Terence O’Rourke set to be named as new chair of RTÉ board

Three Coalition party leaders have approved suggestion of Catherine Martin to nominate the former KPMG managing partner

The Government is expected to approve the nomination of Terence O’Rourke to be the new chairman of the RTÉ board.

The three leaders of the Coalition parties approved the suggestion of Minister for Media Catherine Martin at their meeting on Monday night, and the appointment will be put to the full Cabinet meeting in the morning for approval.

Mr O’Rourke, a former managing partner of accountancy and consultancy firm KPMG, is also currently the chairman of the ESB, and previously served on the board of The Irish Times.

He will replace Siún Ní Raghallaigh who on Monday strongly criticised Ms Martin over what she called her “enforced dismissal”.

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It is understood Mr O’Rourke was chosen ahead of one other potential candidate, the former HSE chief executive Paul Reid, who was sounded out by the Government last week.

Two other board members are also expected to be appointed on Tuesday.

A graduate of economics and history from UCD, Mr O’Rourke’s involvement in the arts includes stints on the boards of the Dublin Theatre Festival and The Hugh Lane Gallery.

His ESB profile describes him as having a “wide breadth of business skills” with experience across commercial, finance, and strategy development roles in Ireland and abroad.

Last year, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate by Dublin City University (DCU) in acknowledgment of his contribution to Irish business, education, the arts and public services.

An extensive CV includes leading the Arts Council 2014 strategic review group, and his involvement in Chapter Zero Ireland, a non-executive director organisation leading boardroom discussions on climate change.

“It pays to be prepared,” Mr O’Rourke told an Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland conference in 2008. “Companies which understand their climate risks will be best placed to manage those risks, and they will also be able to grasp the competitive advantage that comes with fuller and earlier understanding.”

Mr O’Rourke joined KPMG in 1975, becoming an audit partner in 1988 until his election as managing partner in 2006. He is a fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland.

In his evidence to the Banking Inquiry in 2015, then examining the role of external auditors to the banks, Mr O’Rourke said: “We were not inept. We did a very high-quality audit of AIB – I can assure you of that.”

KPMG was auditor of AIB, which received a State bailout of €21 billion following the 2008 financial crisis.

A former chair of Enterprise Ireland, Mr O’Rourke has also served on the boards of Ballymore Ireland and the Institute of International and European Affairs and he is currently chair of Kinsale Capital Management.

In a strongly-worded statement on Monday that is likely to revive political pressure on Ms Martin, Ms Ní Raghallaigh described the Minister’s recent actions that forced her resignation as “baffling”. Ms Ní Raghallaigh said: “My experience over the past 15 months has been of a Minister actively taking a hands-off approach whilst delegating through her officials.”

The former chair, who resigned after Ms Martin refused to express confidence in her during an RTÉ Prime Time interview, said she had considered RTÉ's exit payment to former chief financial officer Richard Collins to be in the past before Ms Martin raised it during two meetings a fortnight ago. Disagreement over whether the Minister had been properly informed about the deal led to a public clash between Ms Martin and Ms Ní Raghallaigh.

On Monday evening, Ms Martin declined to be drawn into the detail of Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s statement.

In a statement of her own, the Minister said: “An important step forward for RTÉ will be taken tomorrow when I seek Government approval for the appointment of a new chair and additional boards members. Upon appointment I will seek to meet the new chair and the director general in the coming days.”

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