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Kevin Bakhurst has commissioned an external review of RTÉ's voluntary exit schemes (2017, 2021).

Kevin Bakhurst commissions external review of RTÉ's voluntary exit schemes in 2017 and 2021

The voluntary redundancy package that former RTÉ CFO Breda O’Keeffe availed of was not signed off by other executive board members.

RTÉ’S DIRECTOR GENERAL Kevin Bakhurst has commissioned an external review of the broadcaster’s voluntary exit schemes in 2017 and 2021.

The issue was brought up today during the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) after it was revealed that the voluntary redundancy package, which former RTÉ chief financial officer (CFO) Breda O’Keeffe availed of, was not signed off by other members of the executive board.

In a statement issued by the broadcaster this evening, it said: “Details of the review, which will feed into the Government’s Review of Contractor Fees, Human Resources and other matters, will be announced as soon as possible.”

O’Keeffe, the broadcaster’s CFO who, according to Noel Kelly and Ryan Tubridy, proposed the “offset” to the exit payment for Ryan Tubridy’s 2015-2020 contract, left the organisation in March 2020.

Last week, O’Keeffe told PAC that she had availed of the scheme when she had left in 2020, even though the scheme is typically granted in circumstances where a role is suppressed or there has been a reorganisation within the company to reflect a role being made redundant.

Current CFO Richard Collins replaced O’Keeffe in 2020.

Collins said he was on the executive board when the payment to his predecessor was made but not when it was agreed.

Collins said: “I knew nothing about that package, Breda never explained anything about it, the director-general (Dee Forbes) never did.”

When asked during the PAC hearing today by Labour TD Alan Kelly how he could not have signed off on the package, interim deputy-director general Adrian Lynch said the matter “never came to us for sign off”.

The new Director General Kevin Bakhurst said the matter was being examined and has now commissioned an external review on the exit schemes for the years 2017 and 2021.

This is an issue that I take very seriously because this is exactly about bringing significant decisions to the executive.”

O’Keeffe did not attend today’s PAC meeting but made it clear that she was watching, as Adrian Lynch told TDs that he had received a text from her to “dispute that no one else on the executive knew” about the contract arrangement.

However, Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe and others said that the committee couldn’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.

Independent TD Verona Murphy said: “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.”

O’Keeffe oversaw a deal that proposed Tubridy could avail of a “possible additional commercial agreement” to the value of €75,000 per contract year. 

This later became the Renault deal.

Includes reporting from Press Association and Eoghan Dalton

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