Tubridy in talks to return to RTÉ on salary ‘significantly less’ than €200,000

Latest Grant Thornton report into broadcaster’s pay heavily critical of ‘several failures’ by State broadcaster

Ryan Tubridy is trying to bridge a gap with RTÉ over his return to the airwaves after an investigation found the presenter and his agent Noel Kelly had no role in misleading statements that claimed he was on a salary less than €500,000 between 2017 and 2019.

After two months of turmoil in the national broadcaster, the latest Grant Thornton report into Mr Tubridy’s pay was heavily critical of “several failures” by RTÉ as his declared earnings were cut by a total of €120,000 in a 2021 statement on top presenter pay.

The accountants suggested a “very plausible explanation” for misleading statements was to suggest Tubridy was paid less than €500,000 even though he received more.

RTÉ chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh said the report “paints a picture of poor internal communication and weak processes”, adding that the board will discuss the findings with auditors Deloitte, whose role came into focus in the investigation.


Minister for Media Catherine Martin expressed anxiety about “deeply concerning” lapses in governance and the “failure of proper internal controls and processes within RTÉ”.

As Mr Tubridy’s talks with RTÉ enter the most critical phase, he has indicated his willingness to accept a salary “significantly less” than €200,000 to host his one-hour weekday radio show, according to an informed source. His radio salary before he was taken off air in June is estimated to have been about €220,000.

He has also signalled he will return the €150,000 he received as part of an abortive deal with Late Late Show sponsor Renault to make personal appearances. RTÉ ended up paying the money via a UK “barter account” when the motor company halted the arrangement.

The affair has soured relations between Mr Tubridy and RTÉ, which is making a claim for special Government funding in the October budget after losing millions of euro in licence fee income since the controversy erupted in June.

Despite deep disquiet over the fallout from the secret Renault deal, the new Grant Thornton report is perceived to have boosted Mr Tubridy’s bid to return by absolving him of responsibility for the 2017-2019 declarations.

Such findings contrast with earlier RTÉ board statements which suggested he received hidden payments in that period.

There was no apology to Mr Tubridy on Wednesday when RTÉ's board issued a statement on the Grant Thornton paper.

Still, the board acknowledged the accountants’ findings about the presenter and Mr Kelly’s company: “The report makes clear that neither Mr Tubridy nor NK Management had any involvement in the adjustments for the period 2017-2019.”

Such findings are seen by Mr Tubridy and certain RTÉ figures to open the door for him to resume his radio show. In a statement, Mr Tubridy said: “I am committed to re-establishing the confidence and trust of my colleagues and listeners, and I hope that any fair assessment of the findings of today’s report will help in this regard.”

However, reservations have been expressed at very high levels in RTÉ about his prospective return. Some individuals are concerned that efforts to overcome deep crisis would be hampered if the person most closely associated with the debacle is back on the air.

In a further sign of lingering tension, RTÉ called on Mr Tubridy to clarify the assertion in his statement that his “actual income from RTÉ in 2020 and 2021 matches what was originally published as my earnings for those years”.

This led to annoyance within RTÉ because it has already restated the money Mr Tubridy received then in light of barter account payments linked to the Renault deal. “Regarding Ryan Tubridy’s comments in his statement today, RTÉ is currently seeking clarification as to their meaning,” said the national broadcaster.

Mr Tubridy’s statement is understood to be grounded in data set out by Grant Thornton about the pay he received via RTÉ's payroll system.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times