if Dee Forbes came before the PAC again to “give a full account” as she was the person who had been on the RTÉ management team, he said. Mr Stanley said he accepted that sometimes a witness before the committee could mistakenly give the wrong information, but when details were given in writing “you expect it to be accurate” he said.

“What happened here is that we were actually lied to on a number of occasions. So it would be helpful if going forward, Dee Forbes came out and set the record straight about this. “What I want to know is that who set up this dodgy accountancy practices? Who set it off? Who signed off on it? And who knew about it and why?” Mr Stanley said he had spoken to some RTÉ staff on Thursday and they were “very, very annoyed about all of this.”

Former RTÉ group commercial director Willie O’Reilly told Newstalk Breakfast that he was “utterly shocked” at the revelations “Who thought this was a good idea?” Mr O’Reilly agreed that answers should be given to the PAC and there should be both internal and external independent investigations into what had happened. “This is really questionable and seemingly unethical behaviour.”

Mr Stanley told Morning Ireland that there needed to be accountability. “I’m personally very, very disappointed because we’ve already had senior staff including Dee Forbes in front of our committee a number of times in the last three years. And we were given firm commitments that pay across the top 10 presenters was being reduced. Not alone did that not happen in this case, in actual fact, €75,000 has been added on, €50,000 has been added on.”

Mr Stanley said that it was his understanding that Ms Forbes would remain on the payroll of RTÉ until July 10th so she was technically still an employee of the station and as such should return to appear before the PAC to explain what had happened. “There are questions that need to be answered.”

“What we need to see here and now, is a very upfront 100 per cent disclosure, not bits and pieces, not news management, not information in drips and drabs? We need people to come out that knew about this. “This isn’t very complicated. This needs to be sorted out quickly. We need to all the facts upon the table and people are held accountable.”


10:22

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland Cearbhall Ó Siocháin the secretary of the RTÉ group of trade unions said workers reaction was “largely one of fury and disappointment” at the news of the secret payments.

Mr Ó Siocháin said the revelation was “another sort of own goal and unavoidable and real catastrophe almost.” It was particularly hard to take given the difficult negotiations over cost cutting measures sought by the broadcaster during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In January 2021, we were in negotiations for €60 million cost cutting measures and we were shown the books. And it was explained to us how things were particularly difficult for the [the broadcaster] financially at the moment. And it just defies belief, really,” he said.

“We will be seeking to meet with the chair of the board and get good engagement. The questions really are quite simple. Why and how did this happen? Who initiated it and who greenlit it? Why was it conducted in such a fashion that makes it look like it was a secret deal or that the money would be hidden? And why, and how was this not spotted over six years, these discrepancies?”

RTÉ said it asked accountants Grant Thornton to examine the matter. “I imagine that once Grant Thornton goes through to the review, we expect that to be transparent and speedy and that it may throw up further questions,” Mr Ó Siocháin said.


Read More

Recommended