Publication of RTÉ reports on Toy Show the Musical debacle and severance deals delayed

National broadcaster signals that reports by accountants Grant Thornton and solicitors McCann FitzGerald are not ready - despite months of investigation

RTÉ has deferred until January the publication of new external reports on the Toy Show the Musical debacle and staff severance deals, defying expectations they would be released by Christmas.

With many questions still unanswered over deep governance failings in the organisation, the development underlines the inevitability of RTÉ turmoil spilling into 2024.

The station has received a Government bailout after the collapse of TV licence sales but there is still no clarity over plans by Minister for Media Catherine Martin to overhaul the funding of public service broadcasting.

In moves highlighting how RTÉ is still struggling to overcome the affair, the national broadcaster has signalled that reports on Toy Show the Musical and severance deals are not ready despite months of investigation behind the scenes. Two further reviews commissioned by Ms Martin are also under way.


The RTÉ board commissioned accountants Grant Thornton to examine the failure of Toy Show the Musical after political uproar in the summer over the €2.2 million loss incurred by the production last Christmas. That unfinished review – dubbed GT3 – follows two previous reports by Grant Thornton on payments to Ryan Tubridy, the former presenter of The Late Late Show.

RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst separately commissioned solicitors McCann FitzGerald to examine voluntary severance programmes for departing staff in 2017 and 2021.

He engaged the legal firm soon after his July appointment in light of questions raised at Oireachtas committee hearings over the terms on which former chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe left RTÉ. One question under examination is whether tax-exempt statutory redundancy payments were “appropriately paid”.

Although witnesses cited in draft reports by Grant Thornton and McCann FitzGerald were given an opportunity in recent days to submit observations to investigators and verify the accuracy of their evidence, the final conclusions are not ready.

Former RTÉ director general Dee Forbes is understood to have told Grant Thornton and McCann FitzGerald that she was unable for medical reasons to assist their work.

Expectations had been building in political circles that the reports would be published this week. However, a source close to the RTÉ board said it was now more likely that the next Grant Thornton report would not be published until early in the new year because work was still ongoing.

Similarly, an RTÉ spokesman said the McCann FitzGerald report remains unfinished. “Work is ongoing to finalise the report. We’ll update on publication in the new year.”

The legal firm has been examining whether the terms and conditions of the severance programme were complied with in each individual case where a voluntary exit offer was made.

Another question was whether there was consistency in the approach taken with individuals who applied to leave but where no voluntary exit offers were made.

In a separate review for the Minister, Prof Niamh Brennan of UCD is examining RTÉ's governance framework. Ms Martin also asked consultant Brendan McGinty to examine how RTÉ engages presenters and contractors.

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Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times