Last-minute row threatens Ryan Tubridy deal to return to


Presenter is being asked to clarify just what he meant in his contentious riposte to report

The former Late Late Show host and RTÉ were embroiled in a row last night over comments Tubridy made following the publication of the Grant Thornton report into payments made to him between 2017 and 2019.

In a statement, he welcomed the report, which he said showed he had no involvement in RTÉ adjusting publicly released earnings for him during this period.

However, he added: “It is also clear that my actual income from RTÉ in 2020 and 2021 matches what was originally published as my earnings for those years, and RTÉ has not yet published its top-10 earner details for 2022.”

In response, RTÉ said: “Regarding Ryan Tubridy’s comments in his statement today, RTÉ is currently seeking clarification as to their meaning.

“For clarity, RTÉ published details of Ryan Tubridy’s earnings for 2022 in the RTÉ board statement of June 22.”

The figures published in June showed Tubridy was paid €466,250 in 2020 when in fact he was paid an additional €56,250. The figure published for 2021 was €440,000, which excluded the €75,000 he received, linked to his commercial arrangement with Renault.

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A spokesperson for Tubridy said he stands over the original statement.

It is understood Tubridy’s comments relate to a section of the Grant Thornton report that shows RTÉ’s payroll system recorded the same payment amount for the presenter as those published in 2020 and 2021.

Tubridy’s team believe this shows he had not received the additional income linked to the Renault deal during those years, and the money was paid at a later date instead.

The Grant Thornton report said “no issues were identified” when comparing the original published payments to Tubridy with those logged in RTÉ’s payroll system.

Tubridy’s team also have concerns over RTÉ publishing readjusted earnings for the presenter in 2022 when payments were not published for him or any other of the top-10 highest-paid broadcasters in that period.

The payments were the subject of weeks of Oireachtas committee hearings and led to widespread public anger, resulting in thousands of RTÉ viewers refusing to pay their TV licence fee.

Tubridy is said to be willing to pay back about €150,000 he received from a commercial deal RTÉ arranged with Renault as part of his most recent contract.

He is also open to taking a significant pay cut, which could see him earn €200,000 a year to present a radio show.

The new contract, which is still being negotiated, would see Tubridy return to the airwaves later this year.

RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst has said he wants to come to a conclusion on the talks within the next two weeks.

Following the publication of the Grant Thornton review of his pay between 2017 and 2019, Tubridy reaffirmed his commitment to publish any future contracts with RTÉ.

The Grant Thornton report found Tubridy was unaware of the decision to adjust his salary when it was publicised by RTÉ for the years 2017 to 2019.

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However, it said the decision was taken by RTÉ management to adjust the published figures to ensure Tubridy’s payments appeared to be under €500,000 a year during that period.

The report highlighted poor corporate governance, including significant deficiencies in internal management controls, failures in the finance function and a lack of communication from the RTÉ executive with the board.

The report revealed Tubridy was entitled to a €120,000 exit payment as part of a five-year contract which ended in 2020.

During negotiations on a new contract, RTÉ said they could not pay the exit payment and it was suggested he “under-delivered” on the terms of the agreement for the payment.

However, the Grant Thornton report found he was entitled to the payment, but ultimately decided to waive it.

This payment was then taken off his published pay for the previous years, which resulted in it being below €500,000 – even though he was being paid in excess of that amount.

Siún Ní Raghallaigh, chair of the RTÉ board, said the audit of payments to Tubridy “paints a picture of poor internal communication and weak processes”.

On the matter of Tubridy’s return to RTÉ, Ms Ní Raghallaigh said yesterday it appeared staff were divided.

Asked on RTÉ Radio 1 if she had any concerns that staff may not broadly support Tubridy’s return, she said: “Well, if that’s the case, from what I can gather – and I’m looking at it the same as everybody else – it seems to be almost a 50-50 split of people’s opinions on this, and really, we have to let things run their course.”

She said Tubridy’s future at the broadcaster is ultimately a decision for the director general and a decision she would like to see made “sooner rather than later”.

Meanwhile, further Oireachtas committee showdowns loom, as the entire RTÉ board will be invited to appear before the Oireachtas Media Committee before the Dáil summer break ends.

Committee chair Niamh Smyth will seek to invite the rest of the RTÉ board before the media committee – TDs have already heard from current chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh and former chair Moya Doherty.

The chair of the powerful Public Accounts Committee has said former director general Dee Forbes, former finance boss Breda O’Keeffe, current chief financial officer Richard Collins, director of content Jim Jennings and the auditor from Deloitte overseeing RTÉ accounts also need to come in.

Because TDs are currently on their summer break, committee members will have to hold a virtual meeting to agree to invite the board.

The board will then have 14 days to prepare for any Oireachtas hearing.

“The overarching theme in all of this has been a lack of transparency with the board, a lack of communication with the board, no working relationship between the RTÉ executive and the board,” Ms Smyth said.

She added that Ms Ní Raghallaigh was only recently appointed as chair, and the issues that led to the payments controversy took place before she took over.

“I would be encouraging the board to be given the opportunity to come before the committee collectively,” she said.

Members of the RTÉ board include journalist Ian Kehoe; theatre director Aideen Howard; RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst; Dr PJ Matthews of UCD; Anne O’Leary of the audit and risk committee; RTÉ journalist Robert Shortt; tech entrepreneur Connor Murphy; barrister Susan Ahern; Web Summit co-founder Daire Hickey; producer David Harvey; and MIT lecturer Jonathan Ruane.

“We actually need to hear from the board that have been there throughout all of this,” Ms Smyth said. “Ian Kehoe, I understand, is the deputy chair of the board of RTÉ and he hasn’t had an opportunity to come before us and I think that would be most useful.”

Meanwhile, the chair of the powerful PAC, Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, said Ms Forbes, Ms O’Keeffe, Mr Collins, Mr Jennings and the auditor from Deloitte who worked on RTÉ’s accounts need to appear before TDs.

“As the Grant Thornton auditor concludes, ‘in my opinion, the logic of the adjustments was not sound’. This should never have happened,” Mr Stanley said.

“Where was director general Dee Forbes during this? What was the role of director of content Jim Jennings during this negotiation? Why did Deloitte not put a halt to this?”

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