RTE fat cats accused of milking the State
RTE fat cats accused of milking the State


There have been calls for a proper forensic audit of the Irish state broadcaster after it was alleged that millions of euro have been drained from RTE in a free-for-all by those leaving the organisation following recent scandals.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin admitted former RTÉ chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe’s €450,000 “voluntary exit package” should be reconsidered after the chair of the Dublin parliament’s public spending watchdog, Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, called on Ms O’Keeffe to pay the money back.

Details of exit packages for the former RTÉ executives have been emerging since it emerged in July that top TV celebrity Ryan Tubridy was controversially paid €345,000 as part of a secretive deal with then Director-General Dee Forbes.

Adding to the public outrage is the fact that the outrageous salaries and unexplained payments have been funded by television licence fees extracted from the Irish public.

Forbes, who has since stepped down due to ill-health, has failed to attend the parliamentary committee which is currently making efforts to understand the six-figure golden handshakes which the senior RTE executives have been awarding themselves.

Former RTÉ head of strategy Rory Coveney – the ‘driving force’ behind the infamous €2.3m loss-making ‘Toy Show’ musical fiasco, and a brother of Fine Gael Minister Simon Coveney – was paid an unknown figure, believed to be hundreds of thousands of euro, as part of his deal to exit the national broadcaster.

It was also revealed the broadcaster’s former chief financial officer, Richard Collins – who struggled to recall his own salary before a parliamentary committee last year – is a multi-millionaire with a €3m property investment portfolio.

Forbes, Coveney, O’Keeffe, Collins, former chair Moya Doherty, former commercial director Geraldine O’Leary, former director of content Jim Jennings and former board members Conor Murphy and Ian Kehoe have all declined to attend the Dáil hearings.

The new RTÉ director general, Kevin Bakhurst (pictured), did attend, but claimed ‘confidentiality clauses’ which he signed now prevent him from revealing details of the handouts.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure, Rose Conway-Walsh TD, criticised what she said was the coalition’s “mixed messaging” around RTÉ as government figures contradicted themselves on increased financial oversight of the organisation.

Government TDs were “acting like the opposition” while they continue to vote with the government up in Dublin.

“For months, I have been calling on the government to end the exemption RTÉ has from being audited by the state auditor,” she said.

“Sinn Féin has been clear and consistent. The current system, where oversight is conducted solely by a private auditor, is unsatisfactory.”

She pointed out that the coalition government has the power to legislate to involve the state auditor.

“The government needs to get serious about this issue and stop acting like spectators. The public wants to see decisive action.”

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