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Home / News / Conclusion to current RTÉ saga looks as elusive as ever

Conclusion to current RTÉ saga looks as elusive as ever

Long before the arrival of RTÉ a particular brand of storytelling was woven deep into Irish culture.

Back then we are told people went “ag bothánaíocht” – going from house to house to hear the best stories.

The finest story tellers could sustain a yarn for lengthy periods even when the conclusion looked to be within view several times.

Unwittingly the current RTÉ saga has borrowed liberally from this tradition and a conclusion to this story looks as elusive as ever.

There remains a gushing stream of troubling questions about it all this lunchtime.

These stem primarily from the events of last year and bring to mind William Faulkner’s line that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

It is not clear why the Minister for Media did not know about the role the RTÉ Board played in the financial settlement for former chief financial officer Richard Collins given that Siún Ní Raghallaigh told the Department of the process last October.

Siún Ní Raghallaigh announced her resignation in the early hours of this morning

Why did the minister not call Siún Ní Raghallaigh on the phone yesterday to get clarity on this issue instead of making her strong views known on Prime Time?

Was the minister called a number of times by Siún Ní Raghallaigh yesterday and were those calls not answered by Catherine Martin? On this question a spokesperson for the minister said she has checked her phone and she has no record of any calls.

Equally pertinent is the question as to how the minister left a meeting this week with the Chair of the RTÉ Board and the Director General Kevin Bakhurst under the impression that Richard Collins’ exit package did not get the green light from the Board?

Kevin Bakhurst offered the following explanation this morning saying “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.”

“The Chair had in fact informed the Department about the process which led to Richard Collins’ departure from RTÉ on 10 October, the day after it was approved at the Remuneration Committee which has delegated powers from the Board. This detail was taken as read although it seems now that it shouldn’t have been,” he said.

The wording is quite diplomatic, but the central point is contentious.

RTÉ bosses essentially believed the Minister for Media knew about all this but Catherine Martin contends that she was misinformed by Siún Ní Raghallaigh this week.

This set in train an extraordinary appearance by the minister on Prime Time which the Labour Party believes amounted to the summary dismissal of Siún Ní Raghallaigh.

Ivana Bacik said this now makes the minister’s position untenable.

However, the Government party leaders are firmly backing Ms Martin and moves are afoot already apparently to quickly appoint a new Board Chair.

Later today Catherine Martin will answer media questions but do not expect the curtain to fall on this controversy just yet.

Read more:
RTÉ Board to meet following Ní Raghallaigh resignation
Ní Raghallaigh tenure dominated by RTÉ controversies

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