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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Ferghal Blaney

Mystery surrounds secret car 'loan' to prominent RTE personality as more revelations may come

One of RTE’s staff stars had a ‘loan’ of a free car for five years that he gave back on Tuesday.

And the acting editor in chief told the Oireachtas media committee that there may be more.

Adrian Lynch confirmed that a trawl has so far uncovered one car that was an unauthorised perk and that the full probe into benefits in kind is not complete.

He was asked by Senator Eugene Murphy if this meant there may be more “secret cars.”

READ MORE: LIVE: RTE chiefs grilled again as broadcaster's crisis deepens by the hour

Mr Lynch replied, “possibly” and pointed to the fact that there are over 1,800 staff in RTE.

The secret car revelation drew gasps in Committee Room One of Leinster House when it was uncovered on Wednesday afternoon.

It was one of the most startling of the day’s revelations at another blistering committee meeting that saw RTE chiefs grilled for over five and a half hours in the windowless room.

The blockbuster meeting saw major differences of opinion between RTE executives past and present, with ex Chief Financial Officer, Breda O’Keeffe, taking up an invite because she said she needed to “set the record straight” after last week’s meetings in Leinster House.

It was put to her by Fianna Fáil Cork TD, Christopher O’Sullivan, that she and former Director General, Dee Forbes, were “thrown under a bus” last week.

She replied with a stinging rebuke to the serving executives sitting just feet away from her by saying: “I would say that my recollections are more akin to what happened…. I’m a details person.”

Ms O’Keeffe also told the committee that she never agreed to underwrite the secret Renault deal that saw Ryan Tubridy receive his €75,000 secret payments from RTE when the car dealer pulled out of paying after a year.

RTE board members and executives (left to right) Chief Financial Officer Richard Collins, staff representative to the board Robert Shortt, RTE Interim Deputy Director General Adrian Lynch, RTE Chairperson of the board Siun Ni Raghallaigh, Strategy Director Rory Coveney , board member Anne O'Leary and RTE Commercial Director Geraldine O'Leary leave the Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media at Leinster House, Dublin, on the controversy around Ryan Tubridy's misreported salary payments (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

Earlier on in the day, before the committee sat, it was confirmed via a solicitor’s letter to the committee that Ryan Tubridy is now willing to come before the committee next week.

At the end of the committee meeting last night, members confirmed to the Irish Mirror that he will most likely appear next Wednesday.

The formal decision will be made at a private meeting of the committee tomorrow (FRI).

And it is also expected that Mr Tubridy, along with his agent, Noel Kelly, the two men in the eye of the scandal storm, will also appear before the PAC (Public Accounts Committee).

Documents released to the media committee before it started its session revealed the intricate details of what was spent on corporate hospitality from three ‘slush fund’ barter accounts, with values totalling €1.6million.

It included membership for the broadcaster’s head of commercial Geraldine O’Leary of the exclusive Soho House club in London where she could do advertising deals.

And just as the meeting was about to begin, one more piece of big news in the saga came with the confirmation that the new Director General, Kevin Bakhurst, has agreed to meet Media Minister, Catherine Martin, today (FRI).

But it was the revelations about the secret star car that were the most mysterious of the day, leading to wild rumours and speculation last night as to who the unknown star, or now stars, might be.

The matter was probed by Clare Senator Timmy Dooley.

Adrian Lynch declined to give the role of the RTE staff member who had been supplied a free car for the last five years.

He said: “I can’t really disclose that because there will be so much speculation around it, but I do want to disclose the fact that in terms of information supplied to me and what happened yesterday, this car was given back but over time as we go through the process…. and in terms of the register of interests and on the advice, we will be more transparent about that.”

He then added: “I’m sure it will come out anyway.”

Asked again if he would give the role of the person, he said: “I can’t do that because it will be too specific and lead to speculation.”

The issue came back up again near the very end of the meeting when Senator Murphy raised the prospect that there may be more secret cars among staff.

He asked Mr Lynch: “There was one secret car deal, yes?”

Mr Lynch replied: “I’ll be totally honest, the information is still coming in, it’s a staff of 1,800 people.”

Senator Murphy quizzed him further: “So it’s not just one secret car deal, there may be more?” to which acting editor in chief, Mr Lynch, said: “Possibly.”

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