RTÉ now starring in a compelling, spiraling domestic drama

Inside Politics: There is a discernable caution as Government calibrates its response to the unfolding crisis at the broadcaster

Good morning,

RTÉ likes to boast that it excels at producing homegrown drama. But this probably isn’t what it had in mind.

If there’s a newspaper in Ireland that hasn’t had the scandal over Ryan Tubridy’s hidden payments on its front page every day since last Friday, we’ve missed it. As we report in our lead story today, inquiries into the payments are facing pushback. Even at an event covering a topic that most recently dominated the news agenda - security policy - the issue dominated the Taoiseach’s exchanges with reporters.

At Dublin Castle yesterday, Leo Varadkar warned against “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. In that there was a discernable note of caution as the Government seeks to calibrate its response - a hint that despite the well-stocked supplies of antipathy between the Government and RTÉ, and the genuine anger over the affair, the appetite for a full-scale war may be limited.


Varadkar twice expressed confidence in the RTÉ board, indicating that in the absence of a scandal that deteriorates further and extends beyond what is currently known, a wholesale clearout of RTÉ is not currently on the cards - even if some further bloodletting may prove inevitable.

That does not mean that the scandal is over.

Nor does it mean the coming weeks will be anything other than very ugly for the broadcaster as the political system goes into overdrive.

RTÉ has shown an inability to get its arms around the crisis, plunging headlong through another day of drama and controversy on Monday. So long as that spiral continues, plenty of ammunition is being handed to its massed ranks of critics.

The initial goal is to get to the bottom of the crisis, establish who knew what and when, and decide what to do about it. This may take weeks and months, and starts from a bad place with the hallmarks of the government-RTÉ relationship being mutual distrust and a thinly disguised friction at best.

This drama has some way to run yet.

Best reads

Our coverage of the RTÉ pay controversy continues.

Colm Keena on how the broadcaster is structured.

Arthur Beesley on the key questions now facing RTÉ.

Fintan O’Toole on the need for an extended silence from Ryan Tubridy.

John McCartney says there is a flawed obsession with undersupply in housing.


Cabinet has its usual Tuesday morning meeting in Government buildings and you can read Jennifer Bray’s preview of the meeting here.

At Dublin Castle, the final day of the Government’s security forum is being held. Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will make an address at 2.30pm.

The parliamentary week starts with Tuesday morning committee meetings. It’s a 10.30am start for the members of the Joint Committee on Assisted Dying, looking at the issue of consent and capacity.

In the afternoon, the committee on children is holding a sessions dedicated to challenges facing refugee and migrant children. That’s at 3pm, while the foreign affairs committee meets with groups representing Defence Forces members at 3.15pm.

View the full committee schedule here.

In the Seanad, commencement matters are at 12.30pm, followed by motions on various citizens assemblies (Biodiversity Loss and Dublin). In the afternoon, the upper house votes on extending the special criminal court. Private members’ business in the evening is focused on a motion regarding miration into the EU.

The Seanad schedule is here.

The Dáil sits from 2pm with Leaders’ Questions, and Taoiseach’s Questions at 3.20pm. Votes on the special criminal court are in the afternoon, followed by the second stage of legislation giving effect to windfall tax on energy companies. Sinn Féin have a motion on nursing home care at 7.30pm. Paschal Donohoe takes oral questions at 9.30pm, before topical issues at 11pm.

The detailed schedule for the Dáil is here.