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RTÉ DG accused of ‘stonewalling’ over exit pay details

RTÉ Director General Kevin Bakhurst has been accused of “stonewalling” over revealing the details of exit packages for senior RTÉ executives.

Mr Bakhurst said yesterday that he expects to have new legal advice “in the next couple of days” regarding the publication of details on the exit packages, adding that RTÉ has to “respect the law”.

Speaking on RTÉ Drivetime yesterday, Mr Bakhurst said it was disclosed at the time, in July 2023, that the then RTÉ director of strategy Rory Coveney received an exit package when leaving the organisation.

He said he also stated to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee last year that he could not talk about individuals and that remains the legal advice.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said politicians are not asking Mr Bakhurst to break the law, but said he is “stonewalling” in saying he cannot divulge the information.

Mr O’Sullivan, who is also a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Media, said he wants the RTÉ Director General to stop hiding behind “this veil of legal advice” in not sharing the information.

Christopher O’Sullivan said transparency is needed on the issue of exit packages

He called for more transparency, adding that the committee needs to “find out whether there are protections that can be offered to him within Dáil privilege”.

Mr O’Sullivan said that exit packages are a “tried and tested way” for people to leave an organisation, but “it’s the confidentiality clause, I think that’s causing most of the issue”.

“It’s amazing to me that in this instance when you’re trying to agree an exit package, that they hold all the cards, not just in terms of the amount that they get, but also in terms of secrecy and non-disclosure.”

Mr O’Sullivan said that despite previous committee hearings being told that due process was circumvented in relation to Toy Show The Musical “there seems to be no consequences”.

He said he would be surprised if forthcoming investigations into RTÉ on culture and governance and in terms of how contract workers were treated do not produce more information “because that’s been the nature of this whole saga from start to finish”.

Mr Bakhurst and Chair of the RTÉ Board Siún Ní Raghallaigh met Minister for Media Catherine Martin yesterday, where the minister said she told the DG of her “concern and frustration” at the ongoing row regarding exit packages at the broadcaster.

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