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RTÉ Executive Board leaving the Oireachtas Media Committee last week. am Boal/

RTÉ's executive board stood down, new interim team confirmed to include four ex-board members

New RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst this afternoon announced the new interim leadership team that will continue running the organisation.

LAST UPDATE | 10 Jul 2023

THE ENTIRE RTÉ Executive Board has been stood down and has been replaced with an “interim leadership team”.

The move was announced in an email to staff from RTÉ’s new director general Kevin Bakhurst this morning.

The make-up of the new team was confirmed this afternoon, with four members of RTÉ’s former executive board being part of the new interim leadership team. 

The five former members of the board who will not be on the new team are Dee Forbes, Richard Collins, Jim Jennings, Geraldine O’Leary and Rory Coveney. 

Forbes was the former director general who’s scheduled departure was hastened as a result of the payments scandal. Yesterday it was announced that Coveney had resigned as RTÉ’s director of strategy while today it was confirmed that O’Leary was retiring with immediate effect

RTÉ has been reeling since it emerged last month that it under-reported the salary paid to star presenter Ryan Tubridy and failed to disclose €345,000 of additional payments to him between 2017 and 2022.

The furore has since widened amid further disclosures about RTÉ’s internal financial, accounting and governance practices and its expenditure on corporate hospitality for advertising clients.

In the email to staff this morning, Bakhurst described the past few weeks a “very difficult time for the organisation collectively” and added that he’s “been appalled by recent events”. 

Bakhurst told staff that the interim leadership team will run the organisation until a new permanent team is installed “in due course”.

“From today, all significant decisions will be agreed by the whole of the Interim Leadership Team and a record of discussions leading to these decisions will be compiled,” said Bakhurst.

“There can be no repeat of the siloed and at times secretive decision-making that have been at the root of the shameful events of the past weeks,” he added.

“As custodians of public money, our financial integrity must be on a par with our editorial integrity.”

Interim team

Bakhurst this afternoon announced the new interim leadership team that will continue running the organisation. 

The temporary team, in addition to Bakhurst, includes:

  • Eimear Cusack as Director of Human Resources
  • Vivienne Flood, Head of Public Affairs
  • Mike Fives, Group Financial Controller
  • Adrian Lynch, Director of Audiences, Channels, Marketing, and continuing as Acting Deputy DG
  • Paula Mullooly, Director of Legal
  • Deirdre McCarthy, Director of News & Current Affairs
  • Niamh O’Connor, Deputy Director of Content
  • Conor Mullen, Head of Strategy & Commercial Compliance
  • Richard Waghorn, Director of Operations and Technology.

Bakhurst said a new permanent leadership team will be appointed “in due course”.

Adrian Lynch had been acting as Interim DG until Bakhurst took charge today.

Flood, Fives, O’Connor and Mullen were not members of the former RTÉ executive board.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, Bakhurst said he made it “crystal clear” to everyone on the interim team that they “will be accountable, will be transparent, and we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour again”. 

He added that the interim team has to “re-establish trust and belief” and said that while some change can’t happen overnight, “there is an urgency here and I am impatient to change the culture here”. 

The new RTÉ director general also announced that an external corporate governance expert is to be recruited and confirmed that RTÉ will publish the salaries of the leadership team, alongside the earnings of the 10 highest paid presenters, from the annual 2023 report onwards. 

‘Cultural change’

Bakhurst’s email also set out plans to expedite the establishment of a Register of Interests for staff and contractors.

RTÉ’s new director general has also called for “cultural change” within the organisation. 

“RTÉ needs to quickly and meaningfully evolve into an organisation that is focused on its people and the public we serve,” said Bakhurst in this morning’s email to staff. 

As part of this cultural change, Bakhurst said “from today” he will work to “co-ordinate a review of roles and grades, pay, and gender equality”.

RTÉ’s new director general added that these are the “major announcements for today” and that “more will follow in the days and weeks ahead”. 

The Chair of the RTÉ Board, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, has welcomed the changes announced this morning by Bakhurst and said she looks forward to “forging a new future for this organisation”. 

She added that RTÉ has a “long way to go in rebuilding our bond of trust with the people” but that she believes the organisation can do so. 

“We will reform RTÉ by putting in place new structures and procedures that will ensure those mistakes of the past can never occur again,” said Ní Raghallaigh.

Media Minister Catherine Martin has also welcomed Bakhurst’s statement and described it as “first steps towards helping restore public confidence in RTÉ”. 

“Now is the time for a reset right across RTÉ,” added Minister Martin. 

‘Time for action’

Bakhurst said yesterday that he was planning “to be in contact with staff first thing in the morning via email, and I’ll be going around meeting people, trying to take questions and explain what we’re trying to do”.

“The only thing I’ll say to people is it’s time for action now, that’s all we need.”

Minister of State Thomas Byrne had described Bakhurst’s arrival at RTÉ as a “really good moment”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics programme, Byrne suggested there has been too much focus on commercial activity at RTÉ and a return to the “basics of public service broadcasting” is needed.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Saturday that he was expecting Bakhurst to bring in changes as he took up the position.

“I understand that the new director-general Kevin Bakhurst is going to make some announcements on Monday in relation to changes to the organisation, the way the management is structured and also is going to deal with issues around conflicts of interest,” Varadkar said.

“I am very reassured in what he has said to Government and it’s important that he be allowed to set out those plans on Monday and to talk to staff first and then to inform the wider nation about those changes, and he’s going to make them quickly.”

-With additional reporting from Press Association

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