RTÉ executives grilled for four hours at Oireachtas committee: As it happened

Top executives and board members from national broadcaster spent more than four hours being grilled by Oireachtas committee

RTE oireachtas committee on Tubridy payments

21:00

RTÉ pay controversy: Where are we now?

  • Four top executives and three board members at RTÉ appeared before the Oireachtas Arts and Media Committee over the Ryan Tubridy pay controversy
  • Hearing told deal done with Patrick Kielty over Late Late Show role could be made public within days if presenter agrees
  • Concerns over culture at RTÉ highlighted at hearing
  • Catherine Martin said the hearing revealed a shocking failure of governance at senior management level in RTÉ
  • Role of Tubridy agent, Noel Kelly, comes under the spotlight repeatedly as TDs and Senators ask what his role is in dealings with broadcaster
  • RTÉ executives accept that when paying some presenters large sums they are sometimes bidding against themselves
  • RTÉ says negotiations about Ryan Tubridy’s radio contract have been paused. Tubridy, however, disputes the claim he is out of contract. Read Arthur Beesley’s story
  • RTÉ published a nine-page statement yesterday evening on €225,000 in hidden Tubridy payments in 2020-2022, while disclosing nothing new about undeclared payments of €120,000 in 2017-2019. Arthur Beesley has an analysis
  • Today is key as the next steps in the secret payments drama will be determined by politics. Jack Horgan-Jones asks do politicians have it in for RTÉ, or does RTÉ have it in for politicians? He talks more about the day of reckoning for RTÉ in his political digest
  • Olivia Kelly gives a timeline on who did what and when, according to the RTÉ report
  • In the Dáil chamber, the Tubsgate affair was giving people a bit of a fit of the vapours, writes Miriam Lord
  • One of our most read RTÉ pieces is by Fintan O’Toole, who says, ‘Ryan Tubridy chose silence instead of speaking out. An extended silence should follow

21:05

Colm Keena also cast the rule over the performance of the politicians cross-examining RTÉ's representatives here.

Perhaps the most successful questioning came near the end, from non-committee member Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit. He framed his questions around the proposition that the cost-cutting drive at RTÉ encountered “push back” from Tubridy or his agent, and that, because of the credit arrangement entered into with Renault it was never the case that anyone other than the public – by way of the licence fee – was going to pay for the deal that was negotiated.

Lynch appeared to agree with both propositions.


21:03

If you’re just catching up, here are the major developments of the day at the committee in more at-a-glance form in Colm Keena’s piece.


19:11

And in, um, late late breaking news RTÉ is reporting just now that Patrick Kielty has “expressed his wishes to make his fee for presenting The Late Late Show public once it goes through the appropriate processes, including the remuneration committee of the broadcaster. RTÉ and Mr Kielty are understood to be revisiting the issues of making it public.”


19:08

The Minister with responsibility for the media Catherine Martin has responded to today’s hearings. This is the statement in full.

“Today’s appearance at the Media Committee has revealed a shocking failure of governance at senior management level in RTÉ. This has not calmed the considerable disquiet about the lack of accountability at RTÉ in the public domain.

“At tomorrow’s meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, it is vital the Executive Board engages in as transparent a manner as possible, and I urge those present to responsibly account for the decisions taken which have seriously damaged the public’s trust in public service broadcasting.

“My focus remains on the external review of governance and culture at RTÉ and, to that end, today I have had constructive meetings with the RTÉ Trade Union Group and Screen Producers Ireland.

“Furthermore, the four week timeline for the delivery of the second Grant Thornton report does not reflect the urgency of the situation and I have asked for that to be accelerated.”


18:34

Round one over then. Senior executives appeared before the Oireachtas arts and media committee today to address the crisis over the secret payments made to presenter Ryan Tubridy in what must rank as one of the most widely anticipated and most watched hearings ever.

As political reporter Jack Horgan Jones noted, the RTÉ representatives had a tricky task. They had to ride two horses at the same time. “On the one hand, they’re trying to sound as apologetic as possible, while on the other, cleaving closely to a statement which members have said leaves the blame squarely at the door of Dee Forbes,” he wrote earlier today.

While it was uncomfortable watching at time it wasn’t as fractious as it might have been.

In so far as CFO Richard Collins and head of commercial Geraldine O’Leary were aware of transactions involving Tubridy, they made it clear that everything had been done with blessing of Dee Forbes, who was “categorically” the one who made the decision to use the barter account to pay the presenter.

The acting deputy DG Adrian Lynch emphasised Forbes’ verbal commitment to underwrite the commercial deal that saw Renault commit to paying €75,000 per year to Tubridy and said this was “absolutely critical”.

It also emerged that Ms Forbes had been suspended pending a disciplinary process, with legal advisors appointed and a subcommittee of the board set up. That process has been ended by her resignation.

But that wasn’t all. She was also asked to resign by the board on June 16th, days before the story became public.

There was also considerable focus on the deal being done with Patrick Kielty over his Late Late Show role and how much he is set to earn could be made public within days but only if the presenter agrees.

The role of Tubridy’s agent Noel Kelly came in for some scrutiny with several TDs and senators asking what his dealings with the broadcaster are and how many of his clients are employed by RTE.

RTE executives also accepted that when paying some presenters large sums they are sometimes bidding against themselves and did not demur in the face of criticism of inflated salaries.

Round two comes tomorrow when the RTE executives are set to appear before the Public Accounts Committee.


18:03

And so the meeting is over.

Independent TD Michael McNamara asked Siún Ní Raghallaigh the last question and that was whether or not the position of the board was tenable.

This is what she had to say

“I would say that when this came to light, when the board learned of the discrepancy, we immediately took action and that that took the form of getting Grant Thornton in.”

She said that the board had received that report on a Friday and “by the following Thursday we had the statement”.

“I think we acted with the information that we had, we acted immediately, we understood the seriousness of it and we took the steps and we can stand over the process that we undertook in order to do that.

“And I think yes that’s our job and we fulfilled our job we brought this to light and within that we see that even in our own process as the board as opposed to the executive board that there are areas where we can tighten up on as well I think that this shook everybody and I’m actually proud of what we did in terms of bringing it to light. I think it’s raised a lot of questions and as I said earlier... public service broadcasting in a democracy we have to have [it] we have to get this right we have to bring trust back to RTE and that’s our job as well as a board and in order to do that we have to make a lot of changes over the next while.”


17:22

It’s a fair - some might say Stunning - question.

Turns out they didn’t just accept the resignation, they asked for it days earlier.


17:18

There is also this.


17:17

And this


17:16

We have some footage from our video team.


17:11

When asked by independent TD Michael McNamara about the high wages being paid to “talent” Mr Lynch noted that the “entire media industry is shifting and I think over time you’ll see that fees will shift with that. It’s more internationalized now and so on so in terms of this market it has changed significantly in the last five years six years in terms of fee levels... I think in terms of top talent that has come down by would be about by about 40 per cent and much of that is driven by the fact that how people consume media has changed.


17:00

So, the hearing was set to last for three hours.... It has been on for three hours and 30 minutes and not running out of steam yet.

The staff representative on the RTE Board, Robert Shortt, said it was his position and that of many staff that they are “uncomfortable” with the very high salaries that are paid to some presenters. The broadcasting industry was changing “at lightening speed” and the share of the station’s income coming from the licence feel had increased. RTE was becoming a public service broadcaster as the share of its income from the commercial sector declined. Many staff were welcoming the coming cultural and governance review. Colm Keena


16:56

Attention set to turn towards Kielty

The chairwoman of the committee Niamh Smyth asks about the deal on the table for Patrick Kielty, the new presenter of the Late Late Show. Ms Ní Raghallaigh says it has yet to come before the renumeration committee but should do so on Friday.

Mr Lynch says that there are “two parties to that deal so it will depend on the other party” if the deal is made public.

Ms Smyth said that she was “sure you can have a conversation with that other party tomorrow [and] how soon can you make this committee and the public aware of what that deal comprises?

Mr Lynch says that if Kielty is “satisfied” the “we can then publish it”.

The chairwoman says that if “things going well there’s no reason why this committee can’t be fully informed of this as early as Friday evening or Monday morning at the latest, is that a fair assumption?”

She also asks that if “somebody is not in agreement with that I would ask you that you would inform the committee of that.”


16:45

Siún Ní Raghallaigh has just been asked why she did not say on the RTE news last Thursday that Ms Forbes was suspended. It has also emerged that the resignation of Ms Forbes was sought but not forthcoming on Friday June 16h.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh said that “we couldn’t say she was suspended because of labour laws however we took the decision that we would take that on board and make it public that she was suspended because the damage that was being done to the organization outweighed whatever the risk was of saying that publicly.”


16:23

Adrian Lynch says the broadcaster will consider a register of interests for staff, and that if Patrick Kielty is not opposed, to it they will publish the arrangement for his hosting of the Late Late Show.


15:52

And two new lines from Colm Keena

Responding to Alan Dillon, the interim director general Adrian Lynch said it could be seen from the reports on the controversy that had been published that the relationship between the executive board members was quite siloed. “You can see there is a lot of bad practice.”

The group head of commercial, Geraldine O’Leary, said that an Arthur Cox review of the payments made to Tubridy had concluded there was nothing fraudulent or illegal about the transactions.


15:48

More from Jack Horgan Jones.


15:44

A question of culture?


15:39

Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick suggests that someone somewhere is “lying”. He asks if anyone of the seven people appearing before the committee today are friends with former DG Dee Forbes and suggests that she has been thrown under the bus [and] “you don’t throw your friends under a bus.” He adds that if the execs worked for him they “wouldn’t be working for me tomorrow.”


15:28

No such thing as a free car?


15:21

Incidentally, Bosco, his magic door and Forty Coats (ask your parents, kids) made a surprise appearance at the Oireachtas hearing. Sadly, there were not there in person but were referenced by Christopher O’Sullivan at the conclusion of his contribution to suggest that there was funny business going on at the national broadcaster.


15:17

And we have more from our other man on the ground, Colm Keena.

“Asked by Marie Sherlock whether she was presiding over a dysfunctional executive, Ni Raghallaigh said there was very much a cultural problem within RTE.

“This is why we are here. It is a culture that is in there that accepts that, well, that is approved by the [director general] so I am not going to talk about it.

“And I think all of the people here would agree now that that’s wrong… For me that was a shocking part of it as well, that there wasn’t the conversation that we all assumed would happen. But each of them in their each own individual area, as you said, it was siloed.”

Ms Ni Raghallaigh was asked about the high fees paid to the station’s top presenters when “there had only been two major defections” from the station to another broadcaster in the past thirty years.

“I absolutely believe that it is something that we definitely have to look at and I would argue that RTE is sometimes bidding against itself because there isn’t a market there. It is certainly something that the incoming [director general] and myself have talked about… along with the issue of agents.”


15:14

Things are moving head spinningly fast at today’s Oireachtas hearing into the secret payments made to presenter Ryan Tubridy. Luckily we have our man on the ground Jack Horgan Jones to give us a snapshot of what has happened so far.

No standout moment so far from the committee, which has seen RTÉ trying to ride two horses at the same time. On the one hand, they’re trying to sound as apologetic as possible, while on the other, cleaving closely to a statement which members have said leaves the blame squarely at the door of Dee Forbes.

We found out that Ryan Tubridy was “credited” the €120,000 despite the fact that the broadcaster says a payment at the end of his contract was not made. The €120k is under investigation.

To the extent that CFO Richard Collins and head of commercial Geraldine O’Leary were aware of transactions, both are effectively saying everything was done with the blessing of Dee Forbes, who was “categorically” the one who made the decision to use the barter account

Adrian Lynch is putting an enormous emphasis on Forbes’ verbal commitment to underwrite the commercial deal that saw Renault commit to paying €75,000 per year to Tubridy. He said this was “absolutely critical”, which draws the focus again very much on the actions of the former DG.

It emerged that Dee Forbes had been suspended pending a disciplinary process, with legal advisors appointed and a subcommittee of the board set up. That process has been ended by her resignation.

Execs said they aren’t aware of anything that resembles the Tubridy deal for people outside the Top 10 earners (who have already said they don’t have similar deals)

RTÉ were told that a lack of communication between the head of commercial and the CFO about the “consultancy fee” transactions which were going to Tubridy shows an “utter dysfunction as an executive”, something that chair Siun Ni Rahaillaigh didn’t back away from when it was put to her.


14:44

This is another key moment in the early exchanges.

Another key point.

More from Colm Keena.

Asked by Marie Sherlock about the two €75,000 payments to Ryan Tubridy in 2022, the chief financial officer, Richard Collins, said that “from a control point of view” he took comfort from the fact that they were approved by the then director general, Dee Forbes.

The staff representative on the board, Robert Shortt, said his colleagues at the station are angry but also “acutely aware of the need to keep doing their jobs.” Asked how trust could be restored, he said he believed the station should keep finding out what had gone on “until you guys have no more questions to ask us”.


14:42

Grilled is probably the right word for it alright.


14:41

Tough week for sure.


14:38

More from Jack


14:35

“I have no faith in this cabal to tell us the truth,” Mr McGrath says concluding his contribution.


14:31

Colm Keena has some more

The interim director general Adrian Lynch said he was “incredibly ashamed” that this had happened while he was sitting on the executive board. It was a corporate governance issue, not an editorial issue, he said.

He also said the critical issue was the giving of a verbal guarantee that RTE would underwrite the commercial arrangement that was agreed between a commercial sponsor [Renault] and Mr Tubridy.

Responding to Mattie McGrath, Ms Ni Raghaillaigh said it was a decision of the board to accept Ms Forbes resignation. Mr McGrath said the board could have refused to accept the resignation. The decision allowed Ms Forbes “to get away”, he said.


14:23

Mattie McGrath is next up asking why was the resignation of Dee Forbes accepted on Monday.

The chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh says she heard about the resignation as it was released by Ms Forbes and says it was a decision of the board to accept it.

“Another disastrous decision,” he says.

When asked who he wants to answer another question, Mr McGrath says “whoever”.

The selects Adrian Lynch.

“What was the question,” Mr Lynch asks to laughter in the chamber.

Mr McGrath then condenses his monologue to the terse “Who are ye lying to?”

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the question is not really addressed.

He also says “Putin wouldn’t get away with some of the tricks” being deployed by the national broadcaster.

After another long interlude from the TD he asks again

“Who are ye lying to?”

Mr Lynch says “Who are we lying to about what?”

“Loyal,” Mr McGrath says, stressing that he wasn’t accusing anyone of lying.


13:55

Question from Imelda Munster are - how shall we put this - robust. Will be interesting to see if she sets the tone for the next few hours. I suspect she might.

More from Jack

Couple of interesting questions from Fianna Fail senator Shane Cassells to acting deputy director general Adrian Lynch. He asked about the influence of Ryan Tubridy’s agent Noel Kelly and how it was possible he could have negotiated the deal for his client. And he was asked if Ryan Tubridy would be back on air with RTE. Mr Lynch didn’t answer either question in great detail other than to so anyone is entitled to representation and it was the job of Noel Kelly to work in the best interests of his clients and that Tubridy was not currently on air “for editorial reasons”.


13:51

A spokeswoman for RTÉ has said that Director of Content Jim Jennings has not come to Leinster House today as he is in hospital following a procedure

Jack Horgan Jones is live tweeting the hearings.


13:47

Siún Ní Raghallaigh full statement.

At the outset, I wish to reiterate our profound regret regarding what has emerged in recent days.

RTE fell far short of the standards expected of us as an organisation.

I apologise for this egregious breach of trust with the public.

1am also mindful that this Committee, and others, were in the past presented with information that was simply untrue. That was a breach of trust with you, the elected members of the Oireachtas, for which we sincerely apologise.

The public, RTE staff, and public representatives are angry and hurt.

We know that our bond of trust with the public is tarnished.

We know that trust is precious, and that once lost, trust is difficult to regain.

Step by step we will work to rebuild that trust.

We will not flinch in this regard.

We know that this will be challenging, but we are committed to doing so, in order that confidence in Ireland’s national public service broadcaster can be restored.

We are committed to providing you with as much detail as possible and we wish to be as open and frank as we can

As you know, and as set out in our statement of last week, in late March of this year during a routine audit of RTE’s 2022 accounts, an issue was identified in relation to the transparency of certain payments.

The auditors sought further information and informed the Audit and Risk Committee of the RTE

Board of their concerns. The Audit and Risk Committee promptly commissioned Grant Thornton to carry out the independent fact-finding review on the matter in question.

The facts were established by Grant Thornton and presented to the Audit and Risk Committee of the

RTE Board on Friday 16 June 2023 and then to the RT Board the following Monday June 19 2023.

On receiving the Grant Thornton findings, the Board asked RTE to conduct an internal review of earnings paid to Mr Tubridy in previous years, and through that review it was identified that Mr.

Tubridy’s remuneration had been understated by RTE by a figure of €120,000 over the contract period of 2017-2019. To be clear, this was understated in the figures that were published by RTE relating to the top 10 highest earning on air presenters, which in turn were communicated to Government and the Oireachtas and to the public. Mr Tubridy’s earnings were correctly accounted for in the RTE accounts, and the earnings he received were what he was contractually entitled to. In addition, for the record, I want to confirm that he did not receive an exit fee.

The circumstances that led to this understatement by RTE are currently under examination by a second Grant Thornton review and the findings of that review are expected within four weeks. Why this figure was understated - and by whom - that is the question we as a Board are also very anxious to know the answer to.

Within four days of the first Grant Thornton review being received by the RTE Board on Monday June 19th, the Board released a statement outlining our understanding of Mr Tubridy’s earnings, including for the period 2017 -2019.

This issue has remained under active review and yesterday RTE issued a further statement, detailing its understanding of what happened, how it happened, and who was responsible for different aspects of the arrangement.

The full Grant Thornton fact finding review was also published yesterday,

Separately, we will of course be working closely with all aspects of the Government appointed independent, external review process when it commences.

I also wish at this point to acknowledge the upset and distress being caused to the independent production sector in Ireland, a community I know well. Their wellbeing is very much contingent on the wellbeing of RTÉ also.

As I have said previously, RTE is an organisation of more than 1,800 people. I apologise to each and every one of them for the distress they are experiencing as they deal with the shadow that has fallen over this organisation.

I want to assure this Committee and the public that the Board is committed to ensuring that we get full clarity on this, that there is accountability for it, and that it never happens again.

In conclusion I wish to say that today we will endeavour, to the very best of our ability, to answer, all questions you may put to us.

As public representatives you deserve nothing less.


13:34

Some breaking news from the Oireachtas hearings...

Here is is.

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It appears that Oireachtas TV - which, to be honest, is not the most wildly popular TV station in the world in the normal course of things - has crashed.


13:22

Ryan Tubridy is in conflict with RTÉ's over his contract, disputing the broadcaster’s claim that the arrangement came to an end when he stood down from The Late Late Show.

In a development that compounds controversy over the star presenter’s payment, Mr Tubridy has dismissed RTÉ's assertion that he is out of contract.

An authoritative source close to Mr Tubridy, who is off the air this week because of the ructions over his hidden pay, the star presenter has challenged RTÉ's argument. In addition, Mr Tubridy is understood to be taking legal advice on the status of the contract settled in 2020.

The source said Mr Tubridy “does not accept” the contract is terminated. “There is precedent for contracts of this nature that they are amended to reflect the fact the TV element of the contract is coming to an end – and that a value is assigned to TV and to radio and that a new figure is agreed going forward,” the source said. Arthur Beesley has the full story.


13:17

Here is the story from Sarah Burns

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he does not believe it is “credible” that former RTÉ director general Dee Forbes was “the only person with knowledge” of the hidden payments made to presenter Ryan Tubridy.

Mr Varadkar also said while the State broadcaster’s statement on Tuesday “shed some light on what has transpired, a lot of questions remain open”.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said a further Grant Thornton review in relation to non-disclosed payments made at RTÉ between 2017 and 2019 would be concluded within four weeks, and the Government did not believe this timeline was “satisfactory” and have asked for it to be provided “more quickly than that”.

Mr Varadkar said the Government also expected “a full and open engagement” from RTÉ executives at the Oireachtas committees this afternoon and tomorrow.

“Certainly we do not believe it is credible that the former DG Dee Forbes was the only person with knowledge of these events,” he added.

“Government and the public expect nothing but full and open transparency from RTÉ executives and board members when they attend committees of these houses today and tomorrow.”

Mr Varadkar said executives should explain at the committee hearings why it would take four weeks to put the information regarding 2017-2019 in the public domain.

“I don’t understand that and the minister [Catherine Martin] doesn’t understand that either, and we’ve made that clear,” he said.

The Fine Gael leader said the revelations from RTÉ last week were “deeply unsettling” and have “shaken public trust in what is an important institution”.

“We want to see trust restored quickly because we need to have a strong and effective public service broadcaster for our State,” he said.

Mr Varadkar was responding to Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty, who said RTÉ had “finally released” some “selective information” on Tuesday but that it “skirts around the issues that are at the heart of this fiasco”.

“It leaves more questions than answers,” he said.

“Reading the RTÉ statement, you would be led to believe that Dee Forbes was the only person who knew about this, but that simply isn’t credible.

“More than half of the executive board had knowledge about the commercial contract at a time of pay cuts for workers in RTÉ, at a time when people were struggling to pay the annual license fee during a cost of living crisis, in order to falsely portray that Ryan Tubridy was taking a pay cut, RTÉ created a sweetheart deal and an elaborate plan to cover it up.”

The Donegal TD added that “we have got to get to the bottom of this quickly” and the State had “absolutely no idea whatsoever” from RTÉ's latest statement about what happened in 2017, 2018 and 2019 regarding payments to Ryan Tubridy.

“If there is to be full transparency, the public need to know about these payments,” he said. “It is not acceptable that we’re being asked to wait another month for more information to be released.”

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said despite RTÉ's lengthy statement, “we are still in the dark today”. Ms Bacik said the direct impact on those working in RTÉ could not be “overestimated” and urged the Government to include workers rights issues in their external review, and that it was “essential”.


13:16

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he does “not believe its credible” that the only senior person in RTÉ who knew of the secret payments to Ryan Tubridy was the former director general Dee Forbes.

While he accepted that the RTÉ statement yesterday had offered some insight into how the controversy unfolded, questions remain and he expects “full and open engagement” by RTÉ executives with the Oireachtas Committee on Media and the Public Accounts Committee.


12:54

Today is going to be a day of questions. Jack Horgan Jones has just some that might be asked.


12:18

We have some news from Jack Horgan Jones

The Dáil is set to approve extra powers to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) ahead of its session with RTÉ executives tomorrow.

In the normal course of events, PAC is confined to examining, in detail, the finances of state bodies overseen by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG).

That doesn’t include RTÉ.

However, under Dáil standing orders , that remit can be expanded allowing it to “examine and report upon a specific matter of general public interest relating to the appropriation of public moneys”. This is subject to approval by the Committee on Remit Oversight and a Dáil vote.

Members of PAC were this morning told the first element has been secured and that the Government chief whip will seek a Dáil vote on the matter during an unrelated motion. Another couple of arcane steps later, and PAC should have the new powers.

This should allow it a freer reign tomorrow, and will give members extra assurances that they won’t face charges of exceeding their brief in questioning.


11:54

Sinn Féin’s Chief Whip, Padraig Mac Lochlainn, has said that he thought it was a fair and reasonable request that the fee that will be paid to the new Late Late Show presenter, Patrick Kielty, is made public. “I think it would be absolutely untenable to not bring that information into the public domain,” he told RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

“I think there’s a culture in the higher echelons of organisations but whatever about the private sector, it is unacceptable in the public sector to have this type of an approach – this sort of sense of entitlement where you can make obscure arrangements around payments.

“And I think people are outraged about that. I think the people who are the good people, the decent people, the vast majority of people in RTÉ, who believe in public broadcasting, who carry themselves with integrity and fairness and balance, they feel utterly betrayed. You can see the hurt and anger that’s there. So, we owe it to them to reinstate the good reputation of public service broadcasting.” – Vivenne Clarke


11:03

RTÉ has issued a statement to the Claire Byrne Show about whether or not the annual sum of €75,000 is still being paid to Ryan Tubridy. In essence, the statement makes it clear that it is no longer being paid and that his contract was being renegotiated following his resignation from The Late Late Show. There were new negotiations about his radio contract, which have been put on hold.


10:31

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan, who is a member of the Oireachtas Media Committee has said that the questioning of RTÉ executives will be “forensic” and he did not want any “fudging”. The Committee was seeking transparency and answers to the many outstanding questions, he said on Morning Ireland.

He said, however, he feared there would be deflections and that the meeting of the Oireachtas committee “could prove a futile exercise”.

“We need the likes of the chief financial officer in the committee today to be able to answer some of the questions. We need the likes of the head of commercial, who has been there since 2018, so you’d imagine would have good oversight and good knowledge of what’s transpired. So, that’s the first issue for me.

The current chairperson of the RTÉ Board, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, and Interim Deputy Director General, Adrian Lynch, will attend the meeting.

”I think it’s absolutely ridiculous if they’re the only two who appear in front of us. We have TDs and Senators who have a lot of serious questions that the public are posing that we need answered,” said Mr O’Sullivan as he pointed to “contradictions” between the RTÉ statement and the statement by former DG Dee Forbes about who had knowledge of the barter deal for part of Ryan Tubridy’s fee.

”Clearly, other people were aware of elements of what was going on. We need to dig deeper into that. We need to find out exactly who knew what because, to be honest, it’s not credible really, that only one person knew. When you think about the amounts that we’re talking about, €345,000 of TV license holders’ money. And it’s not credible to think that the former director general Dee Forbes is the only one who could have been aware of what was going on, especially when they talk about the element of the non-disclosure of payments, which is one element. But, for me, probably the even more scandalous element of this is the guaranteeing of the payment from a third party.

“It beggars belief to think that a semi-state would use TV license holders’ money, and indeed taxpayers’, money to guarantee a payment from a third party when that third party pulled out.

“I think that is really what’s getting under people’s skin at the moment.”

Mr O’Sullivan explained that each member of the media committee will have eight minutes to ask questions. They will speak on a roster so there will be no question of having to raise their hand to speak.


10:03

The RTÉ attendees are in for this afternoon’s Oireachtas hearing.

From the RTÉ board:

  • Siún Ní Raghallaigh (chair)
  • Robert Shortt (RTÉ staff rep on board)
  • Anne O’Leary

From the executive management team:

  • Adrian Lynch, interim deputy director general
  • Geraldine O’Leary, commercial director
  • Richard Collins, chief financial officer
  • Rory Coveney, director of strategy

Jack Horgan Jones writes that the list represents most – but not all – of those who the committee had sought. Jim Jennings, the director of content, is not going to Leinster House. According to RTÉ's statement on Tuesday, Mr Jennings was a signatory of Ryan Tubridy’s “Five Year Contract” and also signed a letter providing for early termination of his previous contract.

RTÉ said on Tuesday he was “kept informed of the progress of the negotiations and, ultimately, signed the ‘Five Year Contract’ for TV and radio services and the letter providing for the early termination of Ryan Tubridy’s previous radio and TV contract”.

Regarding the later tri-partite agreement with Renault, the broadcaster said that “he was aware of elements of the commercial agreement but not RTÉ's underwriting of it” and he “received” the agreement.


09:59

People are just furious

RTÉ's NUJ representative, Emma O’Kelly, has described the station’s deal with Ryan Tubridy as “grubby”.

Speaking to Ivan Yates on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, Ms O’Kelly said that details of the commercial sponsorship deal for Ryan Tubridy reinforced the notionthat there’s one rule for some very highly paid people in the organisation and another rule for all the rest of us”.

Ms O’Kelly said she and her colleagues were subjected to intense scrutiny with regard to all aspects of their job, which could be annoying and irritating, but they understood the rationale behind this level of probity.

“But, then, when we see, you know, RTÉ paying for the hosting of commercial sponsorship events, in relation to Ryan Tubridy. The contradiction there is just enormous.”

There was a sense of outrage among staff, she said. “People are just furious,” especially because for a long time, they have known about the two tier system within the station. Staff in some parts of the country were hamstrung because of “all the shortcomings and the failings” which have been to the fore.

Ms O’Kelly also addressed a protest outside RTÉ's offices on Tuesday. Bryan O’Brien was there to document it


09:56

Nothing more eloquent than vested interests disguised as points of principle

Seamus Dooley had more to say.

What is really important is today does not become some sort of punishment beating for RTÉ or, indeed, that it gives succor to those who are in the long grass who have been attacking public service broadcasting.

“It is within the gift of the executive board to explain in detail, and probably tedious detail, who did what and why. Why did I sign the contract? Why did I not advise Dee Forbes that this bit doesn’t make sense. And that’s necessary. It’s necessary to explain why public money was spent by RTÉ to provide receptions and opportunities for Renault.

“The reality is that RTÉ doesn’t have a crew in the Midlands at the moment, yet RTÉ provided technical staff and facilities for receptions. So, literally, it means giving the committee that information and if they don’t, it will just become a slagging match.

“RTÉ is a very good public service organisation. It serves the public very well. It’s an organization I know probably too well at this stage. The problem is that there are a number of politicians who don’t like public service broadcasting. There are a lot of media commercial companies for whom RTÉ is a rival and there is nothing more eloquent than vested interests disguised as points of principle. And what I would be fearful of is that because of the actions and inactions of the executive board, it just becomes an opportunity to attack RTÉ. And the most unforgivable thing from the staff point of view is that the executive board has allowed this to happen.”


09:53

What the hell is going on?

First, we have the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Seamus Dooley.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, he said that the statement from RTÉ on Tuesday had, in many respects, made matters worse.

What we now know is what happened. We know who was involved but not quite how. For me, the big reason is the why. What the hell is going on? We don’t know why the executive board got involved in this in this way. We do not know why it was deemed appropriate for a special arrangement to be put in place for one individual. I’m also confused as to why some of the executive board were not involved.

“The reports specifically says that the human resources director had no role in it. And what that points to is that there is a special treatment for a class of worker in this organisation and the human resources director is not involved. Not a criticism of her but of the process because, surely, there has to be someone who says, ‘How does that fit with our strategic policy here?’ And that’s a real problem.”


09:46

Good morning and welcome to another day of questions – and maybe even some answers. If the set piece event yesterday was the release of the “comprehensive statement” from the RTÉ board detailing who knew what and when and what did they do with the information, today, all eyes will be on a windowless committee room in Leinster House where some of those who knew something and others who knew nothing will be grilled by TDs and senators. The hearing starts at 1:30pm but we have a lot to catch up on before then.


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