RTÉ chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh had threatened to quit and resisted meeting before Catherine Martin Prime Time interview

Oireachtas media committee will now extend invitation to Ní Raghallaigh to appear before it

Siún Ní Raghallaigh warned she could resign before a crucial appearance by Minister for Media Catherine Martin on RTÉ Prime Time last week, according to the Minister, and resisted attempts to arrange a meeting to discuss Ms Martin’s disappointment in her.

During a meeting of the Oireachtas media committee, Ms Martin revealed a day of frantic exchanges between her officials and former RTÉ chair Ms Ní Raghallaigh in the run-in to the Minister’s appearance on Prime Time last Thursday evening, after which the chair resigned.

Following an appearance that shed light on a dramatic breakdown in relations last week, the committee has now decided to extend an invitation to the former chair of RTÉ to appear before it, as the fallout over Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s resignation continues to rock the Government and the broadcaster.

Ms Martin outlined on Tuesday evening repeated instances of Ms Ní Raghallaigh giving her inaccurate information about the board’s involvement in signing off on an exit package for the former chief financial officer Richard Collins, as well as having apologised for previously failing to tell the Minister she had sought the resignation of former RTÉ director general Dee Forbes.


She told the committee that she needed to rely on accurate information from the chair, and outlined that having been told last Thursday of her intention to write to Ms Ní Raghallaigh and express her disappointment about being given inaccurate information during the week, the former RTÉ chair “expressed her unhappiness” about the prospect of receiving the letter.

“The former chair was not willing to receive a letter,” she said, referencing a discussion with officials. “It’s quite problematic from a confidence point of view if the chair is not willing to receive a letter.”

She told Ms Martin’s officials that this would reflect a lack of confidence and she would have to consider her position as chair, Ms Martin said. Later in the afternoon, Ms Martin said that Ms Ní Raghallaigh told her officials that she was “not happy” about the prospect of being called to another meeting on the following morning, as had been suggested.

Ms Martin, who said she did not believe the former chair acted intentionally in misinforming her, proceeded with the Prime Time interview, and insisted at the committee that she had no option but to go ahead with it. She said that before going on air, she believed a story about the day’s events was about to break, and that her advisers had told RTÉ that she would be willing to discuss it on air.

Ms Martin said she was trying to avoid expressing no confidence in the RTÉ chair on air and that she hoped the meeting that she had invited Ms Ní Raghallaigh to on Friday morning would proceed, and that she hoped Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s talk of resigning would prove to be “just a rash comment”.

“I was remaining hopeful that was just something that was said in the heat of the moment,” Ms Martin told the committee.

The Minister for Media said that she hoped to appoint a full-time replacement RTÉ chair within the week and that there are active consultations about the appointment.

The former Director General of the Department of Arts and Media, Katherine Licken, is also to be invited before the committee. Ms Licken received a phone call in October from Ms Ní Raghallaigh which the RTÉ board has said communicated the board sign-off for the deal.

Ms Martin in effect disputed this on Tuesday, saying that the former RTÉ chair last week told officials she “imagined” she would have outlined the board’s involvement

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Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

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

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times