Dee Forbes given chance to submit written account of her role in RTÉ scandals

Former director general has been unable to attend previous Oireachtas committee hearings due to ill health

Former RTÉ director general Dee Forbes is set to be given a chance by an Oireachtas committee to submit a written account of her role in the payments scandal that has enveloped the broadcaster.

Ms Forbes, who was one of the first executives to depart the station last summer as news of undisclosed payments to star broadcaster Ryan Tubridy approved by her rocked RTÉ, has been unable to attend any committee hearings due to ill health.

But now the Oireachtas media committee is set to make another attempt to elicit Ms Forbes’ side of the story, which would break the silence from one of the central figures in the RTÉ saga.

Director of content Jim Jennings, who has also been unable to attend any committee sessions because of health issues, is due to be given the same chance.


Both will be invited to appear either in person or remotely, but committee chair Niamh Smyth said that they will also be told they can submit written responses to questions currently being drafted by the committee.

“We have taken legal advice at the committee in terms of those who are unwell and unfit to present at committee and we have the opportunity of writing to people such as Dee Forbes and Jim Jennings who haven’t been able to present,” committee chair Niamh Smyth said on Wednesday.

She said that members will want to ask “very particular questions trying to elicit very specific answers”, and that due time would be given to preparing questions for the two executives.

Malcolm Byrne, Fianna Fáil senator and a member of the media committee, said: “The committee is to consider seeking written submissions from those who haven’t been in a position to attend, including Dee Forbes.”

“I appreciate illness may preclude a response but for us to fully complete the jigsaw as to what happened in RTÉ, we need to see the missing pieces,” he said. The committee is also expected to seek full documentation including notes of meetings between politicians, civil servants and former RTÉ chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh, whose resignation last week added another layer of controversy to the ongoing saga.

Minister for Media Catherine Martin indicated to the media committee on Tuesday that she would be open to sharing all documents as part of a transparency effort. Ms Martin is also to meet with the board of RTÉ, which is said to be furious about the manner of Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation, later this week – likely on Friday.

On Wednesday, Ms Martin told the Dáil that public trust in RTÉ needs to be restored before a new funding model for public service broadcasting can be considered by the Government. She said that the Government was committed to reforming the current funding system during its term in office and she was “more determined than ever to see this happen”.

On Tuesday, Ms Martin told the Oireachtas media committee that Ms Ní Raghallaigh warned she could resign before a crucial appearance by the Minister on RTÉ Prime Time last week, and resisted attempts to arrange a meeting to discuss Ms Martin’s disappointment in her.

Asked on Wednesday about Ms Martin’s remarks in the Dáil and the media committee, a spokeswoman for Ms Ní Raghallaigh said “she has nothing to say at this time”.

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Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

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

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times