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RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst talking to the media on Monday. Sasko Lazarov/

Live: RTÉ Board and Executive back before the Public Accounts Committee

Director General Kevin Bakhurst faced questions from TDs and Senators on the controversy for the first time.

THE RTÉ PAYMENTS scandal continued with members of the Board and the newly established ‘interim leadership team’ before the Public Accounts Committee this morning.

New Director General Kevin Bakhurst, facing questions from TDs and Senators for the first time since taking over from Dee Forbes, said the controversy surrounding undisclosed payments made to Ryan Tubridy has created one of the “most shameful and damaging episodes” in the organisation’s history”.

He also said there remain “gaps in evidence” that could “irrefutably evidence all aspects of the chain of events, what informed or influenced those events, and why this occurred”.

RTÉ also challenged Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly’s evidence from Tuesday, including Kelly’s claim to have never met Dee Forbes without a legal team present.

You can read back on the latest events from the Committee below:

'Shameful and damaging'

In his opening statement, Kevin Bakhurst will tell the committee that the controversy surrounding undisclosed payments made to Ryan Tubridy has “created one of the most shameful and damaging episodes in the organisation’s history”.

He will also tell politicians that RTÉ “should not be brokering or facilitating commercial arrangements with its contractors”. 

Leadership team

Bakhurst is also expected to outline that there will be a new permanent leadership team put in place “in due course” following the dismantling of the executive board earlier this week. 

Grant Thornton review

Meanwhile, the findings of the Grant Thornton review have revealed that apart from Ryan Tubridy, the published pay of RTÉ’s top 10 earners has been correct from 2010 to 2022.

Work to determine whether salaries between 2008 and 2009 were correct is ongoing.

This review is separate to the ongoing Grant Thornton review being conducted into the understatement by RTÉ of Tubridy’s published pay by €120,000 between 2017 and 2019.

The committee has begun and it’s being explained that it will delve into “commerical arrangements entered into by RTÉ and its presenters, including those underwritten by RTÉ, which have impacted on and relate to the expenditure of public monies”.

RTÉ chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh opens by praising Bakhurst for “steadying the ship” by taking “swift action on a range of important matters”. 

Calls the scandal a “distressing saga” and goes on to say that the Grant Thorton report revealed a “pressing need and a duty to correct the record regarding payments that have come into the public domain”. 

Grant Thornton Review

RTÉ chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh explains the works currently done and yet to come by Grant Thornton: “The facts uncovered by the first Grant Thornton Report, led, in turn, to the commissioning of the second Grant Thornton process.

“Yesterday evening, the Audit and Risk Committee and the wider Board, considered the first instalment of the second Grant Thornton Report – namely to independently validate that the remuneration figures for RTÉ’s ten highest paid on-air presenters had been correctly stated publicly and properly accounted for by RTÉ during the period 2008 to 2022 inclusive.

“Grant Thornton’s review confirms that RTÉ had correctly stated and properly accounted for these figures for the period 2010 to 2022, with the obvious exception of what have already restated.

“Work is ongoing for 2008 – 2009 given the historical nature of those records and the second instalment namely a review of the misstatement of the 2017 – 2019 figures for Mr. Tubridy.”

'Gaps in evidence'

Kevin Bakhurst uses his opening statement to address “gaps in evidence”. 

“It remains a source of frustration to the public, to the RTÉ Board, to the elected representatives who have engaged on this issue, and to staff within RTÉ, that there are gaps in evidence and missing personal testimonies, that could irrefutably evidence all aspects of the chain of events, what informed or influenced those events, and why this occurred.”

'Beyond dispute'

Bakhurst says RTÉ “should not be brokering commercial arrangement with its contractors”. 

“A number of things are beyond dispute,” says Bakhurst. 

“RTÉ should not be brokering or facilitating commercial arrangements with its contractors.

“The level of fees in contracts of this nature are too high. We should have operated with greater transparency, and should have applied much higher standards of honesty and integrity in terms of its public statements.

“The public were misled, as were you as public representatives. That is completely unacceptable. I want to assure you that lessons have been learned, and actions are being taken.”

Bakhurst now outlining plans to instal permanent leadership team “in due course”, plans to expediate the establishment of a Register of Interests, as well as plans to publish annually top 10 presenter pay.

'Draw a line under this shameful period'

Bakhurst said more decisions and commitments will be announced over the months ahead and adds: “But I hope that these measures convey that I am determined to take action, and swiftly.

“I am absolutely determined to implement the change and reform which will help us draw a line under this shameful period in RTÉ’s history and to rebuilding trust in public service broadcasting.”

Interim deputy director general Adrian Lynch says statements made on Tuesday when Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly were before the committee need “clarification”. 

Lynch disputes that there was a “contractual commitment given to underwrite the commercial agreement” in an email from former RTÉ chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe.

“Moreover, we contend that the payments of €75,000 per year for year two and three of the commercial contract were pursued by NK management despite it knowing that the Renault contract was no longer in place,” said Lynch.

Lynch says going forward, “RTÉ will never again act as an intermediary or broker between a presenter and a third party”.

“All contractual arrangements will be captured in writing in a single contract without side letters.”

Barter accounts

Lynch describes barter accounts as a “useful commerical trading tool” that will be continued to be used.

However, he adds that “surpluses from the account will simply be cashed out and returned to group revenue and reinvested for client representation as required” going forward. 

“This will be from a separate budget line to be agreed with central finance oversight.”

Lynch notes that Noel Kelly claimed to have never met Dee Forbes without a legal team present.

He says a meeting on 25 April, 2022, via Microsoft Teams took place between Kelly and Forbes.

“On that date, we knew the Renault agreement is for a year and a quarter. Geraldine O’Leary in her testimony has been very clear about the fact the was no Renault deal after the first year, there were no other six events.”

Lynch later says: “Who did Kelly think he was sending the invoices to given that fact that Geraldine O’Leary has clearly said the Renault deal was for one year and ‘I was too embarrassed to go back to the client because we have not delivered the events’. There were no other events.”


Previously in his opening statement, Lynch said RTÉ takes “full responsibility” for “misstatement of the fees paid to Ryan Tubridy”. 

“At the outset, I would like to state that RTÉ takes full responsibility for these misstatements, and the events that lead to them.

“In relation to 2017, 18, and 19, how or why these inaccuracies occurred is the subject of Grant Thornton’s current review.

“We await the findings, and are committed to taking appropriate action in response and to update this Committee.

“Again, RTÉ takes full responsibility for these misstatements.”

Kevin Bakhurst says he urged “everyone where possible to attend” and said he “hasn’t dealt with a request” for Geraldine O’Leary to attend. 

O’Leary has taken an early retirement from her role in RTE.

RTÉ’s director of legal affairs Paula Mulloly disputes tripartite agreement was drafted by RTÉ, as Noel Kelly claimed on Tuesday.

“It was drafted by Noel Kelly and provided to us,” she says. 

Bakhurst said the invoices and “side letters and side agreements” involved in the Renault deal will not happen again and that everything will be included in a single contract. 

Colm Burke then questions why Dee Forbes was asked to resign when she only had six weeks left to go on her contract. 

Burke said he asked for a list of everyone involved in the deal and wasn’t issued with one. 

Colm Burke asks what salary Tubridy is currently on with RTÉ.

Bakhurst says there is a a lot of interest in a possible Tubridy return and says he needs to have a discussion with staff and Tubridy: “It will be a fair process.”

Bakhurst says he is currently in discussion with Tubridy’s agent over his contract and that as of this week, he is not being paid. 

“As I understand it, the latest invoice came in this week and my advice is we need to decide exactly what we’re paying him because he’s not doing his past duties anymore.”

More from Adrian Lynch’s opening statement where he “clarifies” statements made by Noel Kelly on Tuesday: “Firstly, regarding the email that was sent by the former CFO of RTÉ to NK Management on 20 February 2020: RTÉ does not accept that a contractual commitment was given to underwrite the commercial agreement in this email.

“Secondly, regarding the proposal to underwrite Mr Tubridy’s payments: RTÉ again states that the request was known within RTÉ, however, the commitment to do so was not widely known.

“RTÉ’s position is that, until the verbal commitment given by the former Director General during the call on 7 May 2020, it had not agreed to underwrite the €75,000 payment per contract year.

“Thirdly, in relation to some of the commentary made here on Tuesday last, RTÉ must clarify that the proposal to underwrite these payments was central to the contractual negotiations between RTÉ and Mr Tubridy.

“We believe that the substantive contract would not have been signed without the additional commercial agreement, or the underwriting.

“Moreover, we contend that the payments of €75,000 for year 2 and 3 of the commercial
contract were pursued by NK Management, despite it knowing that the Renault contract was no longer in place.”

Adrian Lynch now saying former DG Dee Forbes “was the one member of the Executive Board who gave the verbal undertaking to underwirte the agreement”.

“It was a commerical decision that came with risks and I don’t think it was done with malintent.”

Lynch adds: “You have got to remember also, this was given in the context of a country locked down in a pandemic, which was a pretty unique set of circumstances.”

Cormac Devlin asks if all internal emails from staff both past and present will be available.

Bakhurst said while he has to take legal advice, he wants the maximum material to be made available wherever possible within the legal constraints. 

'Drip feed'

TD John Brady says the “drip feed” of information is still continuing. 

He asks why new emailed presented by Noel Kelly on Tuesday weren’t previously provided.

Paula Mulloly, director of legal, says a meeting was held and she is taking advice on “legal professional privilege”. 

She confirms these emails were shared with Grant Thornton when they began their initial review.

'Operating in silos'

John Brady hits out at attempts by RTÉ to claim that “nobody had all of the information”. 

“I do think people were operating in silos,” said Bakhurst. 

“I’m not convinced anyone else knew all the information.”

But he adds: “I do think there were clearly a number of people who should have spoken up against what was going on.”

Renault 'dragged into this'

Adrian Lynch apologies to Renault for being “dragged into this” and said “it is outrageous in a way”. 

Lynch is then asked if Tubridy has been asked by RTÉ to return the money, after Tubridy said he would be willing to do so if asked.

“The reason we haven’t is because there was a verbal agreement fiven to the agent that RTÉ would pay the money if there was no sponsorship in place.”

Bakhurst said he “welcomed the offer and we will wait and see what he does about it”. 

Register of Interests

Cormac Devlin now questioning the register of interests and asks “what level of staff will be included and what will they have to declare”.

Bakhurst said he will look at best practice, discuss it with unions about what is fair and appropriate, and said he plans for it to extend to all staff. 

Devlin now asks about the impact the scandal has had on revenues and licence fee payments.

Bakhurst said he has had conversations with agencies and commercial partners and “they think we’re dealing with this and they see the commercial side as business as usual and it remains a valued customer and brand for them”.

On the licence fee, he said the latest full figures he has is for June.

“The June figures would show that licence revenue has remained pretty much in line with last year.

“I would expect it to be a little bumpy because I understand the anger out there.

“And that’s my job to address that and to demonstrate to audiences they should be paying the license fee, and that they can have trust in future.”

Another Renault apology

Another apology has been issued by RTÉ to Renault “because they have been dragged into this and they are a significant advertiser of ours”. 

Bakhurst denied that Noel Kelly “lied” to the committee but says “there are two sides to this agreement”.

“But there are three sides,” says Verona Murphy, “and let me tell you why your side doesn’t appear to be credible.”

She adds she hasn’t seen any evidence to support RTÉ’s claims and asks if Renault is currently the sponsor of The Late Late Show.

She says this is a simple “yes or no” answer but Bakhurst says the answer “takes more than one word”. 

“They have been the sponsors of The Late Late, and my understanding is that it’s up for renewal,” says Bakhurst on Renault sponsoring The Late Late. 

Now he says that while RTÉ “should accept the vast majority of the blame, there are two sides to this agreement”. 

'This is very simple'

Lynch says “this is very simple”.

“Noel Kelly has a contract with RTÉ which is underwritten by a verbal agreement, which is completely legal,” said Lynch. 

Verona Murphy now asks for evidence that RTÉ informed Noel Kelly that Renault was no longer paying for the deal. 

“Who conceived this scheme?” asks Murphy.

Lynch says he is “unsure about the genesis” but the first document on file is from 2019. 

“We know the agent came back and insisted continually that the sponsorship agreement will be uderwritten for the duration of the contract,” he adds. 

Dee Forbes evidence would be 'very useful'

TD Alan Dillion now asks who would be useful to shed further light on what has happened. 

“Certainly it’d be very useful if the former director general (Dee Forbes) when she’s well enough can come and give evidence to try and shed some light on particularly some of the verbal conversations we have no record,” said Bakhurst.

He adds it would be useful if Jim Jennings was to come before the committee and said “he will be open to doing that and I’ll discuss that with him”. 

Noel Kelly an 'extremely good negotiator'

Dillon asks if anyone at RTÉ should be paid more than the director general, at €250,000.

Bakhurst says it will be considered if “they have a worth to our team” and adds that RTÉ needs to keep downward pressure on presenter pay. 

Lynch now says Tubridy is an “utterly decent person” and that Noely Kelly is “an extremely good negotiator”.

“He’s meticulous about detail. He represents his clients extremely well. He’s very loyal to his client,” said Lynch. 

'Wheels came off the bus'

Lynch now says: “This legal contract was underwritten by RTÉ and as a result the wheels kind of came off the bus, and then he was paid through this barter account”. 

Bakhurst now saying he doesn’t want to rush into a decision about Tubridy’s future at RTÉ. 

Lynch now asked if it was credible for Tubridy to compare the Renault deal to a book publishing agreement. 

Lynch says “they would seem to be different things”. 


Dillion now asks if “collusion was in operation” between Kelly and RTÉ to conceal where the payments were going. 

“I accept what you’re saying about collusion,” says RTÉ’s director of legal, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it relates to a criminal offense.

“There was definitely a misleading or a lack of transparency.”

Adrian Lynch now says it is “correct” to say that none of this may have come to light had all the Renault events taken place as planned. 

Alan Kelly picking up a criticism that has been levelled by others, claims that “vital” documents have not been shared with committee members but have been circulated to the media. 

Alan Kelly now asking if other presenters of flagship Friday and Saturday night shows had deals similar to Tubridy’s Renault deal, stretching back to Gay Byrne. 

Now claims there “seems to be a tradition here” of people being appointed to senior roles without it being advertised. 

Alan Kelly now referencing a tweet by RTÉ’s Dave Fanning, who is also represented by Noel Kelly.

In a now-deleted tweet, Fanning wrote: “I think we all need a distraction from that nonsensical Oireachtas Nuremberg trial… So listen to our Rory Gallagher special tonight 10pm on Radio 1!”

“How is that appropriate?” asks Kelly. 

Bakhurst says it isn’t appropriate and adds that the work of the committee is “incredibly important”. 

'I haven't got my calculator'

Alan Kelly now questions how some of the people involved in this will be able to work together again: “I just can’t see it in real life.”

Kelly also asks if it is accurate to say Tubridy took a 20% paycut, and Bakhurst replied that “I wouldn’t want to say yes or no, because I haven’t got my calculator”. 

Our FactCheck on Tubridy’s reported pay cut can be view here.

'Going around in circles'

Catherine Murphy says “we’re going around in circles here”. 

“We’ve been given the absolute runaround on this,” she adds. 

Murphy said RTÉ members who have attended previous committees but are not present today have said things “that end up with clear evidence of not being true”. 

‘As weak as bedamned’

With the committee back, there’s a back-and-forth as Imelda Munster puts it to Adrian Lynch that he “had to know” about the underwriting of the Renault deal and that he “misled the committee”.

Lynch disputes this and adds that when payments were made to Ryan Tubridy, “we should have declared them and have put our hands up in terms of that”, adding “RTÉ published inaccurate information about its top earner.”

She says the response from RTÉ is “as weak as bedamned” and says it’s the view of the “majority of the Committee” that Lynch had misled members.

Fellow TD Paul McAuliffe interjects at this to say that no decision has been made by the committee on that matter and that proceedings should be allowed to play out in full so the PAC can provide a full report on what happened.

Committee chair Brian Stanley asks about allowing the State’s chief auditor in the Office Of The Comptroller and Auditor General take on oversight of RTÉ’s finances.

Kevin Bakhurst says he is in favour and that “any added assurance” would be beneficial.

Siun ní Raghallaigh adds that she had called for this in her opening statement to the committee at her first appearance.

The Comptroller & Auditor General, Seamus McCarthy, is in the room himself as part of the committee’s work, and he notes this would require a change in legislation.

He says he would not be satisfied if the board appointed him as auditor without the Oireachtas also giving approval.

Stanley notes that the revelations of the last fortnight shows the need for the change.

Stanely asks whether RTÉ will investigate all contracts and invoices associated with Noel Kelly’s clients at the broadcaster.

“Yes, I would like to satisfy myself as one about that so we’ll certainly do that,” Kevin Bakhurst responds.

Dave Fanning apologises

Dave Fanning has apologised for comments in a now-deleted tweet claiming the committee hearings were a “nonsensical Oireachtas Nuremberg trial”.

Alan Kelly had referenced it earlier, noting that the long-time music presenter is also represented by Noel Kelly.

“I want to apologise unreservedly to the Oireachtas Committee for my ill judged comment regarding this weeks hearings. There was no intention to trivialise the proceedings,” Fanning posted in a tweet.

No legal papers have been served by Ryan Tubridy arising from the controversy.

Kevin Bakhurst and Adrian Lynch confirmed this following a question from John Brady, given Tubridy had warned his reputation had been “sullied” by RTÉ’s handling of the whole issue.

The senior management’s comments came despite RTÉ’s legal director Paula Molhooly saying that the broadcaster doesn’t comment on such matters as per a longstanding policy.

It’s worth highlighting an exchange from a little earlier, where Kevin Bakhurst told the committee that he did not agree with Tubridy’s claims of ‘seven untruths’, as put forward on Tuesday.

Bakhurst also says that he would be open to returning to the Public Accounts Committee at the same time as Tubridy.

Bakhurst says RTÉ will look to recoup the €150,000 paid out to Ryan Tubridy and NK Management, but adds that in legal terms they’d have little entitlement to retrieving the payment.

“Should they decide to pay it back because it’s the right thing to do, we’d welcome that,” Bakhurst tells Alan Dillon.

“In the end it’s money from the license fee payer,” he adds.

Breda O’Keeffe texts the committee

Former CFO Breda O’Keeffe wasn’t able to attend the committee but she is watching, as Adrian Lynch has told TDs that he’s received a text from O’Keefe to “dispute that no one else on the executive knew” about the contract arrangement.

However, Paul McAuliffe and others say that the committee can’t accept “second-hand evidence”.

O’Keeffe, whose evidence had been challenged by Noel Kelly on Tuesday, had claimed she was too busy with her new job to attend today’s meeting.

“I’m at a loss to know how serious is Mr Lynch taking this that he thought it was acceptable to take a text from someone who refused to appear here,” Verona Murphy says.

Adrian Lynch says he believes Noel Kelly should have been aware that fees were being paid by RTÉ rather than Renault after their deal ended.

He notes that emails from Kelly showed that he was “looking for a solution for years two and three”, which was when the agreement had expired due to Renault not renewing the deal.

A register of interests, which has been promised by RTÉ in light of the payment scandal, has received support from Group Head of RTE Sport Declan McBennett.

He tells the committee that many managers in RTÉ would like to see it in place.

“You don’t want staff looking across the fence at ‘who’s getting what’ etc,” he says.

The committee’s final exchanges are spent revisiting the situation around Ryan Tubridy’s contract with RTÉ.

Head of legal Paula Mulhooly says the executives’ view is that the current contract is an at an end but that it’s “fair to say” Noel Kelly takes a different view and is maintaining that Tubridy’s radio work is ongoing.

Mulhooly outlines that the management disagree as Tubridy’s contract saw TV and radio services “rolled in” together.

Wrapping up today’s hearing, chair Brian Stanley thanks RTÉ executives for attending and pays particular tribute to Robert Short, a staff representative on RTÉ’s audit committee, for his reporting as economics correspondent.

And with that, the Public Accounts Committee hearing is over.

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