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RTÉ Toy Show the Musical planned too few shows for break even and sponsorship was overstated - report

Contract for venue signed before board could consider matter formally and prior to documentation being furnished, report notes

Toy Show The Musical. Photograph: Ste Murray

The number of showings planned for the RTÉ Toy Show the Musical was never enough to break even while the amount of sponsorship secured was overstated, a new report into the controversy has found.

Minister for Media Catherine Martin has received the Grant Thornton report which examines governance around the Toy Show the Musical, which went on to record losses of €2.2 million. The show ran over several weeks at the Convention Centre, Dublin, in late 2022.

Three senior sources have said the matter is being viewed as extremely serious within Government and that it comes at a sensitive time when Ministers were due to weigh up future funding models for the broadcaster.

It is understood the report finds the contract for the venue was signed before the RTÉ board could formally consider the matter and before documentation was brought to the board.


While there may have been an ad-hoc meeting, the board did not give formal approval for the project before agreements were put in place, the report finds.

The number of shows being planned was never going to be sufficient to break even and there were unrealistic expectations around how many tickets would be sold when compared to similar productions, it said. The procedures RTÉ normally applied to projects worth more than €2 million were not implemented in this case, it added.

A source said the report — likely to be published on Thursday — notes that there was no formal board meeting to advance the proposals.

The focus in Government has already turned to accountability for the governance issues described by the report. There is a growing view within the Coalition that accountability will have to come from the RTÉ board and the RTÉ executive.

“This is not good for either of them,” said one source, while another said, “it is very, very serious: the question of accountability is the next step.”

Minutes of RTÉ board meetings previously indicated that there was a “lapse of control” around the ill-fated musical and a failure by the board to halt the project.

Some 30 people were interviewed by the auditors although it is understood that none of them have been named.

A second report examining whether staff severance deals at the broadcaster were managed correctly is also due to be completed and published shortly.

A spokeswoman for Ms Martin said the Minister would give the report “due consideration over the coming days”.

Meanwhile, RTÉ staff were told by email on Wednesday that certain staff and contractors will be required to make an annual return to the register of interests.

The email does not make clear who will be affected but says letters will issue to staff concerned in the coming days. A separate register of external activities will also begin this month, which will be published every quarter from February 1st this year.

Staff were also told that it was a “fundamental rule” that no RTÉ locations, studios, equipment, brands or social media links be used to promote outside commercial interests or activities — applying to staff, contractors, studio guests and panellists.

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Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times