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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
By Grinne N. Aodha

RTE commercial director won’t appear before committee as she retires

PA Wire

The retirement of RTE’s commercial director means she will not appear before the Public Accounts committee along with other executives.

Geraldine O’Leary said on Monday that she would take early retirement effective immediately, hours after new director general Kevin Bakhurst announced that the executive board would be stood down.

He announced a new interim board that would continue running the organisation.

Over more than 40 years in the advertising industry, I have acted with integrity and my positive reputation has been hard-earned
— Geraldine O'Leary

Ms O’Leary had been due to retire in August.

“My career at RTE is a great source of pride and honour to me,” Ms O’Leary said in a statement.

“Bringing my retirement forward by a number of weeks is not something I had anticipated.

“However, I recognise that a fresh leadership team, starting today, is vital as Kevin Bakhurst sets out to renew RTE, and I have agreed to facilitate that.”

She added: “Over more than 40 years in the advertising industry, I have acted with integrity and my positive reputation has been hard-earned. I truly hope that this will be my legacy.”

Mr Bakhurst said he had a good conversation with Ms O’Leary and said she seemed sad as she retired early.

“I had a good conversation with Geraldine. She is a thoroughly decent person, I’ve known her for many years, and it was sad.

“I think she was sad, she has had a very long and important career for RTE.

“She has stood up and been accountable in the committees.”

When Mr Bakhurst was asked about Ms O’Leary’s assertion that some of the questions asked in committee appearances had crossed the line, he said he agreed.

“I felt sometimes both Geraldine and others were not given a fair chance to respond to be honest with you, watching it.

“I think he’s perfectly right to ask all the questions they want to ask, but, you know, I do think you need to be given a chance to respond at least to some of the assertions or questions.”

He said that because Ms O’Leary had retired, she was under no obligation to appear before an Oireachtas committee, adding that he didn’t believe she had a moral obligation to appear before one.

“Geraldine has been in twice and I think she’s given us a very open account of what happened.”

It comes after RTE’s director of strategy Rory Coveney resigned on Sunday, with Mr Bakhurst telling reporters that the two had agreed on that approach.

“We had a few discussions about it, and he behaved in an entirely honourable and proper way. I think he felt his position was not sustainable going forward and we discussed it and I agreed with him.”

When asked about the role of chief financial officer Richard Collins, he said that Mr Collins is working on supplying documents requested from RTE, and will appear before the Public Accounts committee on Thursday.

He said that he had “stood back from his day-to-day role” at RTE, and that Mike Fives, group financial controller, had taken over those duties.

“He [Mr Collins] is working with us now for another couple of weeks. But I don’t want to get into individual arrangements, because we’re working that through – he’s available to work with us on submissions to committees and to help with any other RTE work we need to do.”

When asked whether he would finish up in the next few weeks, he added: “We’re not sure about that.”

In relation to the director of content, Jim Jennings, Mr Bakhurst said he had spoken to him on Sunday and that he will be “off sick for a while”.

“I agreed with him that we’d have discussions when he’s better. I’m trying to be fair and decent to individuals here as well.

“Jim has made it clear to me that going forward, he doesn’t want to be part of the new leadership team on the executive. But we’re going to have further discussions with him.”

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