Media Minister Catherine Martin has serious questions to answer about her own handling of the crisis in RTÉ, according to Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns.

“The Minister is claiming she was kept in the dark about exit packages agreed with senior RTÉ executives last year. If this is the case, then it is clear the Minister didn’t ask the right questions when these resignations were announced.

“When senior executives left RTÉ, the Minister apparently expressed no curiosity about the deals that underpinned these departures. This lack of curiosity is extremely troubling, given the Minister now feels she was led astray about the nature of these resignations.

“There is a further point that the Minister must now urgently clarify. In her resignation statement, the former Chair of the RTE board, Siún Ní Raghallaigh, said she informed the Department of the process involved in the resignation of Richard Collins the day after he left the organisation.

“Are we to understand from this that the Department was, in fact, aware that there had been an exit package and that it had been approved by the Chair? If so, was the Minister informed and, if not, why not?

“The Minister, in my view, showed a lamentable lack of judgment in agreeing to proceed with a Prime Time interview last night in circumstances where serious issues had arisen about the Chair of the RTÉ board. Instead of discussing those issues with the Chair of RTÉ at the first available opportunity, she preferred to effectively fire her live on air on RTÉ’s flagship current affairs programme.

“The net result of this is that an already crisis-engulfed broadcaster has been thrown into further turmoil. Given the brutal treatment of Ms Ní Raghallaigh by the Minister, and this escalating crisis, it is unlikely that successor candidates will be lining up to take on the job that is now vacant.

“RTÉ cannot be left rudderless at a time when the organisation is in such turmoil. A large degree of that turmoil can be ascribed to the hands-off approach and chronic indecision of a Minister who has not kept on top of this ongoing crisis. The Minister has serious questions to answer about her handling of this debacle.”

February 23, 2024

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