We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Mark Stedman
Ryan Tubridy

Dáil's spending watchdog chair says PAC must get immediate explanation from RTÉ

An external audit into a potential financial issue at RTÉ has found the company publicly understated Ryan Tubridy’s earnings since 2017.

THE DÁIL’S SPENDING watchdog chairperson says he has written to the committee members requesting an immediate explanation from RTÉ on publicly understating Ryan Tubridy’s earnings since 2017.

In a statement released by the broadcaster today, the company said that an external audit, conducted by Grant Thornton, found that Ryan Tubridy’s salary was understated publicly since 2017.

In total, the company understated Tubridy’s actual earnings by €326,250 over the last six years.

The board of RTÉ have now requested Grant Thornton to review the contracts of the broadcaster’s top 10 on-air earners to independently validate that all remuneration figures have been correctly stated and accounted for by RTÉ.

In a statement this evening, Tubridy said he is “surprised” and “disappointed” by the RTÉ statement today.

“The PAC is demanding the full details surrounding the circumstances that led to this understatement by RTÉ in its accounts.

“What has happened is utterly unacceptable and yet another serious breach of trust between our national broadcaster and the public.

“Just last year, RTÉ was forced to make a settlement of €1.2m to Revenue for unpaid employee PRSI and the broadcaster is now under investigation by the Department of Social Protection for the misclassification and bogus-self employment of over 100 employees.

“Today’s revelations are just yet another example of the poor levels of transparency and questionable culture that has dominated RTÉ for too long, and this needs to change.

Speaking to The Journal, Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley said RTÉ need to explain “why this happened, who is responsible and explain what is being done to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again”.

Stanley said he has always been supportive of public service broadcasting, which he said provides unbiased coverage of news and current affairs and has carried out a number of significant probes into malpractice.

‘Grievous matter’

However, he said it is would be a “grievous matter” if issues such as this are happening at the “heart of RTÉ, the body we rely on to probe and scrutinise”.

Senior RTÉ management must appear before the PAC before the summer recess to explain, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has said.

In a statement, she said the nature of the payments to Tubridy, and the use by RTÉ of a barter account, raise serious questions that demand urgent answers.

“Today’s bombshell revelations involve a breach of trust from an organisation that has repeatedly put on the poor mouth about its dire financial situation when seeking an increase in the television licence fee,” she said.

She said it should be noted that these payments “to one of its stars were made at a time when ordinary workers at RTÉ were being subjected to pay cuts, pay freezes and redundancies”.

“This controversy raises crucial issues about corporate governance and controls within an organisation which is tasked with holding others to account with its public service journalism remit.

“I have today written to the Public Accounts Committee requesting a detailed note on the situation from RTÉ. In addition, senior management from RTÉ and officials from Minister Catherine Martin’s department should appear before the Committee in advance of the summer Dáil recess.”

Labour’s media spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock told The Journal that the reports are “deeply concerning”.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Senator and member of the Oireachtas Media Committee, Malcolm Byrne, has said there is a need now for complete transparency by RTÉ, the Late Late Show and Tubridy regarding payments made to the presenter.

“The public must be told what agreements were entered into, who knew about them and who approved them. There must be complete cooperation with the Grant Thornton investigation and that report should be published as expeditiously as possible.

“On publication, RTE and Grant Thornton will be invited to appear before the Oireachtas Media Committee, and they should be clear about what has happened and any actions that will be taken. There is also a need to provide regular reports to Minister Catherine Martin.”

The Fianna Fáil Senator concluded by saying: “This will not help RTÉ’s case for additional public funding. It does represent a test for the new Chair and Chief Executive of RTÉ to set out their values and vision in response to this scandal.”

On RTÉ’s Drivetime, Byrne said he did not accept Tubridy or his agent’s statements, adding: 

“I don’t accept it. I don’t accept that because the figures are very much in the public domain.

“As you know, the national media make a big story every year about how much the top 10 presenters get paid. And this isn’t a matter of a couple of Euro being out in terms of the publication letters. This is a difference of €345,000.”

He said there’s no suggestion of anything unlawful but said he believed it “is very clearly a breach of trust”.

“And I totally understand that Ryan Tubridy’s agents acted on his behalf and negotiated the best terms possible,” he added. However, he said that when they were published, a correction should have been forthcoming when it was noticed that it was understated.

There has also been reaction from trade unions, with Chair of the RTE Trade Union Group, Stuart Masterson, stating:

“This is a significant breach of trust. RTÉ have done immense damage to the relationship with staff. This happened at a time when staff were engaged in cost-cutting negotiations with management.”

Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, Seamus Dooley, told RTÉ’s Drivetime that there is still the question of who signed off on the payments to Tubridy and what was the role of the executive board?

He said the NUJ have been negotiating with RTÉ about pay conditions, and the books of the public broadcaster were open for those talks.

“The negotiations were conducted in good faith on the basis of that information. But the reality now is that that information was false because what was not revealed in that payments made to Ryan Tubridy through a third party…

“I have never heard of a barter account, but I don’t like the smell of it,” he said.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel