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Home / News / Ex-RTÉ CFO O’Keeffe paid €450k under exit deal, says DG

Ex-RTÉ CFO O’Keeffe paid €450k under exit deal, says DG

Former RTÉ chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe was paid €450,000 when she left the organisation, Director General Kevin Bakhurst has confirmed.

Mr Bakhurst told the Oireachtas Committee on Media that he and “many people” within the broadcaster had no knowledge that Ms O’Keeffe had taken a voluntary exit package “until she said it in one of the committees”.

Director of Human Resources Eimear Cusack said it was the only package of that size.

Ms O’Keeffe told the committee last July that she had availed of a redundancy deal. She left RTÉ in March 2020 and was replaced by Richard Collins.

A review by legal firm McCann FitzGerald found that her application was not considered and approved by the broadcaster’s executive board as was required under the rules of the 2017 Voluntary Exit Programme.

It said that Ms O’Keeffe made a business case for her departure that was discussed between her and former director general Dee Forbes.

The review accepted that the failure to comply with the terms of the scheme rested solely with the broadcaster and not with Ms O’Keeffe.

At the committee hearing, Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon asked Mr Bakhurst if Ms Cusack had informed him of the package.

Mr Bakhurst said that once he heard about it, he asked Ms Cusack, who gave him the information.

The cost of the package is “confidential”, he said, but Mr Dillon responded that it was in the public interest to disclose the figure.

Mr Bakhurst said that “Breda O’Keeffe was paid €450,000 to leave”.

He also said that the finance department in RTÉ was restructured around the time of her departure and at least two people left leading to some savings.

However, he said that the proper process was not followed and should have been.

Ms O’Keeffe was asked to attend today’s hearing, but she told the committee that she was unavailable.

Robust exchanges over exit package

Ms Cusack insisted that she “did not conceal anything” and “processed something under instruction” when she signed off on Ms O’Keeffe’s departure.

“I should have pushed back further,” Ms Cusack said, adding that RTÉ will bear the cost of tax liabilities arising from voluntary exit payments.

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster noted the confidential arrangement between Ms O’Keeffe and Ms Forbes on the exit package and Ms Cusack admitted that such agreements were not normal.

“I had no reason not to trust her [Ms Forbes],” Ms Cusack said. “I was only in the organisation a short time”.

Deputy Munster said that even though Ms Cusack knew that “the rules had been broken”, she “still went ahead and implemented that” arrangement.

“You as head of HR didn’t flag it up with management.”

“The assurance that I was given was that the cost savings would be achieved, and I had no reason not to believe that,” Ms Cusack insisted.

“Don’t play with words,” Ms Munster said. “You knew what you were being asked to sign off on wasn’t correct – but you did it.”

“I signed off on an instruction,” Ms Cusack replied.

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