RTÉ shambles ‘has a way to go yet’

If Catherine Martin expected easy questioning from Coalition TDs over her handling of Siún Ní Raghallaigh, she was wrong

Miriam Lord closes her column this morning on the extraordinary grilling of Minister for Media Catherine Martin last night over the latest storm to engulf RTÉ by writing: “This saga has a way to go yet.

It wasn’t necessarily known at the time but this observation would have been just as true eight months ago when controversy first arose.

With further committee meetings expected, more reports due to be published and a new chairperson to be appointed, not to mention a decision on the thorny subject of how RTÉ will be funded into the future, it remains true now.

During a three hour Committee on Media hearing on Tuesday evening, Ms Martin was accused of throwing former RTÉ chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh under a bus with her Prime Time interview last Thursday when the Minister pointedly failed to express confidence in her.


Lord writes there was highly charged language as Ms Martin faced a mildly hostile jury of her peers, and several senators too. It was like the denouement of a whodunnit in Committee Room 2.

“If she expected those inquisitors from Government parties – her Cabinet colleagues are resoundingly backing her – to go easy on her, she was wrong.”

The biggest revelation came when Ms Martin told the committee that Ms Ní Raghallaigh had warned she could resign before that crucial Prime Time appearance by the Minister.

Jack Horgan-Jones and Mark Hilliard report how the committee was also told that Ms Ní Raghallaigh had resisted attempts to arrange a meeting to discuss Ms Martin’s disappointment in her.

Hilliard has compiled a timeline of Ms Martin’s account of the events leading up to Ms Ní Raghallaigh’s departure.

Ms Martin also on Tuesday repeated instances of Ms Ní Raghallaigh giving her inaccurate information about the board’s involvement in signing-off on an exit package for 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.

In his analysis, Horgan-Jones writes that Ms Martin stuck to her position during the committee hearing.

In his analysis Current Affairs Editor Arthur Beesley says Ms Martin’s committee appearance shows the Minister’s confidence in Ms Ní Raghallaigh was lost before the Prime Time interview.

Ms Ní Raghallaigh will have an opportunity to tell her side of the story, if she wishes, with the Committee on Media set to extend an invitation to her to appear.

This saga is very much not over yet.

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TDs have an opportunity to raise ‘Topical Issues’ from 9.10am.

A Bill relating to the protection of employees and trade union subscriptions proposed by Independent TD Joan Collins will be debated from 9.58am.

Leaders’ Questions is at noon followed by questions on policy or legislation and Taoiseach’s Questions.

More than six hours of Government Business in the afternoon begins with statements on RTÉ and where Minister for Media Catherine Martin is expected to again address the circumstances of the resignation of the national broadcaster’s chairwoman Siún Ní Raghallaigh starting at 2.24pm.

Other Government business includes a Bill on redundancies and the legislation on creating the office of a directly elected Mayor of Limerick.

The weekly Dáil votes are at 8.32pm.

The Committee on Social Protection meets from 9.30am to examine energy poverty looking specifically at the retrofitting of homes and the fuel allowance. The politicians will hear form the Irish Cancer Society and Friends of the Earth as well as representatives from the departments of social protection and housing.

Also at 9.30am the Committee on Enterprise will quiz Digital Services Commissioner John Evans on the operation and resourcing of Coimisiún na Meán (Media Commission).

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due before the Committee on Finance, Publica Expenditure and Reform and Taoiseach at 1pm to outline estimated spending by his department in 2024.

Minister of State Jack Chambers will attend the Committee on Transport for consideration of the Road Traffic Bill 2024 which is aimed at reducing speed limits and making changes to the penalty points system at 1.30pm.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is due to go back before the Committee on Housing which is considering the Planning and Development Bill 2023 from 2pm.

The Committee on Budgetary Oversight will hear from representatives of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council on its report on what climate change means for Ireland’s public finances.

The full Dáil, Seanad and Committee schedules.

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