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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Justin Kelly

RTE board told of Ryan Tubridy payments issue in same week he announced Late Late exit

The board of RTE was told of as payments issue involving top earner Ryan Tubridy in the same week the Dubliner announced his departure from the Late Late Show, it has emerged.

The payments controversy enveloping the national broadcaster allegedly came to light in March of this year as accountants poured over the financial goings on at RTE and in the same week Tubridy announced he was stepping away from the Late Late, according to the Irish Independent.

It emerged this week that hidden payments of €345,000 were paid to Tubridy over a period of five years. In a statement on Thursday, the RTE board said that between 2017 and 2022, Mr Tubridy received a series of payments totalling €345,000 above his annual published salary, which were not declared to the public and the Oireachtas.

Read More: Taoiseach admits he is 'very concerned' about RTE's Ryan Tubridy pay scandal

The statement said that a review found that under a separate agreement Mr Tubridy was guaranteed by RTÉ an additional annual income of €75,000 which was intended to come from a commercial partner.

The storm surrounding this issue has erupted in recent days with Ryan Tubridy himself apologising for not asking questions about his declared salary.

He said: "Further to my statement yesterday, I wish to respond to issues in the last 24 hours arising from RTÉ’s accounting treatment and publication of payments made to me between 2017 and 2022.

"RTÉ’s accounting treatment and publication of payments made to me between 2017 and 2022 contained serious errors.

"While I have no responsibility for the corporate governance in RTÉ or how or what they publish in their accounts, when my earnings were published I should have asked questions at the time and sought answers as to the circumstances which resulted in incorrect figures being published. I didn’t, and I bear responsibility for my failure to do so. For this, I apologise unreservedly.

"For the avoidance of doubt, all my earnings from RTÉ have at all times been included in my company’s accounts that were prepared by my accountant and filed with the Companies Registration Office and all my taxes are up to date. My filed accounts with details of these earnings have previously been reported on in the media.

"At the centre of all of this is trust. The trust of colleagues in RTÉ and the trust of a great many people who listen to my show. To them: I wholeheartedly apologise for my error of judgement.

"I also wish to respond to suggestions that this issue had some bearing on my decision to step down from hosting The Late Late Show. It did not."

Outgoing RTE Director General Dee Forbes too has broken her silence on the issue after being suspended by the organisation.

The RTE Television Studios in Donnybrook, Dublin (Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

She said through a spokesperson: "In response to the statements issued yesterday [Thursday] and today [Friday] by the RTÉ Board I would like to make the following points.

"I have been fully engaged with the Board since this matter arose in the course of the audit of the accounts.

"When asked in April 2023, I participated in the review conducted by Grant Thornton to determine the full circumstances and facts surrounding two specific payments to fulfil a contractual obligation for the years 2021 and 2022.

"Yesterday [Thursday] was an extremely difficult day for all of us who care so deeply about the organisation and the impact of these issues is a matter of profound regret."

Forbes added: "I am proud of my contribution to RTÉ over the past seven years. Throughout my tenure as director general, I have always prioritised what I believe are the best interests of the organisation, in order to best serve the public.

"This includes pursuing a difficult cost-cutting agenda as part of implementing a wider strategic agenda, all while navigating the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. I will be making no further public comment at this time."

A number of Oireachtas committees are seeking RTE's attendance to explain the situation, including the Public Accounts Committee.

Its chairperson, Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, has called for the former Director General of RTE Dee Forbes to come before the committee to explain the payments to Ryan Tubridy.

“What I want to know is that who set up this dodgy accountancy practices? Who set it off? Who signed off on it? And who knew about it and why?” Deputy Stanley said.

He too spoke with RTE employees who are furious over the apparent arrangements and who too are seeking answers from their employer.

Ranke and file journalists working at RTE have said they will hold the station to the "same standards" as other organisations in Ireland.

Emma O’Kelly, who is the chair of the National Union of Journalists Dublin Broadcasting Branch, has said members want an independent inquiry into the Ryan Tubridy secret pay deal revealed on Thursday.

Speaking yesterday on Liveline after an emergency NUJ meeting, she said: “People at that meeting spoke of how devastated they were, how ashamed they are, and how betrayed they feel about what has happened.

“The main message I think people wanted to get out is this is a crisis and a massive setback for us in RTE but it is not of our making. This is down to corporate governance.”

Ms. O’Kelly added: “We want an independent inquiry. We want it to be wider than what we’ve heard so far because we want to get to the core of the issues that have gone on here.

“People spoke about how this highlights a culture of secrecy within RTE and called for transparency so that is the central thing we’re looking for.”

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