RTÉ crisis: Catherine Martin and RTÉ board at odds - as it happened

Board seeks meeting with Minister in wake of Siún Ní Raghallaigh departure after Martin claimed she was misinformed

Ní Raghallaigh Martin


Minister for Media Catherine Martin and the board of RTÉ have come into conflict in the fallout of the resignation of chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh.

The departure of the chair came mere hours after Ms Martin said she was “misinformed” by Ms Ní Raghallaigh, when she provided assurances the RTÉ board had no role in signing off on recent exit packages for senior executives.

Despite the assurances, Ms Martin said it had emerged the remuneration committee of the board – which is chaired by Ms Ní Raghallaigh – did approve the exit package of former chief financial officer Richard Collins.

The RTÉ board has said then-secretary general of the Department of Media, Katherine Licken, was “directly” briefed by Ms Ní Raghallaigh on the outcome of the remuneration committee meeting on October 9th, which approved the exit package of Mr Collins. In response, Ms Martin said the former senior official recalled being informed by phone that the mediation process had concluded, but not that the board had a role in approving the exit package.

The board, which decided to remain in place during an emergency meeting today, said the Minister had placed the former chair in a position where she had “no option” but to resign.

Ms Martin has now come under pressure from opposition politicians herself, some of whom have called for her resignation.

Key reads


Current Affairs Editor Arthur Beesley has a timeline on how the latest development in the RTÉ story unfolded here: RTÉ payments scandal: 10 days that shook the national broadcaster once again, and some in-depth analysis on the saga here: Conflicting accounts and opaque recall an all too predictable RTÉ development.


Elsewhere, the chair of the Oireachtas media committee Niamh Smyth has written to Ms Martin inviting her to come before the committee next Tuesday evening.

She has said that Ms Martin is welcome to bring officials with her to assist her, including her former secretary general Katherine Licken, who has now become a figure in this latest chapter of the long running RTÉ controversy.

“I’ve actioned and written to the Minister to come before the committee on Tuesday and invited her to bring along her officials and her former secretary general if that will be helpful to her,” Ms Smyth said. “I am really hopeful this will allow people to move on,” she said.


Catherine Martin’s toughest day in office

Catherine Martin had perhaps her toughest encounter with the media during her four years as Minister for Media when standing over her interview on Prime Time on Thursday night that triggered the resignation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh as chair of the RTÉ board, Harry McGee writes.

It was clear from the Minister’s comments during the half-hour press conference that if Ní Raghallaigh had not resigned of her own volition in the early hours of Friday morning, it would have been doubtful if she would have survived the day as chair.

Asked repeatedly if she would have fired her, Martin said that she wanted to have a “face-to-face” meeting with Ní Raghallaigh and it was a “shame” she made a decision to resign ahead of the meeting. While not explicitly saying she would have asked for her resignation, Martin’s replies were peppered with words like “disappointed” and “inaccurate information”.

Her key argument as she outlined to the press conference was that Siún Ní Raghallaigh had told her on numerous occasions this week the board had no role in the decision around the exit package with former director of finance Richard Collins. Then on Thursday the chair had told Martin that in fact the board had approved the package and she had chaired the meeting that approved it.

“I just don’t understand if (the chair) is asked on numerous occasions on two days in one week, to clarify this and knowing that after one of the meetings that I went out, I made a point, to clarify that I had been informed that the chair had no role whatsoever...

“Having known that this had been reported, and tweeted about (on Monday), we met again on Wednesday and I needed to be 100 per cent sure of this. I teased it out even more on Wednesday.

“(Then) To find out on Thursday, she was not only at the meeting but chaired the meeting that approved it.”

Why was this important? During the week, Ní Raghallaigh said the board had no role in agreeing the package but would have in future. On Thursday, she admitted she had got that wrong and said the board had had a role in agreeing the package after it had been approved by its remuneration committee.

The Minister said it was news to her and the department that the RTÉ board would play any such role.

There was a fly in the ointment. In her resignation letter, and in a statement issued by the RTÉ board on Friday, there was a suggestion that the Department’s senior official was indeed aware that the exit package for Collins had been approved by the board.

In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, the board said: “The day after this meeting of the Remuneration Committee, October 10th 2023, Siún contacted the Secretary General of the Department Katherine Licken directly by telephone and updated her about the meeting of the Remuneration Committee, and its outcome – i.e., that it approved an agreement with Richard Collins.”

However, the Minister in her opening remarks, said that Licken (who has retired) recalled being told on the telephone that the independent mediation process on an exit package for Mr Collins had finally reached a conclusion.

Martin said that Licken had no recollection of being told that it was approved by the Board’s Remuneration Committee.

Her argument was consistent, under persistent and confrontational questioning, that the Department was not aware that the board had assumed such a decision-making role in October. She said if she had learned that, it would have been big news.

There is also a letter that was sent to the Department from the RTE board informing it that rules had changed for the remuneration committee in September. In the future, it said the remuneration committee would approve all issues in relation to executive pay and terms in future. This was a full month before the Collins exit package was agreed.

Martin responded that there was an annex to that letter and while it referred to pay and conditions, it made no reference to specific situations such as severance payments or exit packages.

She maintained that the Department’s view until this week was that the board had no role in such decisions. Indeed, she said the chair told her during the week that the board had no role but would have a role in the future.

As it happened, the board did indeed have a role in deciding the package. Siún Ní Raghallaigh had forgotten it had a role and she in fact chaired the very meeting that made the decision. Catherine Martin insisted the Department was never aware that the board had a role until Thursday of this week.

Martin has had unconvincing media performances when under pressure in the past. She was a little more steely if not altogether convincing on Friday.

There is no note of the telephone call between Ní Raghallaigh and Licken. So it will be difficult to reconcile the conflicting accounts of the Department and the RTÉ board on this crucial point. Nor is there any chance a line will be drawn under this ongoing maelstrom anytime soon.


Catherine Martin to meet RTÉ board ‘as soon as possible’ next week

The Minister said up until this week she had assumed the board had “no role whatsoever” in signing off on senior management exit packages.

Correspondence from RTÉ in September detailing an expanded scope for the board’s remuneration committee in signing off on executive pay did not reference any role it would have in approving exit packages, she told RTÉ's Six One News.

Earlier the Minister said as a result it had been her understanding last October that director general Kevin Bakhurst would have been the one to sign off on the exit packages, rather than the board.

Ms Martin said she also found out this week that the departure of RTÉ director of strategy Rory Coveney was not a straightforward resignation, but a situation where he had received a severance deal, believed to be worth about €200,000.

The Minister said other Coalition leaders “knew I was going on Prime Time” when asked if Government colleagues were briefed on what she planned to outline about her recent dealings with the former chair on television yesterday, where she repeatedly refused to express confidence in Ms Ní Raghallaigh.

“For me to act as Minister for Media, I must be in full possession of the facts. My direct line with RTÉ is through the chair who must keep me informed of the facts and unfortunately this week and on many occasions I was given inaccurate information,” she said.

Ms Martin said she was looking to meet with the RTÉ board next week and would seek to appoint a replacement for Ms Ní Raghallaigh “as soon as possible”.


In a fresh statement, the board of RTÉ has said it has requested a meeting with the Minister at “the earliest opportunity”.

“At the outset we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the former Chair, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, and to express our great disappointment and regret that she was placed in a position whereby she felt that she had no option but to resign,” it said. The statement said the former chair was a person of “utmost integrity”.

“In order to avoid any further disruption at this challenging time for RTÉ, the Board is committed to continuing to discharge its duties,” it said.

There had been concerns in some corners the widening rift between the board and the Minister over the circumstances that led to the resignation of Ms Ní Raghallaigh could lead to the remaining directors resigning in protest.

In its statement on Friday evening, the board said it believed it had a duty “to ensure stability” at the broadcaster, which was continuing to undertake reforms. “A secure funding model for RTÉ and public service media must remain our shared collective objective,” it said.

“The Board has requested a meeting with the Minister at the earliest opportunity,” the statement said.


In response to a question on what level of knowledge she had about Richard Collins’ exit package back in October, Ms Martin said: “I knew that there had been a highly complex independent mediation process, the issue was I didn’t know the board had a role in approving it”.

Ms Martin said the first time she learned there had been some level of board approval was in media reports last weekend, which indicated the chair had a role in approving exit payments.

She said she did believe if her department’s secretary general had been told of the remuneration committee’s role in the matter the official would have informed the Minister at the time.


A full statement from Catherine Martin has landed, read some of it below:

“On Thursday, Ms Ní Raghallaigh contacted the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and said that what she had told me on Monday and Wednesday was inaccurate.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh said that she now remembered that the Remuneration Committee of the RTÉ Board, which she chaired, had met to approve the Richard Collins exit package last October. The fact that she contacted the Department with this information indicates she was aware she needed to correct the record.

I am aware of suggestions that Ms Ní Raghallaigh had informed the former Secretary General of my Department that the Board had approved the exit package for Richard Collins.

I discussed this matter with the former Secretary General yesterday and today to check if this was the case. She has been clear that while she was informed by phone that the independent mediation process on an exit package for Mr Collins had finally reached a conclusion, she has no recollection of being told that it was approved by the Board’s Remuneration Committee.

I was deeply disappointed that the Chair had not given me accurate information when I raised it specifically on two occasions during the week.

I wrote to the Chair yesterday evening asking her for a meeting on Friday morning. I believed the failure to properly answer my questions was so serious that it required a formal meeting. I also conveyed the situation to the coalition leaders on Thursday evening in order to keep them fully informed.

Needless to say, it would have been my preference not to deal with this matter live on air. This was, however, a pre-arranged interview, and given how the situation had evolved yesterday and in the interests of transparency, I felt I had to address the matter”.


Catherine Martin has said the former secretary general of her department has “no recollection” of being told that the board sub-committee approved Mr Collins’ exit package.

Speaking to the media outside Government buildings, Ms Martin said the former senior official recalled being informed by phone that the mediation process with the former chief financial officer had concluded, but not that the board had a role in its approval. “She [Katherine Licken] was not informed that there was an official approval by the board,” she said.


The board said the chair had contacted the senior civil servant “directly by telephone and updated her about the meeting of the Remuneration Committee, and its outcome,” the day after the meeting. Ms Licken retired from the civil service last month.

Partially redacted minutes show the key remuneration committee meeting was attended by Ms Ní Raghallaigh, Kevin Bakhurst, board member Anne O’Leary, human resources director Eimear Cusack, former legal director Paula Mullooly, and two consultants from Arthur Cox.

The minutes, released by the board on Friday, stated the process with Mr Collins had concluded and “there had been considerable work done in the course of the day but this was the best position that could be reached”.

“The legal advice is to recommend the settlement as the best available option for RTÉ,” minutes of the October 9th meeting stated. The minutes stated Ms Ní Raghallaigh “would advise the department of the discussions”.

The broadcaster has previously said legal advice prevents it from releasing details of how much the former chief financial officer was paid in his severance deal.

The full board was informed of the outcome of the mediation process with Mr Collins at its next meeting, which was later that month on October 26th. Approval of the full board “was not required” to sign off on the exit package, the statement said.


RTÉ board to remain in place

It is understood the board of RTÉ is staying in place, and will not be resigning en masse as some had feared in the fallout of Siún Ní Raghallaigh stepping down as chair, after losing the confidence of Minister for Media Catherine Martin.

Board members met in Montrose this afternoon to discuss yesterday’s developments, with word now seeping out that the rest of the directors will be staying put.

A statement from the board is expected shortly.

Ms Martin is due to make a statement to the media and take questions shortly before 5pm.


The latest scandal engulfing RTÉ and Minister for Media Catherine Martin may be more cock-up than conspiracy, but it is scarcely less damaging for that. The latest episode of the Inside Politics podcast has just gone live. In it we ask: Is Catherine Martin in political danger? You can listen to it here.

Is Catherine Martin in political danger?

Listen | 39:44


Young Fine Gael calling for Minister Catherine Martin’s resignation


In a statement to RTÉ's News at One, Siún Ní Raghallaigh said she will be “concentrating on moving on, although I am very sad at this outcome not least for the staff, the organisation, my board colleagues and of course Kevin Bakhurst”.

media committee screen shots RTE

The chairwoman of the Oireachtas media committee, Niamh Smyth, has appealed to the other members of the RTÉ board to remain in situ, despite the “difficult” circumstances.

Fears have been cast that following the resignation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh as chairperson of the board, that other members of the board could follow suit. However, Ms Smyth said that is the “last thing” the broadcaster needs.

“I would appeal to them to support the DG [director general] in the work he is trying to do. As difficult as it is, please stick with it,” she told RTÉ'S News at One.

“The last thing RTÉ needs now is further resignations. If we could just work on that, and give it a chance to develop, I think really good things could happen for RTÉ into the future.”

Ms Smyth said does not believe Minister Catherine Martin fired Siún Ní Raghallaigh during her interview on Prime Time. The department officials have “questions to answer”, she said, and it is “really unfortunate to see Ms Ní Raghallaigh resign as it has “deepened the crisis for RTÉ”.

All of the information around exit packages should be made public to “help instil confidence”, she added.


RTÉ's director general Kevin Bakhurst has said no matter what events overtake headlines, he “remains absolutely focused” in securing the future of the broadcaster.

In a note to staff on Friday, Mr Bakhurst said his role is to “bring stability to the very regrettable chaos” that is engulfing RTÉ.

The news of Siún Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation was “understandably unsettling” for staff, he said, describing her as an “excellent chair” who provided “great support” to him.

“Siún believed in RTÉ, and its future, and she will be sorely missed,” he said.

“I want to reassure that I also believe in RTÉ and our collective future. My role, now more than ever, is to bring stability to the very regrettable chaos that continues to threaten all attempts to move forward.”

Mr Bakhurst said he and the interim leadership team “are intent on moving forward, with you”.

“We remain committed to RTÉ and to continuing to drive the necessary change to secure the future of this organisation.”

Mr Bakhurst said “no matter what events overtake the headlines in the short term”, he will remain “absolutely focused on our shared long-term mission to secure the future of RTÉ and public service broadcasting in Ireland”.


Our Cantillon column focuses on the latest developments in RTÉ.

Siún Ní Raghallaigh deserved better than this treatment from Catherine Martin

An incredible farce has reached delirious new depths. Minister for Media Catherine Martin has issued what Labour leader Ivana Bacik has rightly identified as “effectively a summary dismissal” of RTÉ chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh live on air.

Ní Raghallaigh’s admission that she unintentionally “neglected to recollect” that the RTÉ board’s remuneration committee approved a payout made to former chief financial officer Richard Collins – as per the correct process – should have been seen for what it was: a wobble in Martin’s “direct line of communication” with RTÉ, not an event that either represented or required a severing of it.

Instead, we have this act of self-sabotage on the part of Martin. Mere hours after Ní Raghallaigh confessed her mistake while reminding the Department that she appraised them of the matter last October, the Minister felt compelled to venture into the Prime Time studio, gravity etched on her face, to pointedly and repeatedly fail to express confidence in the RTÉ chairwoman.

Read the full column here


Current Affairs Editor Arthur Beesley reports:

In a new statement on Friday, RTÉ backed up Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s account by saying she had “in fact” told Ms Martin’s department about Mr Collins’ departure the day after the deal was signed off.

“The chair had in fact informed the Department about the process which led to Richard Collin’s departure from RTÉ on October 10th, the day after it was approved at the Remuneration Committee which has delegated powers from the board,” RTÉ said.

“This detail was taken as read although it seems now that it shouldn’t have been.”

The statement continued: “After checking the minutes of the remuneration committee, the chair moved swiftly to correct this detail with department officials on Thursday, and remind them that the correct process had been followed, and that the chair had previously informed the department of same.”

The statement was issued after RTÉ was asked questions raised by Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon after Ms Martin said Ní Raghallaigh “misinformed” her at meetings this week by not saying Mr Collins’ deal went through the RTÉ board.

Mr Dillon asked: “Was anyone else present when the RTÉ chair misled the Minister this week? Was the director general Kevin Bakhurst in the room?”

RTÉ said: “The director general and the former chair met the Minister for over three hours this week. A large volume of issues were addressed and discussed, and within that context some confusion arose regarding a question from the Minister to the chair about the approval by the RTÉ board of the exit of former CFO Richard Collins.”


Like members of the Labour Party, Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín has called for Minister Catherine Martin’s resignation.


Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy is the latest politician to wade in on the developments at the broadcaster, stating the situation in RTÉ has been “an utter shambles for seven months”.

“We were promised a new era of transparency and openness in how RTÉ does its business and spends taxpayers money, but the Government have done nothing to ensure this is the case,” he said in a statement.

“RTÉ should be brought back under the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General; as was the case for many, many years; and which we in Sinn Féin have repeatedly called for. This would also have the effect of ensuring the Public Accounts Committee can provide adequate oversight of its finances. We must see that happen now without delay.”


Arthur Beesley reports:

The crisis at RTÉ is set for another twist on Friday after board members were called to an emergency meeting, hours after Siún Ní Raghallaigh’s abrupt resignation.

The board is understood to be preparing to meet this afternoon in an undisclosed location to discuss recent events. There is no deputy chair at present after the recent ending of the board term of previous deputy chair Ian Kehoe.

The meeting on Friday comes amid waning Government confidence in the leadership of the national broadcaster, after Minister for Media Catherine Martin said she was “misinformed” by Ní Raghallaigh about a severance deal with former chief financial officer Richard Collins.

Government ministers are annoyed with RTÉ for failing to set out how much it paid Mr Collins and former strategy director Rory Coveney when they left last year.

RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst has cited legal constraints but Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris told RTÉ radio on Friday that the organisation needs to change now.

“We do not need a lecture in the law from RTÉ, thank you very much, we are legislators. We actually need RTÉ to focus not on what it cannot provide to be more transparent but on what it can provide,” Mr Harris said.


Asked if Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has confidence in his party colleague Minister Catherine Martin, a spokeswoman said “of course he does”.

“She has been determined to transform RTÉ and public service broadcasting and has made significant progress in doing so,” the spokeswoman said.

“She has set up two in depth expert reports on how RTÉ operates and is determined to agree a new funding model for RTÉ which will put public service broadcasting in Ireland on a sustainable position into the future.”


Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne has said he is “not overly happy with the way this has been handled” and he does not think Minister Catherine Martin should have done the interview in advance of the scheduled meeting with Siún Ní Raghallaigh.

“We need to see the full accounts of engagements between Siún Ní Raghallaigh and the Minister and any Department officials. I would have preferred any decisions to have been made following discussions between the Minister and the Chair,” he said.

“If it does transpire that the Department was aware of the process surrounding Richard Collins’ exit package, this brings the Department into this dispute.”

Mr Byrne said he believes director general Kevin Bakhurst is doing an “honest job trying to reform the organisation”.

“There is an urgency now to recognise and support the importance of that work. That does not take away the need for accountability and transparency but we also need to know that we will have an RTÉ at the end of all this (which, frankly, I had hoped would have happened by now),” he said.


Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris has rejected assertions that Minister for Media Catherine Martin’s position is untenable in light of Siún Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation.

“I think Catherine Martin was in a very difficult position. What the Minister did last night was answer an honest question. I think it is really regrettable that what the Minister would have liked to happen, didn’t happen,” Mr Harris said on Today with Claire Byrne, referring to convening the scheduled meeting with Ms Ní Raghallaigh on Friday morning.

“I’m aware the Minister intends to speak today. Minister Martin intends to provide that clarity today. It’s not a small matter if the minister was misinformed twice. If I was a Government minister in that position, I too would be frustrated.”

He added: “I believe Catherine Martin is a good Minister. I believe some of the glib commentary from the opposition is very unfair.”

Mr Harris said the RTÉ story has become a “carousel” and there needs to be a “degree of urgency” in clarifying issues immediately so the news cycle can move on.


Media Minister Catherine Martin has serious questions to answer about her own handling of the crisis in RTÉ, the leader of the Social Democrats Holly Cairns has said.

Ms Cairns said if the minister was kept in the dark about exit packages with senior executives last year, then she “didn’t ask the right questions when these resignations were announced”.

“There is a further point that the Minister must urgently clarify. In her resignation statement, the former Chair of the RTÉ board, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, said she informed the Department of the process involved in the resignation of Richard Collins the day after he left the organisation,” she said.

“Are we to understand from this that the Department was, in fact, aware that there had been an exit package and that it had been approved by the Chair? If so, was the Minister informed and, if not, why not?”


RTÉ's director general Kevin Bakhurst sent a note to staff at the broadcaster on Friday morning, to inform them of the resignation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh.

Here is his note in full:

“It is with deep regret that I share with you the announcement by Siún Ní Raghallaigh of her decision to resign as the Chair of the Board of RTÉ tonight. Her statement is included below.

Siún has been an excellent Chair and a great support to me throughout an incredibly challenging time for RTÉ.

Without Siún’s experience, insight, guidance and optimism, beginning the process of meaningfully transforming RTÉ would have been a bigger challenge. Her integrity, hard work, commitment to public service and her appreciation of the important work you all do in serving audiences, despite many challenges, made her a valuable ally.

Siún believed in RTÉ and its future and she will be sorely missed.

I’d like to reassure you, our partners and our audiences that I and my Interim Leadership Team remain committed to RTÉ and to continuing to drive the necessary change to secure the future of this organisation and transform it into a national public service media organisation we can all be proud of.”


Here is Siún Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation statement in full:

“I applied for the role of Chair of RTÉ because I believe strongly in the importance of public service media.

Since taking up the role of Chair of the RTÉ Board in December 2022, I have worked hard with my board colleagues, and the leadership team. Our priority at all times has been on reforming the organisation, in order to secure its future.

However, it is abundantly clear from statements today, and in particular last night’s Prime Time broadcast, that I no longer have the confidence of the Minister in my role as Chair of the Board of RTÉ and that, as such, my position is no longer tenable.

This evening, after consultation with the Board and Director General Kevin Bakhurst, I have decided to resign from my position.

I would like to thank my fellow board members and RTÉ ‘s leadership team for their hard work in recent months. I would also like to thank the staff of RTÉ for their dedication and commitment throughout this challenging time for the organisation.

Since he started in his role on Monday 10th July 2023, the Director General has always kept me appropriately informed as he restructured the Executive and established the Interim Leadership Team.

Under the new terms of reference of the remuneration committee of the RTÉ Board, all changes to executive pay and terms must be approved by committee. This was introduced as part of a wide range of measures to strengthen controls and fully restore public trust in corporate governance at RTÉ.

Kevin Bakhurst brought the exit of Rory Coveney from RTÉ (announced on Sunday 9th July) to my attention, while the exit of Richard Collins was brought to and approved by the Remuneration Committee of the Board of RTÉ on October 9th 2023.

I informed the Department about the process which led to Richard’s departure from RTÉ, on October 10th, the day after it was approved at the Remuneration Committee.

I met the Minister and her officials, with the Director General, on two occasions for more than three hours this week, dealing with multiple questions across a wide range of issues. I was asked if the board knew about the exit packages for Rory Coveney and Richard Collins.

I said that I was aware of them, but they had not come before the full board. However, I neglected to recollect that Richard Collin’s exit package did go before the remuneration committee. This was not an intentional misrepresentation, and I subsequently contacted the Department to clarify the details and remind them that I had previously appraised them of the matter in October.

Serving as Chair of the RTÉ Board is a privilege which requires the confidence of the Minister. It is abundantly clear that I no longer do. My resignation is a source of sadness to me, but it is unavoidable.

There is a very urgent need for the funding model of RTÉ to be restored and for the transformation process to continue apace. I do not want this matter to distract from that. That must remain our unswerving collective objective.”


The Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Brian Stanley has criticised Minister Catherine Martin, stating she “effectively sacked” the Chair of the RTÉ Board on television on Thursday night.

The Sinn Féin TD said Ms Martin should have “kept her powder dry” until she met Siún Ní Raghallaigh on Friday

“I think whether the minister has confidence or not, I think she should have kept her powder try until she met Siún Ní Raghallaigh today ... thrashed it out with her and then if she felt she had to dismiss Siún Ní Raghallaigh from the position of the Chair of the RTÉ Board she could have done so after that,” he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland


Labour Senator Marie Sherlock, the party’s spokeswoman on media, has said Minister Catherine Martin’s position is “untenable” in light of the resignation of the RTÉ board’s chairwoman.

“Ní Raghallaigh’s statement suggests that the Department has a written record of notification from the Board following the remuneration committee’s approval of exit packages. This must be published in full immediately,” she said.

“The Media Minister is the protector of RTÉ but crucially, the Minister should be the protector of the public purse. The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste must now reflect on the Media Minister’s handling of this whole debacle, and ask, is she the person to ensure that necessary reforms take place in RTÉ that will be crucial to its survival, and is she the person who can restore public trust in the State broadcaster?”


Séamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said the resignation of the chairwoman of RTÉ and the circumstances surrounding her departure will “be a further blow to the morale of staff. The last thing needed in RTÉ is another crisis”.

“The Government must act immediately to appoint a new Chair to avoid a period of further uncertainty. In my dealings with Siún Ní Raghallaigh, I I found her to be a person of integrity, collaborative, sensitive to the concerns of staff and committed to public service,” he said.

“The NUJ has consistently demanded full transparency in relation to all aspects of executive remuneration and it behoves the Government to ensure that this is delivered. The ongoing failure of successive governments to reform the funding of public service broadcasting in Ireland has contributed to the crisis in RTÉ.”

He added: “The latest developments should not distract from this priority.”


Minister for Media Catherine Martin has issued a new statement on Friday morning, acknowledging the resignation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh as chairwoman of the RTÉ Board.

“I wish to thank Siún Ní Raghallaigh for her service as chair of the Board of RTÉ at a time of unprecedented crisis at the national broadcaster,” she said.

“Her contribution to the process of reform and transformation under way in the organisation has been hugely significant; and her hard work and commitment to public service broadcasting must be acknowledged.”

Ms Martin said it is a critical time for RTÉ, and it is “imperative that we continue the important process of restoring trust in the organisation”.

“As Ms Ní Raghallaigh stated, there is an urgent need for the transformation process to continue and a sustainable funding model put in place – I am deeply committed to this.”


The emergence of a political crisis: Snap analysis from our Political Correspondent Jack Horgan Jones

The dramatic resignation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh overnight has now shifted the focus to Minister for Arts and Media Catherine Martin and her Department. It is now a classic of the political genre: who knew what and when?

This is one of the most dangerous games for politicians.

In a bombshell appearance on RTÉ’s Prime Time show on Thursday night, Ms Martin said the RTÉ chair had misinformed her twice this week regarding board knowledge of exit packages for departing executives. It turns out this was not the case, she said, and the remuneration committee of the board approved the exit package for Richard Collins.

She failed to express confidence in Ní Raghaillaigh, saying she was deeply disappointed.

The writing was on the wall then, with senior sources last night already firmly of the view that the RTÉ chair could not remain in place. One of the key functions of a chair is to act as a conduit to the Minister, and it seemed that the RTÉ chair had equipped Ms Martin with inaccurate information, fracturing trust and ultimately making her position untenable. And so it proved, with Siún Ní Raghallaigh resigning in the early hours of the morning.

But now the opposition is already laser-focused on Catherine Martin, with the Labour Party saying it was a “summary dismissal on air”. A key issue is a line in Ní Raghaillaigh’s resignation statement in which she claims to have told the Department of the process that led to Collins’ departure the day after he left. This suggests that some knowledge did exist in the Department about the board approval, prompting serious questions for the Department and Martin.

Why wasn’t she told? Why didn’t she ask? Was there a note of this disclosure and will it now be released? There are questions too for Kevin Bakhurst, who seemingly was in one of the meetings where Martin was misinformed this week. Did he know the information being passed on was incorrect? Did he raise it then or afterwards?

Over the months of this crisis, an impression has taken hold that Catherine Martin has not put her stamp on the controversy or asserted sufficient political authority. That is the immediate context for this crisis as the focus shifts from the RTÉ boardroom to the department and the minister.

There is a clear view among some in Government this morning: a political crisis is emerging.

Read Jack’s full analysis here


Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the drip-feed of information surrounding RTÉ's finances and governance makes it “very difficult” to have confidence in the broadcaster.

However, Ms McEntee rejected claims that the interview by Minister for Media Catherine Martin amounted to a dismissal.

“What she [Minister Catherine Martin] did last night was simply outline the facts. She said very clearly she needed and wanted to speak to Siún Ní Raghallaigh. She did not dismiss her,” she told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

“The difficulty here is all of us want to have confidence in RTÉ, we want to have confidence in those who are managing it, we want to move forward. Unfortunately, when we continue to have information coming out in the way that it is on a number of different issues, it is very difficult for people to have confidence. Of course, this will add to the challenges that RTÉ is facing now.”


Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the Minister’s comments amounted to a “summary dismissal on air”.

Speaking on Newstalk on Friday morning, she said: “It was rather shocking to see what amounted to summary dismissal on air by the minister last night.”

“I think the minister now has questions to answer about why she moved in the way she did in this rather peremptory manner, why she didn’t ask questions before?” Deputy Bacik added.

“Is this a rather belated calling for heads and what purpose does this achieve? Will it be possible indeed to find a new Chairperson for the Board? Still there is so much we don’t know and so much lack of clarity.”