Siún Ní Raghallaigh resigns as chair of RTÉ board after Minister says she had been ‘misinformed’

Catherine Martin said it emerged that board approved exit package for Richard Collins despite initial denial

Siún Ní Raghallaigh, the chair of the board of RTÉ, has announced she is stepping down from her position.

In a statement released just before 1am on Friday morning, Ms Ní Raghallaigh said it was “abundantly clear” she no longer had the confidence of Minister for Media Catherine Martin. “My resignation is a source of sadness to me, but it is unavoidable,” she said.

On Thursday night, the Minister said she was “misinformed” by the chair of the RTÉ board when Ms Ní Raghallaigh provided assurances the 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.


In the statement released in the early hours of Friday morning, Ms Ní Raghallaigh said that in discussions with Ms Martin this week she had said she was aware of the exit packages of former director of strategy Rory Coveney and Mr 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 Collins’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.”

Ms Ní Raghallaigh said the director general Kevin Bakhurst had brought the exit package of Mr Coveney to her attention, while the exit package of Mr 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,” she said. “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.”

Ms Ní Raghallaigh said her priority since starting in the role as chair had always been to lead reforms of RTÉ. “However, it is abundantly clear from statements today, and in particular last night’s Primetime 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.”

In a dramatic development on Thursday in the ongoing controversy around RTÉ exit packages, Ms Martin twice declined to express confidence in Ms Ní Raghallaigh, saying she wished to afford her an opportunity to explain why she was given incorrect information at a meeting scheduled for Friday morning. The Minister did, however, express confidence in Mr Bakhurst.

The Minister said on two occasions in recent days she had received assurances that the board had no role in the approval of recent exit packages for senior RTÉ executives.

“However, this morning, in communications through my officials, it has been made known to me now that in the second exit package, that of Richard Collins, it went before the remuneration committee, so there was a process there where the board had approval,” she said on Thursday night on RTÉ Prime Time. “I am deeply disappointed by this and I have written to the chair this evening and I’ve asked to meet her tomorrow to discuss this.”

Ms Martin said she sought confirmation that the board had no role in approving exit packages during a meeting with the chair on Monday and was told that was correct. The Green Party TD said she was “again assured” during a second meeting with Ms Ní Raghallaigh on Wednesday that the board had no role in the matter.

Ms Martin said she had sought a fresh meeting on Friday morning to ask “how could I be misinformed on these two occasions?” The minister said “I have asked to meet her to express my disappointment.”

In a note to the staff of RTÉ on Friday morning, Mr Bakhurst said Ms Ní Raghallaigh “has been an excellent Chair” and “will be sorely missed”.

“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,” Mr Bakhurst said.

Late on Thursday evening there was shock at Cabinet level over the revelations. There was also anger, with one Minister saying the whole “saga is a shambles” and that RTÉ's reputation was “hanging by a thread”.

Labour Party spokesperson on media Marie Sherlock said she was “bewildered by the latest twist in the RTÉ saga” which she said “reflects badly on both Minister Martin and the chair”.

Brian Stanley, the PAC chairman and Sinn Féin TD said this was again a situation where the minister has been misinformed. “This is a most serious and grave matter,” he said on Virgin TV.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh took over as chair of the broadcaster’s board from Moya Doherty in late November 2022.

RTÉ has been battling a major governance and financial scandal since the middle of last year, which first erupted following revelations of undisclosed payments made to former Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy.

In the last week the broadcaster has been under scrutiny over exit payments made to senior executives, such as former director of strategy Rory Coveney and Mr Collins.

Mr Coveney, who was one of the senior figures behind the controversial Toy Show the Musical flop, reportedly received a payout of about €200,000 when he resigned last July.

RTÉ has said Mr Collins departed “by mutual agreement” after months of independent mediation, but that it cannot disclose further details of the exit deal as it was subject to “a binding confidentiality clause that was agreed to by both sides”.

Earlier, Mr Bakhurst said RTÉ has written to former senior management who left the broadcaster asking them to waive their right to confidentiality over the circumstances of their exit.

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Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times