Staff at RTÉ ‘outraged’ after latest report

Staff in RTÉ are disturbed and outraged after the report into RTÉ’s voluntary exit programmes, the chair of the National Union of Journalists Dublin Broadcasting Branch has said.

Emma O Kelly said it was yet another glimpse of the parallel world that exists in RTÉ.

“We are throwing our hands up once again and asking what kind of an organisation we are working for”, she said, particularly as it comes during a staffing review when staff are feeling really vulnerable.

The report by a legal firm appointed by the broadcaster to conduct a review of voluntary exit packages found that ten departures did not satisfy the requirements of a redundancy within the meaning of the Redundancy Payments Acts.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland,,Ms O Kelly said: “People [are] being moved around and there’s a big staffing review that a lot of people have pinned their hopes due. But in the midst of all this people have no confidence that they will be treated fairly by senior management or by HR. There’s no trust and more often not, there is an assumption by people in RTÉ is that you won’t be treated fairly.

She added that staff do not feel like this kind of treatment is in the past.

Speaking on the same programme, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee said the ongoing issues around RTÉ need to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Brian Stanley said committee wants to hear from RTÉ’s former chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe, as well as HR Director Eimear Cusack.

The report by legal firm McCann Fitzgerald found that Ms O’Keeffe’s exit package was not considered and approved by the RTÉ Executive Board as was required under the rules of the 2017 Voluntary Exit Programme.

Mr Stanley said the public sector broadcaster holds other people to account but at the same time has been engaging in sweetheart deals, abuse of power, false accountancy and appalling corporate governance practices.

He said the PAC wants deal with the issue as soon as possible, issue a report and “move to the end of the line.”

Earlier, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said yesterday’s report shows another egregious breach of trust between RTÉ and the public and between RTÉ and its staff.

The minister said the Government would try and agree future funding by the summer.

However, he added, no matter which model of funding is chosen, it involves members of the public putting their hand in their pocket “and it’s going to be a lot more palatable for people if they know the organisation has gotten its act together”.

Mr Harris said he had an open mind about future funding but said public service broadcasting does have to be paid for and it is particularly important in an era of disinformation.

Minister Harris said he was genuinely looking forward to a moment where a report paving a way forward for RTÉ is released, rather than a report outlining everything that went wrong.

“We will need to hear very clearly from the management and the board how they intend to implement recommendations, not just lament about the past,” he said.

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