Dee Forbes ‘not fit or able’ to take questions on RTÉ controversy

Oireachtas committee told in letter that former head of RTÉ remains under ‘active medical care’

Former director general of RTÉ Dee Forbes is “not fit or able” to respond to any questions from politicians on her role in several controversies at the broadcaster, according to correspondence from her lawyers to the Oireachtas media committee.

Ms Forbes has repeatedly rebuffed requests to appear before Oireachtas committee hearings examining the financial and governance scandal that has engulfed RTÉ.

Last June Ms Forbes resigned in the days after the controversy facing RTÉ first erupted, following revelations of undisclosed payments made to former Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy.

In a fresh letter to the Oireachtas media committee, lawyers for Ms Forbes said she was “unfit to be involved in any process”. The March 8th letter was sent in response to correspondence from the committee last month, where it said it could facilitate “reasonable supports” to assist the former head of RTÉ providing information.


“We confirm that on foot of your letter we have sought instructions from our client and we are instructed that our client is not fit or able to undertake or be involved in any processes,” Ms Forbes’s lawyers stated.

“We are instructed that our client is unfit to be involved in any process even with the offer of video-links/breaks/written evidence etc and that our client remains under active medical care,” it said.

The letter, from Byrne Wallace law firm, stated the committee had previously been provided with information about Ms Forbes’s medical state.

“Further medical information, to confirm our client’s medical position that she is unfit to participate in any processes at this time can be provided with the requirement that it is kept confidential,” it said. “If you require sight of further medical information on a strictly confidential basis please let us know,” the lawyers wrote.

Ms Forbes had served as director general of RTÉ from 2016 until the middle of last year. She had been due to be replaced by Kevin Bakhurst but resigned several weeks early, at the outset of the Tubridy payments controversy. Her resignation followed a request from then-chair of the RTÉ board Siún Ní Raghallaigh that Ms Forbes step down.

Ms Forbes was one of the senior executives involved in the production of RTÉ's Toy Show the Musical, which made a loss of more than €2.2 million.

The former director general had also been the one who approved a controversial exit package of €450,000 for former chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe. A report examining the deal found Ms Forbes had signed off on the agreement, instead of the RTÉ senior management team as was required. Ms Forbes was not available to be interviewed by the authors of the independent report on Toy Show the Musical or the voluntary exit scheme.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times