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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
David Young

Incoming RTE director general must take ‘decisive action’ at broadcaster

PA Wire

The incoming director general of RTE must take “decisive action” and ask some senior executives at the broadcaster to stand aside, the chairman of an influential parliamentary committee has said.

Kevin Bakhurst, who will take charge of RTE next week, is meeting with Media Minister Catherine Martin on Thursday as the crisis within Ireland’s public service broadcaster continues to spiral.

RTE has been rocking since revelations last month that it under-reported the salary paid to star presenter Ryan Tubridy and failed to disclose 345,000 euro of additional payments to him between 2017 and 2022.

The furore has since widened amid further disclosures about RTE’s internal financial, accounting and governance practices.

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, who chairs the Oireachtas parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, said “substantial change” was required.

“Kevin Bakhurst comes in a couple of days’ time, the new director general, he needs to take decisive action,” Mr Stanley told RTE Radio One.

“And I think one of the first things he needs to do is that he needs to ask some of the senior executives to stand to one side. Obviously, you want to keep them accountable, so that means keeping them on the payroll, unfortunately, keeping them as employees of it.

“But they do need to step to one side straightaway. That’s the minimum that’s required here.”

Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly have expressed a willingness to co-operate with two parliamentary committee probes into the payments and governance scandal at RTE.

A solicitor representing the men has written to both the Media Committee and Public Accounts Committee indicating a desire to clarify a number of matters and provide “important information”.

Mr Stanley said he hoped the men could appear before his committee next week.

“I believe that Ryan Tubridy and Noel Kelly need to come in and give their side of it and I welcome the offer there and I look forward to meeting them in public session,” he said.

Chairwoman of RTE’s oversight board Siun Ni Raghallaigh is also attending Thursday’s meeting with Ms Martin, as is interim deputy director general Adrian Lynch.

At a meeting of the Media Committee on Wednesday, Ms Ni Raghallaigh declined to express confidence in RTE’s executive team.

She told the committee she was “deeply unhappy at the evident pattern of inconsistency and lack of completeness in the provision of information” by the senior executives.

“Regrettably, this pattern has persisted, I believe there is a high probability that more information will emerge in the days and weeks ahead,” she said.

The chairwoman added: “I think it is fair to say that it is this culture, of careless stewardship and indifference to proper process, that has sown the seeds of the crisis that has shaken this institution to its core.”

Ms Ni Raghallaigh pre-empted a question on whether she had confidence in the executive by saying a “blanket yes or no” would be deeply damaging to the diverse range of individuals from different parts of the organisation that make up that group – as well as the staff that report to them.

She said she was taking legal advice on emerging issues.

Former director general Dee Forbes quit last week amid the fall out from the scandal.

She had originally been due to stand down this month, with experienced media executive Mr Bakhurst having already been announced as her successor.

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