Statement by Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, on RTÉ

  • 23 Jun 2023

He discusses the corporate governance failures surrounding secret payments to Ryan Tubridy announced by RTÉ board

Seamus Dooley said:

The events of the last 48 hours are deeply disturbing and strike at the heart of RTÉ as Irelands premier public service broadcaster. Yesterday the board confirmed undisclosed payments to Ryan Tubridy in an email to all staff. 

These revelations caused upset, anger and resentment right across the organisation, from union activists and members to members of the Management Association to the highest levels of the organisation among trusted individuals excluded from a secret process apparently involving key personnel at the highest level of the organisation.

This is GUBU stuff – grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, and unprecedented in scale.

RTÉ staff feel betrayed and are rightly angry. Yesterday’s comprehensive statement from the board was an honest attempt at placing information on the public record. I struggle to understand why the suspension of the Director General on Wednesday was not announced at the same time. This form of drip, drip announcements, a sort of industrial relations striptease, does nothing to reassure RTÉ employees.

I am mindful of the need for due process and the rights of individuals in this process and I look forward to the Grant Thornton investigation.

I am also mindful of the sense of betrayal felt by workers whom I and colleagues represented in good faith negotiations while a parallel process of negotiations with a third party was undertaken by RTÉ.  That process and the arrangements entered into led to a deception of staff, the public and the government.

RTE staff deserve better.

The Oireachtas deserves better.

The Irish public deserve better.

As Irish Secretary I, along with other NUJ members, raised serious concerns at the practice of third-party contracts for presenters and journalists. The NUJ strongly believes that Ireland’s public service broadcaster should be a model of best practice in regard to employment, corporate governance and public procurement. The notion of third-party contracts and special arrangements does not sit easily with the concept of public service broadcasting.

Yes, RTÉ is a public service broadcaster with a dual funding scheme and there are, therefore, commercial arrangements necessary to secure funding and advertising.

That necessity cannot be used to justify what has been revealed in the past 48 hours.

While no illegality may have occurred, I believe that the review being undertaken by Grant Thornton should only be the beginning of a corporate governance review which examines in forensic detail the third-party arrangements and whether they are appropriate for RTÉ.

I believe we need to be clear eyed and focused on the issue of corporate governance and not be distracted by wider issues.  We need to demand transparency from the Executive Board.

We also need to ensure that those who seek to use these events to prevent proper funding of public service broadcasting are not successful in their mission.

Public service broadcasting matters and it would be the ultimate betrayal if the unacceptable events revealed yesterday were to lead to the undermining of RTE.



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