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political pressure

Ministers back Catherine Martin as she faces calls to step down over RTÉ crisis

Ministers have publicly stated their confidence in the Media Minister.

POLITICAL PRESSURE IS mounting on Media Minister Catherine Martin over her handling of the RTÉ controversy. 

The chair of the Board resigned after the minister failed to express confidence in her, plunging RTÉ into further chaos.

Speaking on Prime Time last night, Martin declined to express confidence in Siún Ní Raghallaigh. She said she was repeatedly “misinformed” by the RTÉ chair on whether the board signed off on exit packages for two former executives.

Shortly before 1am, Ní Raghallaigh’s resigned saying it was “abundantly clear” she did not have the confidence of the minister and her position was “no longer tenable”.

Martin has today come under fire for her handling of the situation, with Labour’s position being that her position is also untenable. 

Cabinet ministers voice support

Justice Minister Helen McEntee, Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris all publicly stated confidence in their government colleague.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin have also expressed confidence in the minister. 

Labour media spokesperson Marie Sherlock has said Martin’s position as Media Minister is now untenable. 

Senator Sherlock said:

“From the outset of the RTÉ crisis, Martin has been on the backfoot. 

“In the context of multiple bail outs of RTÉ by the public, we now know for sure that the Minister failed to ask the most basic questions.”

Sinn Féin has also weighed in, Sinn Féin TD for Cavan/Monaghan, Matt Carthy stating that he has written to the Ceann Comhairle seeking time to be set aside for the minister to answer questions on the matter in the Dáil next week.

In a statement, he said the minister’s handling of the debacle at RTÉ by the government has been a shambles from start to finish.

He has Martin has serious questions to answer on the matter.

“The handling of this entire debacle at RTÉ has been an utter shambles for seven months.

“The government have been on the back foot at every turn, particularly Minister Catherine Martin. Every time she’s put on the spot she says she’s not responsible; that it’s someone else’s problem,” he said. 

Carthy said the minister has been behind the curve at every twist and turn in this debacle, and the events of the past twenty-four hours won’t surprise anyone.

He added that it must be made clear what her Department was aware of in relation to at least one of the exit packages in October and why the minister was not informed. 

C&AG

Carthy said RTÉ should be brought back under the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General, something the Taoiseach said was under consideration this week.

The Sinn Féin TD said this would ensure the Public Accounts Committee can provide adequate oversight of RTÉ’s finances.

Aontú Leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has said the position of minister is untenable “if her department knew of golden handshakes in October”.

“The Minister in practical terms fired Siún Ní Raghallaigh as the Chair of the RTE Board last night, live on TV. She did so on the basis that she was not informed of the golden handshakes to exiting senior executives. However is has now emerged that her department knew of golden handshakes to senior RTE Executives as far back as last October,” he added. 

The Social Democrats have said the minister has serious questions to answer and they need to get answers and full information from the minister, the department and RTÉ but stopped short of saying Martin’s position is untenable. 

People Before Profit have said the minister has serious questions to answer and they are calling for a Dail Q&A session for next week.

There is increasing frustration at government level of the continuous drip-feed of information from RTÉ, with Tánaiste Micheál Martin telling the Dáil that it was becoming challenging and must be reflected on that increasingly the Oireachtas and the government “seems to almost have as its responsibility the micromanagement of organizations in sport and dare I say, broadcasting”.

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