Catherine Martin willing to give statements to Dáil on recent RTÉ developments

Minister for Media will also appear before Oireachtas Media Committee on Tuesday

Minister for Media Catherine Martin is willing to come before the Dáil to give statements on recent developments at RTÉ, the Government has said.

Sinn Féin has also said it has written to the Ceann Comhairle asking for Ms Martin to come before the chamber to answer questions.

Speaking on RTE’s The Week in Politics on Sunday, Minister of State Jack Chambers said Minister Martin was willing to give statements before the Dáil, while would also appear before the Oireachtas Media Committee on Tuesday over three hours to answer questions.

Ms Martin accused the chairwoman of RTÉ's board Siún Ní Raghallaigh of providing misleading information about a confidential severance payment to former chief financial officer Richard Collins.


The Minister’s intervention in a live interview on RTÉ's Prime Time programme on Thursday night led Ní Raghallaigh to resign within three hours, saying in a statement shortly before 1am on Friday that her position was not tenable.

Mr Chambers said Ms Martin had been focused on having transparency while there had been accountability to date.

“It [Prime Time] was a pre-arranged interview, she was asked questions, she gave the honest and updated information to the public relating to what had happened over the recent hours and she had been planning to meet the chair the following day,” he said.

The junior minister said the chair of the board was the direct statutory connection between the Minister, the Government and RTÉ and “when a minister requests and repeatedly asks a chair multiple questions and that isn’t provided for, clearly the Minister will be disappointed”.

Mr Chambers said in the context of the “poly crisis” seen in RTÉ over the last number of months, it had made decisions around a new funding model for public service broadcasting “more difficult for everybody involved”.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said people’s faith in RTÉ had been “rocked to its foundations” because of all of the financial scandals seen over the course of the last year.

“It has been compounded by what people have seen over the course of the last number of days,” he said.

“There is a lack of accountability. There is a lack of transparency, and in my view, there is a lack of confidence from the public in relation to how this Minister and the Government have handled this issue.”

Mr Cullinane said the Minister needed to come before the Dáil to answer questions and the party’s chief whip had written to the Ceann Comhairle asking for that to happen.

Fianna Fáil senator Malcolm Byrne said he was “rather concerned” about the Minister appearing on Prime Time and it wasn’t right “for the Minister to go and effectively sack the chair of RTÉ on the programme”.

Mr Byrne said there seemed to be confusion over who knew what and when and that should have been solved “not in the public glare”.

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall said Catherine Martin had taken a “hands off approach” to RTÉ for “her entire term of office now, for four years”.

“It’s as if she’s not really engaged in it, she’s leaving it to Dáil committees to sort out problems with RTÉ,” she said.

Ms Shortall said at a point last week, when it “looked like the ship was being steadied – Catherine Martin came along and threw in a grenade”.

“That has again reignited massive uncertainty and huge demoralisation for staff. That’s just not on, she has a lot to answer for.”

The Dublin North-West TD also said the Minister had “an arm’s length engagement” and she and the Government needed to take charge of the situation in RTÉ and described the Prime Time interview as “really ill-judged” and had caused “serious problems”.

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Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times