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As it happened: Catherine Martin says she's 'doing her best' in wake of departure of RTÉ board chair

Members of the opposition have said Catherine Martin’s position as Media Minister is untenable.


CATHERINE MARTIN’S POSITION as Media Minister appeared to be on shaky ground as further controversy engulfed RTÉ.

Shortly before 1am on Friday, the chair of RTÉ’s board Siún Ní Raghallaigh resigned after Martin failed to express confidence in her.

Speaking on Prime Time Thursday night, Martin said she was repeatedly “misinformed” by the RTÉ chair on whether the board signed off on exit packages for two former executives.

Ní Raghallaigh said it was “abundantly clear” her position was “no longer tenable”.

Members of the opposition yesterday said Martin “effectively” sacked Ní Raghallaigh on live television and have called into question the minister’s handling of the situation, saying her own role may be untenable. 

Speaking to the media this yesterday, Martin said she is “doing her best” to “manage a very difficult situation”. 

You can catch up on all the developments from our liveblog of events yesterday. 

Key developments:

  • Labour said Catherine Martin’s position as Media Minister is untenable
  • Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley said Martin effectively sacked Ní Raghallaigh on live television 
  • Questions remain over who at Martin’s Department knew what, and when, about the exit packages
  • The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and a number of Government ministers expressed confidence in Martin
  • RTÉ’s Director General vowed to “bring stability” to the organisatiom
  • The RTÉ Board said the Department of Media was informed in October 2023 of the approval of an exit package for Richard Collins

Updates were by Hayley Halpin, Eimer McAuley and Órla Ryan 

Media Minister Catherine Martin last night told Prime Time that Siún Ní Raghallaigh assured her on Monday and Wednesday the RTÉ board had no involvement in approving exit payments made to executives.

However, she said she was then told yesterday morning that the RTÉ board did play a role in signing off on that of former chief financial officer Richard Collins.

Just before 1am, Ní Raghallaigh released a statement, announcing her resignation.

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.

Ní Raghallaigh statement

RTÉ has come under political pressure to disclose the details of exit packages given to some executives, following the revelation that former chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe received a voluntary redundancy package worth €450,000.

Ní Raghallaigh said this morning that in recent meetings with Minister Martin she admitted she was aware of the exit packages of former director of strategy Rory Coveney and former chief financial officer Richard Collins.

“I said that I was aware of them, but they had not come before the full board.

“However, I neglected to recollect that Richard Collin’s exit package did go before the renumeration committee. This was not an intentional misrepresentation, and I subsequently contacted the Department to clarify the details and remind them that I had previously appraised them of the matter in October.”

file-photo-chair-of-the-board-of-rte-siun-ni-raghallaigh-has-announced-she-is-stepping-down-from-her-position-saying-she-no-longer-had-the-confidence-of-minister-for-media-catherine-martin-end Siún Ní Raghallaigh (file photo) Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Ní Raghallaigh said RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst had brought the exit package of Coveney to her attention, while the exit package of Collins “was brought to and approved by the remuneration committee of the board of RTÉ” in October.

Following Martin’s comments last night, Ní Raghallaigh said it is “abundantly clear” that she no longer has the confidence of the minister.

“As such, my position is no longer tenable.”

Martin thanks Ní Raghallaigh

In a statement issued just before 9am, Minister Martin said: “I wish to thank Siún Ní Raghallaigh for her service as Chair of the Board of RTÉ at a time of unprecedented crisis at the national broadcaster.

file-photo-chair-of-the-board-of-rte-siun-ni-raghallaigh-has-announced-she-is-stepping-down-from-her-position-saying-she-no-longer-had-the-confidence-of-minister-for-media-catherine-martin-end Media Minister Catherine Martin (file photo) Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

“Her contribution to the process of reform and transformation underway in the organisation has been hugely significant; and her hard work and commitment to public service broadcasting must be acknowledged.”

“At this critical time for RTÉ, it is imperative that we continue the important process of restoring trust in the organisation. As Ms Ní Raghallaigh stated, there is an urgent need for the transformation process to continue and a sustainable funding model put in place – I am deeply committed to this.”

Pressure on Catherine Martin

Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne, a member of the Oireachtas Media Committee, this morning told The Journal he is “not overly happy with the way this has been handled”.

“We need to see the full accounts of engagements between Siún Ní Raghallaigh and the Minister and any Department officials. I would have preferred any decisions to have been made following discussions between the Minister and the Chair.

If it does transpire that the Department was aware of the process surrounding Richard Collins’ exit package, this brings the Department into this dispute.

Byrne added that Kevin Bakhurst “is doing an honest job trying to reform the organisation”.

“There is an urgency now to recognise and support the importance of that work. That does not take away the need for accountability and transparency but we also need to know that we will have an RTE at the end of all this (which, frankly, I had hoped would have happened by now).”


Labour’s media spokesperson Marie Sherlock has gone a step further and said Catherine Martin’s position as Media Minister is now untenable.

“From the former Chairperson’s statement last night, it appears that Minister Martin was in fact kept abreast of details of exit packages some former RTÉ executives received.

“Ní Raghallaigh’s statement suggests that the Department has a written record of notification from the Board following the remuneration committee’s approval of exit packages.”

Senator Sherlock called for this record to be published in full immediately.

“The Media Minister is the protector of RTÉ but crucially, the Minister should be the protector of the public purse.

“The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste must now reflect on the Media Minister’s handling of this whole debacle, and ask, is she the person to ensure that necessary reforms take place in RTÉ that will be crucial to its survival, and is she the person who can restore public trust in the State broadcaster?”

On Newstalk’s Breakfast Briefing Labour Leader Ivana Bacik said Minister Martin has questions to answer.

file-photo-labour-leader-ivana-bacik-has-called-on-minister-catherine-martin-to-answer-questions-on-the-circumstances-leading-to-siun-ni-raghallaighs-resignation-end Ivana Bacik (file photo) Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

“It is certainly very dramatic overnight news and I think no one can doubt Siún Ní Raghallaigh has given a good deal of public service,” Bacik said.

“It was rather shocking to see what amounted to a summary dismissal on air by the minister last night. I think the minister now has questions to answer about why she moved in the way she did – in this rather peremptory manner.”

When asked if Martin had lost control of the RTÉ crisis, Bacik said: “It certainly appears that developments are taking place and that the minister is not on top of them.”

'Effectively sacked' on live TV

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, described Martin’s interview on Prime Time last night as “bizarre”.

sinn fein 522_90620886 Brian Stanley (file photo) Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Stanley said Martin “effectively” sacked Ní Raghallaigh on live television when she refused to say she had confidence in her.

After her handling of the RTÉ crisis in recent months, Stanley said Ní Raghallaigh has come out of it “reasonably well”.

“The Minister should have waited, I believe, until she had an opportunity to speak with Siún Ní Raghallaigh and Kevin Bakhurst today to trash out their timelines, the sequence of events, and to hear exactly what Siún Ní Raghallaigh had to say. And then she could make her judgement as to whether she had confidence or not.”

'Brutal treatment of Ní Raghallaigh'

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns said Martin has “serious questions to answer”.

Cairns noted that, in her resignation statement, Ní Raghallaigh said she informed the Department of the process involved in the resignation of Richard Collins the day after he left the organisation.

“Are we to understand from this that the Department was, in fact, aware that there had been an exit package and that it had been approved by the Chair? If so, was the Minister informed and, if not, why not?”

Cairns said Martin “showed a lamentable lack of judgement in agreeing to proceed” with the TV interview before meeting Ní Raghallaigh to clarify certain details. She said the minister instead “preferred to effectively fire her live on air on RTÉ’s flagship current affairs programme”.

The net result of this is that an already crisis-engulfed broadcaster has been thrown into further turmoil.

“Given the brutal treatment of Ms Ní Raghallaigh by the Minister, and this escalating crisis, it is unlikely that successor candidates will be lining up to take on the job that is now vacant.

“RTÉ cannot be left rudderless at a time when the organisation is in such turmoil. A large degree of that turmoil can be ascribed to the hands-off approach and chronic indecision of a Minister who has not kept on top of this ongoing crisis.”

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation will be a further blow to the morale of staff at RTÉ.

“The resignation of the Chair is the latest twist in an ongoing saga which has gravely damaged morale of staff and undermined public
confidence. The Government must act immediately to appoint a new Chair to avoid a period of further uncertainty.

“In my dealings with Siún Ní Raghallaigh, I found her to be a person of integrity, collaborative, sensitive to the concerns of staff and
committed to public service.

“Minister Catherine Martin has also shown herself to be aware of the legitimate concerns of staff and clearly acknowledges the depth of anger among staff at recent revelations regarding payments to executives exiting the organisation.

“The NUJ has consistently demanded full transparency in relation to all aspects of executive renumeration and it behoves the Government to
ensure that this is delivered.”

Harris defends Martin

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has defended his Government colleague Catherine Martin, saying he rejects “out of hand” the assertion that her position is untenable.

910Cabinet Meetings_90681893 Minister Simon Harris (file photo) Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, Harris said Martin will provide clarity on who knew what and when about the exit packages, and asked senior RTÉ officials to do the same.

“It’s not exactly clear what the Department did and didn’t know,” Harris said.

“People are asking questions today – it would be odd if they weren’t, this is a story that is dominating media coverage for nearly eight months now.

But I don’t think people want more questions. They want more answers. And there is that opportunity to provide those answers day.

“I know Minister Martin intends to speak to this matter today. And I know Minister Martin intends to provide that clarity today because there is a vagueness in the former chair’s statement around October and it’s important that that is cleared up and I know the Minister is very eager to do that.”

Also speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, Labour leader Ivana Bacik doubled down on comments made earlier by her party colleague Marie Sherlock

“The minister’s position looks really increasingly untenable because something is just not adding up,” Bacik stated.

She said Martin’s interview on Prime Time was “extraordinary” as the minister “did effectively conduct a summary dismissal of the chair of a State board on air”.

“I think that any watcher or listener will think, ‘Why didn’t she contact the chair of the board first?’”

Bacik stopped short of saying Martin should resign but said clarity is urgently needed.

More ministers defend Martin

Government Ministers Helen McEntee and Roderic O’Gorman have come out backing Catherine Martin this morning.

Cuan launch-8_90699918 Ministers Roderic O'Gorman and Helen McEntee pictured in Dublin this morning

Speaking to reporters including our own Jane Matthews at the launch of Cuan, the State’s new Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Agency in Dublin a short while ago, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said she thinks Martin has handled this latest RTÉ controversy “the best way possible”.

McEntee said she does not agree with calls from the Labour Party that Minister Martin’s position is untenable and said she supports Minister Martin in her work.

“She gave a commitment to do an interview and fulfilled that commitment. What she simply did last night was outline the facts as they happened throughout the week,” McEntee said.

Martin’s Green Party colleague, Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman also said he has full confidence in the media minister.

McEntee said it is regrettable that a meeting between Martin and resigned RTÉ chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh will not go ahead this morning.

She said people want information and transparency.

“The only way that we can have confidence is by knowing all of the facts… and I don’t believe we’re at that point just yet,” McEntee said.

Martin asked to make statement in Dáil

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy said the handling of the “debacle” at RTÉ by the Government “has been a shambles from start to finish” and Catherine Martin “has serious questions to answer”.

“The Government have been on the back foot at every turn, particularly Minister Catherine Martin. Every time she’s put on the spot she says she’s not responsible, that it’s someone else’s problem.

Carthy said the events of the last 24 hours “won’t surprise anyone”.

“It now transpires that her Department was aware of at least one of the exit packages in October. Why did the Minister not know? She should come before the Dáil next week and answer serious questions on the matter so that all of the facts are in the public domain.”

Carthy also called for RTÉ to be brought back under the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

“This would also have the effect of ensuring the Public Accounts Committee can provide adequate oversight of its finances. We must see that happen now without delay.”

An RTÉ statement read out on Today with Claire Byrne in the last few minutes notes that Director General Kevin Bakhurst and former chair of the RTÉ board Siún Ní Raghallaigh met with Minister Catherine Martin for over three hours this week and “a large volume of issues were addressed and discussed”.

“Within that context, some confusion arose regarding a question from the minister to the chair about the approval by the RTÉ board of the exit of former CFO Richard Collins.

“The chair had in fact informed the Department about the process which led to Richard Collins’ departure from RTÉ on the 10th of October, the day after it was approved at the remuneration committee, which has delegated powers from the board.

This detail was taken as read, although it seems now that it shouldn’t have been.

“After checking the minutes of the remuneration committee, the chair moved swiftly to correct this detail with Department officials on Thursday and remind them that the correct process had been followed, and that the chair had previously informed the Department of same.”

Emergency RTÉ meeting

The RTÉ board is due to hold an emergency meeting this afternoon, it has been confirmed.

The Journal’s Eimer McAuley on Monday asked Minister Catherine Martin when she was first briefed on the exit packages.

She said this week, but RTÉ has now said Martin’s department was told about an exit package for Richard Collins last October.

Broadcaster Vincent Browne is among those defending Siún Ní Raghallaigh today, describing her as “incapable of deliberately misleading anybody”.

A spokesperson for the RTÉ board has confirmed to The Journal that the group will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon with an update to follow afterwards.

Amid mounting pressure, it has been confirmed that Minister Catherine Martin will make a statement on the situation later this afternoon. 

Minister Simon Harris called on Director General Kevin Bakhurst and other senior RTÉ officials to make public the amount paid in exit packages, and publish the minutes of the renumeration committee meetings. 

“This constant saga needs to end,” he told Claire Byrne. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin have both expressed confidence in Catherine Martin, our Political Editor Christina Finn reports. 

RTÉ DG vows to 'bring stability'

008RTE Meet Minister_90699601 RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst (file photo) Sasko Lazarov / Sasko Lazarov / /

RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst has vowed to “bring stability” to the organisation following the resignation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh.

In a note to staff, he said: “My role, now more than ever, is to bring stability to the very regrettable chaos that continues to threaten all attempts to move forward.

“But I and the Interim Leadership Team are intent on moving forward, with you.

“We remain committed to RTÉ and to continuing to drive the necessary change to secure the future of this organisation and transform it into a national public service media organisation we can all be proud of.”

Bakhurst said Ní Raghallaigh’s decision to resign was “understandably unsettling” and paid tribute to her, saying she was an excellent chairperson.

People Before Profit says Minister has serious questions to answer

People Before Profit are calling for a Dáil Q & A session to be held in relation to the ongoing revelations concerning RTÉ exit packages, and what Media Minister Catherine Martin knew and when.

The party believes that the Minister has “serious questions” to answer.

- Reporting from The Journal’s Political Editor Christina Finn. 

Chair of Media Committee says Catherine Martin's officials have questions to answer

NIAMH SMYTH TD, the chair of the Oireachtas Media and Culture Committee has said that the officials working under Catherine Martin need to come before politicians to answer questions. 

Speaking on the RTÉ News at One radio programme, Smyth said that the committee needs to establish the “what, where and why” of the exit packages that RTÉ paid out to former executives, and what the Media Minister knew about it. 

Smyth said that the minutes of the 9 October meeting, which RTÉ has said was when the broadcaster first informed Martin’s officials of details about Richard Collins’s exit package. 

Martin has accused the now ex-chair of the RTÉ board Súin Ní Raghallaigh of misleading her twice in the last week, by telling her that the RTÉ board did not approve Collins’s package, when she in fact sat on a committee which did. 

Ní Raghallaigh said that on Monday and Wednesday she failed to recollect this information, but that Martin’s team were informed of it in October of last year. 

Smyth, the Oireachtas Media committee chair said that there has been a “culture of secrecy” within RTÉ. 

She said more oversight is needed, and the last thing RTÉ needs now is “further resignations”. 

Smyth once again called for former executives who got exit payments that were accompanied by confidentiality agreements to waive their right to privacy, and to make the details of their exit packages known. 

The Media Committee will meet next Wednesday. 

Media Minister Catherine Martin to address media, and appear on Six One News

Media Minister Catherine Martin is to appear before the media to make a statement and take questions after 4pm this afternoon. 

She is also set to appear on the Six One News. 

Currently, members of the RTÉ board are convened for an emergency meeting regarding the exit payments controversy, and the resignation of chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh. 

There have also been calls for the resignation of the Minister, chiefly from the Labour Party. 

Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley has said that Martin “effectively sacked” the chair on live tv. 

If you’re looking for a recap on the events of the last few days, reporter Lauren Boland has put together an explainer of the events that led up to Siún Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation in the early hours of the morning – and the fallout.

You can read that here

Former RTÉ political correspondent David Davin-Power has said he understands the RTÉ board has met and are remaining in their positions. 

Minister for Media Catherine Martin is to address the media at 4.45pm this afternoon. 

Update from RTÉ Board

The RTÉ Board has said the Department of Media was informed in October 2023 of the approval of an exit package for Richard Collins. 

In a statement this afternoon, the Board said the Remuneration Committee met on 9 October 2023 to consider the recommendation arising from the mediation process relating to Richard Collins. 

The Director General attended this meeting, according to the Board. 

It said the recommendation was approved by the Committee, as is delegated under its terms of reference. 

The Board has said that the day after this meeting, on 10 October, Siún Ní Raghallaigh contacted the Secretary General of the Department of Media directly by phone and updated her about the meeting and its outcome – that it approved an agreement with Richard Collins. 

“The RTÉ Board was updated about this approval at its next meeting, 26 October. Approval by the full RTÉ Board was not required,” it said. 

Minister Catherine Martin is now making a statement outside Government Buildings.

We’ll bring you the latest lines in the coming minutes. 

Minister Martin has said she is “aware of suggestions” that Ms Ní Raghallaigh had informed the former Secretary General of the Department of Media that the “Board had approved the exit package for Richard Collins”. 

“I discussed this matter with the former Secretary General yesterday and today to check if this was the case. She has been clear that while she was informed by phone that the independent mediation process on the exit package for Mr Collins had finally reached a conclusion, she has no recollection of being told that it was approved by the Board’s Remuneration Committee,” Martin has said. 

The Minister said she was “deeply disapppointed” that Ní Raghallaigh “had not given me accurate information when I raised it specifically on two occasions during the week”. 

Martin said she wrote to Ní Raghallaigh yesterday evening asking for a meeting this morning. 

“I believed the failure to properly answer my questions was so serious that it required a formal meeting,” Martin told reporters. 

The Minister said she also conveyed the situation to the coalition leaders yesterday evening “in order to keep them fully informed”. 

C Martin Minister Catherine Martin speaking to the media outside Government Buildings

Martin told reporters: “Needless to say, it would have been my preference not to deal with this matter live on air. This was, however, a pre-arranged interview, and given how the situation had evolved yesterday and in the interest of transparency, I felt I had to address the matter.”

The Minister said that “at all times” her focus has been “on reforming RTÉ and ensuring that it and other public broadcasters are placed on a secure and sustainable position into the future”. 

“This is vital for both staff at the broadcaster and the wider viewing public,” Martin said. 

“I will shortly receive the in-depth expert reports that I commissioned into how RTÉ operates and am determined to secure a Government decision on the future funding model for public service broadcasting in Ireland.” 

“I am doing my best to manage a very difficult situation,” Minister Martin tells reporters. 

Our Political Reporter Jane Matthews is at the press conference at Government Buildings. 

She is providing updates from the scene: 

Martin said “it’s a shame” that she didn’t get to have a meeting with Ní Raghallaigh today. 

“I would have liked that to have happened this morning,” she said. 

“I think it’s a shame to make any decision without talking through in person, face to face, just like we did during the week,” Martin added. 

Minister Martin has told reporters: “I’m confident that I’ve done everything in my power to act in a way that is honest and transparent … doing everything in my power to get this organisation on a level footing.” 

The RTÉ Board has issued a statement confirming that it is “committeed to continuing to discharge its duties”. 

The Board had met this afternoon to discuss the events of the last 24 hours. 

“The Board believes it has a duty to ensure stability and to continue to support the work of the Director General and the leadership team in progressing the ambitious and necessary reform agenda that is critical to the future of this organisation, as well as supporting the dedicated staff across RTÉ who continue to work day-in and day-out in the delivery of public service media to the people of Ireland,” the statement said. 

“The independence of RTÉ is a priority for the Board, and that is also a factor in their commitment to the organisation, and to the imperative of public service broadcasting,” it added. 

The Board said it is is working with the Government appointed External Advisory Committees and awaits their recommendations, “which will build upon the significant changes that have already taken place”.

A secure funding model for RTÉ and public service media must remain our shared collective objective,” the Board said.

It said it has requested a meeting with Minister Catherine Martin “at the earliest opportunity”. 

The RTÉ Board, in its statement, expressed its “sincere gratitude” to Siún Ní Raghallaigh.

“We would like to … express our great disappointment and regret that she was placed in a position whereby she felt that she had no option but to resign,” the Board said. 

It continued: “A person of the utmost integrity, we thank Siún for her dedication, decency, diligence and above all for her unswerving commitment to RTÉ and to the future of public service media in Ireland.

“She was a reforming and energetic Chair, who brought very significant and important expertise and experience to the role, working with her fellow Board members, the Director General and members of the RTÉ leadership team in driving much needed governance reform and seeking to forge a more secure future for the organisation.”

Here’s a clip of Martin saying she is doing her best to “manage a very difficult situation”. 

Minister Catherine Martin addressing the media outside Government Buildings this afternoon.

Catherine Martin-4_90699947 Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Mattie McGrath TD has called for Minister Catherine Martin’s resignation. 

“It is evident that Minister Martin’s handling of this entire situation has been reckless and incompetent, making her position untenable,” McGrath said in a statement. 

“Her lack of oversight and inability to grasp critical details surrounding RTÉ’s governance and financial matters is deeply concerning,” he said. 

“It is imperative that Minister Martin be held accountable for her actions. The taxpayers deserve better stewardship of public resources and transparency in government affairs.”

Media Minister Catherine Martin is now speaking to RTÉ Six One News. 

We’ll bring you lines from the interview soon. 

Minister Martin says it was “certainly not” her intention to leave Siún Ní Raghallaigh with no option but to resign as a result of the RTÉ Prime Time interview. 

When asked when there will be a new Chair of the RTÉ Board, Martin said: “That is something that I hope to move on now.” 

“Under the Act, I can move to recommend a nomination to Government who will then appoint and I want to do that as soon as possible,” she said.  

That’s all from us on the liveblog.

Thanks for sticking with us as we kept you up to date throughout the day.

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