NUJ welcomes terms of government review in RTÉ

  • 04 Jul 2023

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media announced the review today.

The National Union of Journalists has welcomed publication of the terms of the government’s review into corporate governance and workplace culture at RTÉ. The terms of reference and the composition of the expert advisory committees have been described by Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, as “a welcome first step in restoring public confidence in RTÉ.”

Speaking at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) Biennial Delegate meeting in Kilkenny on 4 July, Dooley said the union looks forward to engaging with the review and acknowledged the response of Ms Martin to representations from the NUJ and the RTÉ Trade Union Group to calls for the review to include an examination of workplace culture and industrial relations.

He said:

“We are under no illusion about the scale of the challenges facing RTÉ. This review will address key issues which are fundamental to the working lives of our members. Workplace change will be essential but what is also needed is a change of mindset on the part of senior management, a change which recognises that workers should never feel excluded from the workplace and should never be treated as unequal.”

At conference, Dooley proposed an emergency motion on behalf of Connect, NUJ and SIPTU calling on RTÉ management to work toward a return to the values of public service broadcasting. In moving the motion, he said that at the heart of the crisis in RTÉ was the manner in which editorial and ethical values have been subordinated to commercial considerations.

Commenting on recent revelations of undisclosed payments to Ryan Tubridy he said:

“The vulgar, ostentatious junkets, the sense of entitlement, the greed, the contempt for ordinary workers and the disregard for the principles of honesty, truth and good faith negotiations reflect a conflict of values as much as a conflict of interest between those who believe in public service and those who believe that RTÉ exists to fill their well-lined pockets.

“For some, the €110,00 bill for travel and hotels to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan or the €138,000 spent on10-year IRFU season tickets is a minor manner, but they speak to a culture which has informed those who do not respect the principles of public service broadcasting.”

Emergency motion on RTÉ crisis.

RTÉ Crisis

This Biennial Delegate Meeting notes with grave concern the existential crisis at RTÉ following the revelations of undisclosed payments to Ryan Tubridy made via a secretive account and authorised by then Director General Ms Dee Forbes.

The secret payments made via a third-party agency occurred during a period of financial crisis in RTÉ. Trade union members have been betrayed by the actions of members of the RTÉ executive board and the trust which underpins industrial relations has been broken.

At the time when the secret agreements were made, the RTÉ Trade Union Group had been presented with verified financial statements which informed negotiations with management.

Information was withheld from the TUG and management representatives engaged in the negotiations to keep a separate deal secret. The fact that secret, undisclosed payments were negotiated by RTÉ with a third-party agency in a parallel process has shattered the faith of trade unions and members in the industrial relations process and has undermined the relationship between RTÉ, the RTÉ Trade Union Group (TUG) and constituent unions.

The additional payments made to Ryan Tubridy were not revealed by the Director General or members of the Executive Board at direct meetings with the officers of the TUG and officials.

BDC affirms its belief in the importance of public service broadcasting as a cornerstone of democracy. There has never been a greater need for a properly resourced, independent public service broadcaster, free of political or commercial control.

BDC urges the Government to proceed with plans for the reform of the funding structure of public service broadcasting. Corporate governance failures by the RTÉ Executive Board should not be used to justify the refusal of successive governments to provide adequate funding for the retention and development of public service broadcasting.

BDC welcomes in principle the establishment of an independent review of the administration and culture of RTE by Ms Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media. BDC supports the demand of the TUG for the inclusion of an examination of the workplace culture within RTÉ in any review. It is vital that any review body must be reflective of the interests of workers.

BDC congratulates the RTÉ TUG and constituent unions for their strong stand in support of workers who hold no responsibility for the actions and inactions which have led to this crisis.

In welcoming the governance review, BDC reminds management that adherence to best practice regarding employment standards, employee relations, equality, health and safety, public procurement, transparency, competition law and corporate governance are essential in the operation of a public service broadcaster.

BDC calls on RTÉ’s board to take immediate steps to ensure that the core principles of public service broadcasting are respected and not compromised due to commercial considerations.

National Union of Journalists



Script for Emergency Motion.docx



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