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Simon Harris says he 'hopes' new RTÉ chair will be appointed next week

He also said that putting RTÉ back under the control of the Comptroller and Auditor General is “the sensible thing to do”.

FURTHER AND HIGHER Education Minister Simon Harris has said he “hopes” a new chair of the RTÉ Board will be appointed next week.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics, Harris said:

“We need to appoint a new RTÉ Chair, that appointment’s extremely important, and I hope that appointment can happen this week and government’s trying to do that.”

The Government has been looking for a replacement following the sudden resignation of the board’s chair last week.

Siún Ní Raghallaigh resigned a couple of hours after Minister Catherine Martin gave an interview on Prime Time during which she repeatedly failed to express confidence in the chair of the board.

Martin then faced a grilling at an Oireachtas Committee and was heavily criticised by TDs in the Dáil for her handling of the situation, with many accusing her of effectively sacking the chair on live television. 

She has been backed by all three coalition leaders, however.

Speaking today, Harris said Martin “has done a very good job in relation to this situation and has the full support of everybody in Government”.

Harris also said that putting RTÉ back under the control of the Comptroller and Auditor General is “the sensible thing to do”.

The minister was speaking following reports in TheJournal two weeks ago that the Public Accounts Committee was set to recommend that RTÉ be brought under the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

RTÉ has been shrouded by rolling controversies over the last eight months around issues with finance, governance and culture at the organisation. The move proposed by the PAC would allow for increased scrutiny and oversight of RTÉ by the C&AG and the committee.

The PAC will publish its report into RTÉ on Tuesday morning, which is set to contain several recommendations. Speaking today, Harris said:

“These recommendations sound very like common sense to me. I think putting RTÉ back under the control of the Comptroller and Auditor General is the sensible thing to do.”

Harris also said the Government is “going to settle this question” on the future funding model for the national broadcaster.

Asked about a timeframe, Harris said RTÉ management “haven’t exactly made it easy”.

He said the network should publish aggregate figures for exit payments in the past few years, and publish a methodology paper to restore confidence in the broadcaster.

With reporting from Press Association and Lauren Boland

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