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Former RTÉ Director-General Dee Forbes LEAH FARRELL
RTÉ payments controversy

Dee Forbes 'not fit or able' to attend Media Committee or give written statement, says lawyer

Members of the Committee have expressed their disappointment at the news.


DEE FORBES IS “not fit or able” to contribute to hearings at the Oireachtas Media Committee, according to a letter from the former RTÉ Director-General’s solicitor. 

In a letter to the committee today, solicitors for Forbes said they can provide medical information to confirm that she is unfit to attend.

The letter said Forbes is getting “active medical care” and that “further medical information” to confirm that she is “unfit to participate in any processes at this time can be provided with the requirement that it is kept confidential”.

On February 23, the committee sent a letter to Ms Forbes, requesting that she speaks to members either in person, via video link or through a written statement:.

The committee told Forbes that it is open to facilitating reasonable supports to assist her in her engagements with politicians.

“We confirm that on foot of your letter we have sought instructions from our client and we are instructed that our client is not fit or able to undertake or be involved in any processes,” her lawyers said.

We are instructed that our client is unfit to be involved in any process even with the offer of video links/breaks/written evidence etc and that our client remains under active medical care.

“We previously provided you with information confirming our client’s medical position.

“Further medical information, to confirm our client’s medical position that she is unfit to participate in any processes at this time can be provided with the requirement that it is kept confidential. If you require sight of further medical information on a strictly confidential basis please let us know.”

Members of the Committee have expressed their disappointment at the news.

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne, who sits on the Committee, told RTÉ Radio today that it was “unfortunate that she’s not in a position to contribute” to hearings concerned with corporate governance at the national broadcaster, but he said the Committee members wished her well in her recovery. 

“We had hoped if she wasn’t able to physically attend a committee that she might be able to make a written submission, because obviously in our reports on the events that have happened in RTÉ over the last number of months, it was important to get all the pieces of the jigsaw, to hear from everybody who may be able to enlighten us and Dee Forbes was critical to that.”

Those pieces of the jigsaw are still missing, he said. 

“Dee Forbes was a central figure in all of those decisions going right back to the payments that were made to Ryan Tubridy, some of the decisions around Toy Show the Musical, questions that we obviously want to ask around corporate governance and culture within the organisation.”

“So those three pieces of the jigsaw that could have been contributed by Dee Forbes, she’s not in a position to do that. So we obviously have to take that into account in completing our report, but when somebody is ill you have to respect that,” he said, adding that “there are others” who have not contributed to the Committee’s work on RTÉ. 

Byrne said a contribution from Forbes would also have fed into work the Committee has been doing on the future of Irish media and how its funded, “not just public service broadcasting but indeed to print media and the relationship between what you might call traditional media and the tech sector”.

Two Government-commissioned reports on RTÉ’s corporate governance and culture among other issues are due at the end of this month.

- With reporting by Press Association