Committee Hears RTÉ Paid For Global Sports Events With Barter Funds In Latest Shock

Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee - Oireachtas TV

RTÉ‘s controversial barter account was used to pay €275,000 towards tickets and travel for clients for prestigious sporting events four years ago it emerged as part of a compelling day of footage and fare from the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee who interrogated RTÉ executive board members for a second time after yesterday’s media committte questioning.

In 2019, €111,000 was spent for travel and hotels to bring clients to the Rugby World Cup; 10-year IRFU tickets cost €138,000; while the Champions League final in 2019 featuring Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid, costing €26,000.

The expenditure was described as RTÉ chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh as “outrageous”.

The former chair of the RTÉ board Moya Doherty, said it was “staggering and absolutely shocking” that the barter fund was not reported to the RTÉ board.

“It raises the bigger issue of the tension between commercial and public service.”

Meanwhile, interim director general Adrian Lynch said today that the looming controversy around payments may well have influenced Ryan Tubridy’s decision to quit The Late Late Show.

When the storm clouds emerged last week, Ryan Tubridy denied that his decision to step down from the Late Late Show had anything to do with the scandal.

Meanwhile, incoming director general of RTÉ Kevin Bakhurst will “reconstitute” the executive board of RTÉ according to the interim Director-General Adrian Lynch.

In a statement to the Public Accounts Committee, Mr Lynch said said they’d “failed to act as a collective and failed to ensure good governance” in relation to the Tubridy payments, ”For this serious breach of trust with the public, we apologise.”

Chairperson Siún Ní Raghallaigh described the secret payments as an “act designed to deceive”.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh also said she intended to publish RTÉ’s top 100 earners as soon as was practically possible.

By way of an extraordinary episode the Chief Financial Officer Richard Collins after initially refusing to say, and in the face of fury from TDs bequeathed to admit his salary albeit in a rather cryptic form “I believe my salary is around €200,000 plus a car allowance of €25,000 but it’s in and around that.”

The PAC Chairman Brian Stanley concluded the meeting by outlining to the representatives the list of documents that the committee has asked for throughout the course of the afternoon – which includes a copy of Ryan Tubridy’s previous five-year contract and a copy of the arrangement with the barter company.