PAC to grill RTÉ executives again
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will meet again today where they will question RTÉ Executives after Ryan Tubridy and Noel Kelly contradicted accounts given last week by RTE’s senior staff.
One of the main issues they will be seeking clarification on is a claim by former chief financial officer Breda O’Keefe that when Noel Kelly asked for the €75,000 to be underwritten by RTE that it was refused by the broadcaster. According to her, this remained her stance until she left in March 2020.
Mr Kelly has robustly refuted the claim and provided an email to the committees sent by Ms O'Keefe to Mr Kelly in which she states: “We can provide you with a side letter to underwrite this fee for the duration of the contract”.
Breda O'Keefe wrote to the Public Accounts Committee on Monday to say she won't be available to appear at the hearing today. The former chair of the RTE Board Moya Doherty will also not be in attendance, saying that “regrettably I am not in a position to attend the proceedings”.
However, Kevin Bakhurst, the new Director General of RTE, will be one of those facing the committee along with other executives. Meanwhile, RTE staff staged another protest on the Donnybrook campus yesterday afternoon, calling for reform within the organisation and improved government funding for public service broadcasting.
At the 6 hour committee grillings on Tuesday, Ryan Tubridy said seven untruths had been told about him and his RTÉ payments. In a dramatic opening statement, Mr Tubridy said some of the untruths circulating included that he did not take a pay cut from RTE, and that his decision to retire from 'The Late Late Show’ was prompted by the scandal.
In addition, he said that he had been “cancelled” in recent weeks and denied he that he was overpaid. He stated that it was his wish to stay working at RTE but said that he could be “out of a job by Friday”.
However, Mr Tubridy did accept that he was “not without blame” and admitted that he should have called out the incorrect figures that were reported in January 2021.
Cork TD James O’Connor (FF), who is a member of PAC, said many of the documents released by Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly in advance of the meeting had “improved his standing” and told Newstalk thst he “came out better than he went into” the PAC meeting. However, his future hangs in the balance with public opinion, the views of colleagues, and commercial viability all considerations which will be taken into account by Director General Kevin Bakhurst.
Speaking on 'The Last Word' on Today FM, he said that a decision on Ryan’s future with the broadcaster will not be made this week. “It’s a big decision and I need to properly consider it,” he said. “I need to talk to members of staff. I need to talk to the new leadership team. I won’t be taking it on my own but it will be my responsibility in the end,” he added.
Asked what Ryan had done wrong that would justify him being let go by RTE he had this to say. “I don’t want to get into directly criticising him. I like him, he’s a very bright guy and an extremely good broadcaster and I don’t like seeing any individual’s reputation being trashed the way it has been over the past few weeks, “ he said. “I feel for him personally. I hope given time, wherever it is, he will restart his career. But we have to make a decision about what the right thing for RTE is in the end,” he added.