RTÉ crisis ‘worsening’ over exit package revelations, chair of Oireachtas Media Committee says

Fianna Fáil’s Niamh Smyth says broadcaster should not have agreed to confidentiality clauses

The Chair of the Oireachtas Media Committee Niamh Smyth has said she is “deeply concerned” about recent revelations regarding exit packages at RTÉ.

Ms Smyth also said there needs to be “honesty and transparency” at a meeting requested by Minister for Media Catherine Martin with RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst and Chair of the Board Siún Ní Raghallaigh on Monday.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, the Fianna Fáil TD said for the minister to summon Mr Bakhurst and Ms Ní Raghallaigh signals “the crisis is worsening”.

RTÉ is facing strong political pressure to reveal the details of exit packages paid to senior executives who have left the station in recent years.


It was reported over the weekend that the former director of strategy Rory Coveney, who oversaw the failed Toy Show the Musical project that lost €2.3 million, was paid about €200,000 when he left the station last year.

In a statement, RTÉ said that the former chief financial officer Richard Collins left the station last year after “independent mediation”. It said that the agreement included a “binding confidentiality clause that was agreed to by both sides and in the interest of fairness and respect cannot be breached”.

Ms Smyth said the approval of a confidentiality clause by RTÉ didn’t “bode well to this idea that we are going to be given full transparency”.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD questioned why Mr Collins’ package should be confidential and added that she would like to see the legal advice received around it.

She said she couldn’t see how such a clause was allowed or acceptable to the board.

“None of that speaks to what we were promised, which was openness, transparency, and I’m not sure it plays to good governance either,” she said.

Ms Smyth said she wanted “full transparency” around all exit packages, which was “an obvious requirement from the DG and from the board”.

She also said it was important the Director General and the chair “come clean” with the minister and the Oireachtas Media Committee.

“It appears we’re not out of the woods with these issues yet,” she said.

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Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times