Catherine Martin faces grilling after tumultuous week

Minister’s position does not appear in immediate danger but she is now front and centre of the drama

Good morning. At 7pm this evening Catherine Martin will appear before TDs and Senators at an Oireachtas committee to be grilled on what has been the perhaps the most tumultuous week of her tenure as Minister for Media.

Just as it seemed that the rolling controversies facing the national broadcaster over the last eight months could be winding down, Martin’s Prime Time intervention last Thursday has placed her front and centre of the drama.

It has ramped up pressure on the Minister in a way that has not previously happened during the RTÉ saga.

There does not appear to be any immediate danger to her own position with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and other senior Coalition figures fully backing Martin.


But she can expect some intense questioning by the Committee on Media which wants to examine the circumstances around RTÉ chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation in the wake of Martin’s appearance on Prime Time.

As Harry McGee reports, TDs and Senators are set explore the extent of the knowledge of a change of policy at the broadcaster, which saw the remuneration committee of the main board assume responsibility for signing off on severance packages.

Ní Raghallaigh resigned after Martin refused to express confidence in her and the Minister expressed her disappointment that she had been misinformed about exit packages for RTÉ executives.

There have been divergences in the accounts of who knew about the changes between RTÉ and Ní Raghallaigh on the one hand, and the department on the other.

There will be full coverage of the committee hearing on this evening.

Expect the TDs and Senators on the committee to seek to get into the nitty gritty of the questions that always arise during such episodes – who knew what, and when?

Arthur Beesley has some more suggested questions for the committee and he discusses the latest twists in the storm around RTÉ with Sorcha Pollak on the In The News podcast.

Martin looks set to face the committee as the chairperson role at RTÉ remains vacant.

On Monday, the Taoiseach said the Government intended to appoint a new chair as soon as possible saying “certainly if we can do it next week”.

Harry McGee looks at who could be possible candidates for the job.

In other coverage, Mark Hilliard has a Q&A on what it would mean if RTÉ was placed under the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General, as is expected to be recommended by a forthcoming report by the Public Accounts Committee.

In an analysis in our business section Laura Slattery writes that everybody involved in the “RTÉ omni-crisis” has “lost the plot”.

And in opinion, Fintan O’Toole writes that there is one clear way forward in the crisis at RTÉ. Lamenting the broadcasting of years-old US and British shows to chase commercial revenue he suggests “Catherine Martin has the opportunity to save her own political career and to do something big for Irish democracy.

“Fund RTÉ from the exchequer as a public service and instruct it to serve the nation and only the nation.”

Best reads

In our lead story in print, Daniel McLaughlin continues his excellent reporting from Ukraine with an interview with foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba. The diplomat has urged compatriots abroad to think about going home to help the war effort, as Kyiv seeks to draft fresh troops into its army and strengthen an economy ravaged by two years of all-out war with Russia. Kuleba also thanked Ireland for giving refuge to more than 100,000 Ukrainians and said his country would “always remember this overwhelming Irish solidarity”.

Elsewhere, Conor Pope reports that home alarm companies were targeted in dawn raids by the competition watchdog and gardaí.

Conor Lally has a story outlining how gardaí have begun reviewing testing equipment options for new roadside checks planned to take some powerful e-bikes and e-scooters off the roads. The plan is to use such equipment to identify those bikes and scooters which do not comply with legislation, including maximum power and speed attainable based on the power they can generate.

Harry McGee looks ahead to the European elections in a piece attempting to predict the unpredictable.

President Michael D Higgins has appealed to countries that have withdrawn aid from Unrwa, the United Nations agency that provides support to Palestinian refugees, to “think again” and provide “desperately needed support” to prevent “catastrophe” in Gaza. Colm Keena reports.


Cabinet meets this morning. The review of school transport, the appointment of a special advocate for the survivors of Magdalene laundries and mother and baby homes and an update on insurance reforms are among the items on the agenda. You can find our tee-up story here.


Dáil proceedings kick off at 2pm with Leaders’ Questions.

Government business in the afternoon (3.50pm onwards) is statements on recent arson attacks on planned refugee centres or buildings wrongly believed to be earmarked for accommodation for asylum seekers.

Legislation on mental health proposed by Sinn Féin will be debated from 7.22pm.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris will take parliamentary questions from 9.24pm.

TDs have an opportunity to raise Topical Issues from 10.54pm.

The Dáil is due to adjourn at 11.42pm.


The Seanad will consider the legislation to bring in “safe access zones” near hospitals and clinics offering abortion services from 3.45pm.

The Employment Permits Bill 2022 will be debated from 6pm.


Minister for Media Catherine Martin is due before the Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media to be grilled on the latest developments in the long-running RTÉ saga from 7pm.

The same committee will publish their report on Inclusion in Sport at noon.

The Committee on Justice will publish its report on the pre-legislative scrutiny it carried out on the general scheme (outline) of the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) (Amendment) Bill 2023 – the draft legislation to allow gardaí to use facial recognition technology at 4pm. The committee will publish a report on its engagements on policing matters at the same time.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is due to go before the Committee on Housing which is considering the Planning and Development Bill 2023 from 6.15pm.

Click for the full Dáil, Seanad and Committee schedules.

Sign up for Politics push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone