RTÉ pay scandal: Who knew what and when?

Controversy engulfing national broadcaster brewing since issues around financial transactions identified in March

As the controversy over revelations, RTÉ paid former Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy €345,000 more than it publicly declared over recent years deepens, questions turn to who knew what and when?

March 2023:

During a routine audit of RTÉ's accounts for the previous year, an issue emerged over payments made to Mr Tubridy in late March.

Within days of these first red flags being raised, accountancy firm Grant Thornton was commissioned by RTÉ board’s audit and risk committee to carry out a full investigation.


The initial issue related to payments linked to a deal between Mr Tubridy and Renault Ireland. Under the deal, which was underwritten by RTÉ, Mr Tubridy would be paid €75,000 in exchange for a number of appearances.

When Renault pulled out of the deal after a year, RTÉ were left to cover the payments for the next two years, which totalled €150,000. The payments were made last year to Mr Tubridy, through his agent NK Management, by RTÉ through a “barter account” used to trade goods and services.

RTÉ informed Minister for Media Catherine Martin about a potential issue in March, but not that it related to payments to a presenter.

She was advised a “fact finding” exercise had been commissioned “in response to a payment queried by the auditors”, said a spokesman for the Minister.

Earlier that month Mr Tubridy had announced he would be stepping down as host of the Late Late Show, after 14 years in the role.

Friday June 16th:

At the end of last week, RTÉ board’s audit and risk committee received the final report from Grant Thornton.

In total between 2017 and the start of this year, the broadcaster had paid Mr Tubridy €345,000 more than it had publicly disclosed in annual reports on top presenters’ pay.

Monday June 19th:

At the start of this week the RTÉ board met to discuss the findings of the Grant Thornton report.

The board sought an internal review into the accuracy of public declarations of the annual pay of its nine other highest-paid presenters.

While internal checks found no wider issues, Grant Thornton has been asked to review presenters’ contracts and validate the initial review.

Tuesday June 20th:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan were briefed about the revelations on Tuesday, after the chair of RTÉ's board Siún Ní Raghallaigh informed Ms Martin.

Wednesday June 21st:

Although it did not disclose the development until Friday, RTÉ suspended director general Dee Forbes on Wednesday, several weeks before her seven-year term is due to finish next month.

Thursday June 22nd:

On Thursday morning rumours were circulating in newsrooms of a significant story expected to break that day related to RTÉ and Mr Tubridy.

Taking questions from journalists at an event in Temple Bar at midday, Ms Martin said she was aware of a “potential issue”, but said it would be “inappropriate” to comment before a statement from RTÉ.

By about 1pm media reports had begun to emerge that RTÉ was due to shortly release a statement concerning “financial and governance” matters.

Several minutes after 3pm the board of RTÉ released a lengthy statement, detailing the findings of the reviews into its payments to Mr Tubridy.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh said the RTÉ board had not previously been aware of the extra payments, before the issues being identified in March.

In a statement, Mr Tubridy said the issue was a “matter for RTÉ” and he had no role in the broadcaster’s internal accounting or public declarations of presenters’ pay.

Friday June 23rd:

Comedian Oliver Callan presented Mr Tubridy’s radio show on Friday morning, with RTÉ confirming he would not return to the air next week either.

Moya Doherty, the previous chairwoman of RTÉ's board whose term ended last November, clarified that at no point did she or other members of the board know about the extra payments.

A member of RTÉ's senior management team, Adrian Lynch, who has stepped up to the role of deputy director general following the suspension of Ms Forbes, told RTÉ's Six One News in an interview that he found out about the controversy last Monday and received the Grant Thornton report on Wednesday.

In a second statement on Friday evening, Mr Tubridy apologised “unreservedly” for not asking questions about the fact his pay was higher than disclosed publicly by RTÉ. The presenter said he looked forward to returning to his weekly radio show “as soon as possible”.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times