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Martin to face questions about ex-RTÉ chair’s resignation

Minister for Media Catherine Martin will this evening face questions at an Oireachtas committee about her handling of events that led to the resignation of Siún Ní Raghallaigh as chair of the RTÉ Board.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh resigned in the early hours of Friday morning after the minister failed to express confidence in her during an interview on Prime Time.

The Oireachtas Committee on Media will hold a special three-hour session this evening to examine the controversy.

Ms Martin has said she was given incorrect information last week when she asked by the then-chair of the RTÉ Board if the exit payment for former chief financial officer Richard Collins had got board approval.

However, Ms Ní Raghallaigh did clarify the matter last Thursday morning, and she had also informed the former secretary general of the Department of Media about the “process” as far back as last October.

RTÉ has remained adamant that it was simply a case of some confusion arising from a question from the minister to the Chair about the approval by the RTÉ Board of Mr Collins’ exit.

“Kevin Bakhurst discussed this with the chair after the meeting and after checking the minutes of the Remuneration Committee, the chair moved swiftly to correct this detail with department officials on Thursday, and remind them that the correct process had been followed, and that the chair had previously informed the department of same,” RTÉ said.

However, the Taoiseach reiterated his confidence in Ms Martin.

Leo Varadkar said: “I think she was probably in a no-win situation. She felt that she couldn’t fully rely on the information being given to her by the former chairperson of the board.

“I know, as a minister who has been in many departments, if you find yourself in a place where you’re just not fully confident that you’re getting full and accurate information from a chairperson, that makes it very difficult.”

The Taoiseach challenged the accusations that Ms Martin mishandled the situation.

“I don’t think that’s fair. Certainly the problems that exist in RTÉ are not Minister Martin’s making by any means.

“And she’s been working very hard over the past year to put things right. We do need to put things right because RTÉ is a really important institution, in my view,” he said.

Former Secretary General at the Department of Media Katherine Licken is not due to attend the Committee hearing.

In a letter to the Media Committee Catherine Martin’s private secretary said it would not be appropriate for Ms Licken to attend as part of the Department delegation as she is no longer a member of staff.

They added that as a former officer holder she would not have any standing to report to the committee “in relation to the agenda set out in the committee’s letter.”

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