PAC to get advice on extent of its powers as it seeks answers in RTÉ pay saga

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy says committee wants to be ‘sure of just exactly what we can and can’t compel’

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) expects to receive legal advice this week on compelling people and documents arising from its investigation into the RTÉ payments saga, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has said.

Speaking at Leinster House on Tuesday morning, Ms Murphy, who is a PAC member, said the committee was awaiting advice from the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers (OPLA) on the extent of its powers to compel.

Ms Murphy said the advice would focus on “what are the scenarios where we can compel both individuals and documents” and that the committee wanted to be “sure of just exactly what we can and can’t compel”.

The PAC chair, Brian Stanley, hit out last week after RTÉ said it could not release information relating to their employment and exits from the broadcaster of chief financial officer Breda O’Keeffe and former commercial director Geraldine O’Leary that the committee had sought.


Ms O’Keeffe has previously appeared before the Oireachtas media committee, while Ms O’Leary appeared before both PAC and the media committee before she retired from the broadcaster over the summer.

RTÉ said it was legally and contractually precluded from releasing these details, leading to a standoff with the PAC as the broadcaster insists it is complying with the committee’s requests and its legal obligations.

Ms Murphy said she hoped that people would turn up when invited. The committee has also sought a minute of a crucial call between former RTÉ director general Dee Forbes and agent Noel Kelly on May 7th, 2020, during which Ms Forbes is said by RTÉ to have agreed to underwrite payments to former star presenter Ryan Tubridy, which were not disclosed as part of his published fee.

Last week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said RTÉ should provide all the information it can but he could understand why it wouldn’t if it was legally barred from doing so.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times