Ryan Tubridy.

PAC seeks answers as Tubridy scandal rumbles on

Marguerite Kiely

In her opening statement to the Oireachtas commitee yesterday, the chair of RTÉ Board Siún Ní Raghallaigh apologised to both the Oireachtas and the public, saying: “We know that our bond of trust with the public is tarnished.”

RTÉ executives will face a further grilling today as they are set to face the powerful Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The focus of the meeting is not only to seek clear answers to lingering questions at the heart of the controversy but also to assess the credibility of RTÉ itself. Members in attendance at the meetings include Richard Collins CFO, Geraldine O’Leary Head of Commerical, Adrian Lynch Interim Deputy Director General and Siún Ní Raghallaigh.

Colm Burke, TD for Cork North Central and member of PAC told the Cork Independent that the committee intends to seek explanations regarding the lack of transparency surrounding Ryan Tubridy's payments.

“Why was there a side deal done when all the top earners were asked to drop their salaries by 15%?” he said. “Also, It just beggars belief that an extra €40,000 euros was paid on top of the initial €75,000 to a barter account.”

He is also seeking to identify the indiviuals who bear responsibility for the payments and said that he didn’t believe Dee Forbes was solely responsible. “That payment has to go through a number of people. I don’t accept that Dee Forbes was the one person who had all the information. A lot of others might have had 80%. They must have been aware of it,” he added.

In this instance, he explained PAC has been granted special powers to delve deeper into the matter. “RTE doesn’t come under the remit of the Public Accounts Committee and we have been granted powers to do a more extensive examination of what’s going on,” he said.

Asked whether the reputation of RTÉ is fatally damaged, he said: “There are very good people in there, but there has to be transparency in relation to all transactions. Every organisation whether it’s public or private, needs to comply with the rules. In this situation there wasn’t full transparency.”

The RTE payments scandal involving Ryan Tubridy continues into its second week, leaving numerous unanswered questions and ongoing turmoil. Recent developments include a resignation, a sequence of statements from RTÉ, staff protests, and a severe erosion of public trust in the state broadcaster.

The crisis was sparked when RTÉ's top-paid presenter was paid €345,000 more than what the Oireachtas and the public were told since 2017. It has led to what Simon Harris described as a “drip-feed of information” from RTÉ without clear answers about who knew about the payments and who sanctioned them.

Former director general Dee Forbes resigned earlier this week saying that she accepted and acknowledged responsibility for her part in the events. However, she stated that the Board of RTÉ did not treat her with “anything approaching the levels of fairness, equity and respect that anyone should expect as an employee, a colleague or a person.”

For his part, RTÉ's interim Deputy Director General Adrian Lynch, in a lengthy report, expressed a clear stance on the matter, holding Dee Forbes accountable. It stated that although certain senior staff at RTÉ had partial knowledge of certain aspects of the agreement, none of them, except for the Director General possessed all the necessary information to comprehend the potential inaccuracies in the publicly disclosed figures for Ryan Tubridy.

RTÉ also confirmed yesterday that Ryan Tubridy is presently not under contract with the broadcaster. In a statement, it clarified that after leaving 'The Late Late Show', the presenter's contract, which was negotiated in 2020, concluded. While negotiations were initiated regarding his radio duties, they have been temporarily halted.