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Catherine Martin on RTÉ's Prime Time this evening.
exit payments

Minister fails to express confidence in chair of RTÉ board and summons her to morning meeting

‘How could I be misinformed?’ – Catherine Martin summons chair of RTÉ board to meeting.

MEDIA MINISTER CATHERINE Martin has said that she was repeatedly “misinformed” by the chair of the RTÉ board, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, on whether the board signed off on the exit packages for two former executives. 

The Minister said she has asked to meet Ní Raghallaigh early tomorrow morning to express her disappointment, and to give the chair the chance to explain further.

Martin said that Ní Raghallaigh assured her on Monday and Wednesday that the board had no involvement in approving exit payments made to executives, but that she was this morning informed that the RTÉ board did play a role in signing off on that of former chief financial officer Richard Collins. 

Martin said that having been informed twice to the contrary, she was told today via her officials that Collins’ exit package went before the RTÉ remuneration board, which is chaired by Ní Raghallaigh. 

In a marked change of tone from the Minister, Martin said that she is “deeply disappointed” in the situation, and that she had summoned the chair to a meet tomorrow morning in relation to the matter. 

Martin said that her direct line of communication to RTÉ has “always been” the chair, and asked “How could I be misinformed?”

Martin stopped short of saying that she has lost confidence in Ní Raghallaigh, and added that as the chair has done “Herculean work” throughout the RTÉ controversy, it is important that she is “afforded the opportunity” to explain the matter tomorrow. 

The Minister said that on foot of the reassurances she received from Ní Raghallaigh, she told the media on Monday that the RTÉ board had no involvement in signing off on any of the exit agreements that were paid out to former executives, and that this had now emerged to be untrue.

She said it is critical that at such a time of “crisis and controversy” within RTÉ, she as Minister for Media is in possession of the “the facts”. 

Ní Raghallaigh took over as chair of the RTÉ board in November 2022.

Throughout her time in the post, she has dealt with the fallout of the Ryan Tubridy payment scandal, and further controversy about exit payments in more recent weeks. 

Minister Martin once again stated that she still has confidence in the Director General of RTÉ Kevin Bakhurst during her appearance of RTÉ’s Prime Time tonight. 

Earlier today, Bakhurst said that he had received “robust” legal advice which has led him to understand that if he discloses any further information about the exit payments made to former RTÉ executives, he would be “deliberately breaking the law”. 

Bakhurst said that he understands the kind of confidentiality agreements he made related to these payments with the former executives to be commonplace in major organisations. 

He added that RTÉ has written to the ex-senior figures concerned, inviting them to waive their right to privacy in relation to the exit payments. 

The exit packages of Collins and another former executive, Rory Coveney, have been in the spotlight this week amid a renewed focus on exit packages from the top level of the organisation in the wake of last week’s revelations about the amount paid to former financial controller Breda O’Keeffe.

Siún Ní Raghallaigh has not made any public response to Martin’s comments at this time. 

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