RTÉ audit committee raised ‘significant concerns’ about Toy Show the Musical accounting

Musical, which ran over several weeks in Dublin last Christmas, made a loss of €2.2m

Toy Show The Musical. Photograph: Ste Murray

A forthcoming report by auditors Grant Thornton into the controversial RTÉ Toy Show the Musical is expected to detail issues around how sponsorship revenue was reflected in the accounts of the ill-fated production.

The musical, which ran over several weeks in the Convention Centre in Dublin last Christmas, made a loss of €2.2 million, amid a shortfall in ticket sales.

The project came in for major criticism and, despite initial plans to stage the production annually, it has since been scrapped.

The audit committee of RTÉ's board earlier this year raised “significant concerns” around the treatment of sponsorship revenue in the musical’s accounts, records show.


Minutes of a July 4th meeting of the committee show board members expressed “unhappiness” with figures that had been provided to directors. The committee stated “that there are significant concerns around how the sponsorship revenue had been reflected in the accounts” of the musical.

The minutes of the meeting, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show the committee also queried how figures related to the musical were being treated in the accounts of the commercial arm of RTÉ.

The meeting had been called at the instigation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh, chair of the RTÉ board, to discuss issues with the project.

The following day, Minister for Media Catherine Martin announced in a statement that RTÉ had commissioned Grant Thornton to carry out an investigation into the show.

Grant Thornton had previously produced a report detailing how RTÉ had under-reported the salary of former presenter Ryan Tubridy over several years, which sparked a major scandal that has rocked the broadcaster over recent months.

It is expected the latest report by the accountancy firm into Toy Show the Musical will be published by RTÉ in the coming days, with one source stating it could land later this week.

Documents show the audit committee of the broadcaster’s board met again on July 10th to discuss the terms of reference for the review into the production.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh told the meeting the review would look at how RTÉ management “prepared the business case” for the musical, including the concept for the production, financial projections and how key decisions were made.

Susan Ahern, a barrister and RTÉ board member, said it was important the investigation examined what processes had been in place at both executive and board level when it came to approving the project, minutes show.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh previously told a meeting of the full RTÉ board at the start of July that there had been “a lapse of control” at board level when it came to the musical. The fact there had been “no risk assessment” carried out pointed to a “weakness in board controls”, she said.

Rory Coveney, then-RTÉ director of strategy who oversaw the project and attended the July 4th audit committee meeting, declined to comment on the matter when contacted on Monday.

Further internal records show that former RTÉ director general Dee Forbes had decided the musical would not go ahead this year as early as May, before the Tubridy payments controversy emerged the following month.

A May 23rd meeting of the audit committee discussed the project, with minutes outlining the director general had noted the musical “would not be performed this year”.

In July, current RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst said that rather than being shelved for a year, the musical was being scrapped entirely.

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Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times