Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 13 July 2023

Public Accounts Committee

Appropriation and Expenditure of Public Moneys by RTÉ (Resumed): RTÉ

9:30 am

Ms Si?n N? Raghallaigh:

A Chathaoirleach, Teachtaí Dalaí and Seanadóirí, gabhaim buíochas leis na baill as an deis labhairt leo arís inniu. Tuigim go bhfuil clár oibre gnóthach ag an gcoiste agus déanfaidh mé iarracht mo ráiteas a bheith gairid.

At the outset, I wish to reiterate the support of the board of RTÉ for the actions of the new director general, Mr. Kevin Bakhurst. It is fair to say that in a few short days he is steadying the ship of RTÉ by taking swift action on a range of important matters, from leadership reform, to the introduction of a register, and more. I particularly welcome his commitment to ongoing staff engagement. Yes, Mr. Bakhurst is facing up to the issues of the past and the lamentable failures that have emerged, but he is also setting out an ambitious agenda for the secure future of the organisation. On behalf of the board, I welcome this.

At this point in what has been a distressing saga, not least of all for the staff of RTÉ, it is useful to remind ourselves of how these issues first emerged into the public domain. Following the uncovering of financial discrepancies, the audit and risk committee commissioned Grant Thornton to urgently carry out a fact-finding exercise. It is the facts that matter here. Individuals relevant to the fact-finding exercise were interviewed by Grant Thornton and, as stated in the Grant Thornton report, fair procedures applied to everyone in the production of that report. The Grant Thornton report was subsequently furnished to the audit and risk committee and to the broader RTÉ board. It was evident that there was a pressing need and indeed a duty to correct the record regarding payments that had come into the public domain.

The core purpose of the statement of 22 June was to share the facts with the public and to publicly correct false and misleading figures. The facts uncovered by the first Grant Thornton report led, in turn, to the commissioning of the second Grant Thornton process. Yesterday evening, the audit and risk committee and the wider board considered the first instalment of the second Grant Thornton report, namely to independently validate that the remuneration figures for RTÉ's ten highest-paid on-air presenters had been correctly stated publicly, and properly accounted for during the period 2008 to 2022, inclusive. Grant Thornton's review confirms that RTÉ had correctly stated and properly accounted for these figures for the period 2010 to 2022, with the obvious exception of what had already been misstated. Work is ongoing for 2008 to 2009, given the historical nature of those records, and the second instalment, namely a review of the misstatement of 2017 to 2019 figures for Mr. Tubridy.

As chair, I am committed to being as open and transparent as possible and to placing facts in the public domain at the earliest opportunity. That is what I am doing here today. In conclusion, Cathaoirleach, public service media matters, and journalism matters. Monday's "RTÉ Investigates" was a timely reminder of what we mean by this - iImpeccable public service broadcasting that shines the light on an important matter of public interest. This is the RTÉ I believe in, this is the RTÉ that the board and the new director general are dedicated to. Go raibh maith agaibh.