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RTÉ needs to account for exit packages for senior execs – Dillon

20th February 2024 - Alan Dillon, TD

RTÉ’s Director General must explain why rules were routinely ignored and broken at the broadcaster with regard to exit packages, rather than wrongly claiming he is being asked to break the law by divulging this information, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Chairman Alan Dillon said the public still awaits a full explanation and account for secret exit payments made at RTÉ, while Director General Kevin Bakhurst this week claimed he is “actually being asked by elected officials to break the law.”

“Can Mr. Bakhurst show me where elected officials asked him to break the law?,” Deputy Dillon asked.

“Only RTÉ are privy to what occurred with exit packages and if there were non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality clauses. Elected representatives don’t have any knowledge of this and the public certainly doesn’t, despite this saga going on since last July.

“If we want to talk about law and rules, I am fully in favour of it.

“RTÉ adopted an á la carte approach to individuals leaving the organisation and the packages they received.

“Some executives received massive sums of money, which were kept entirely secret.  We only found out in the last seven days about two such payments and are still waiting for full details about these and all other exit deals since 2016.

“In the case of the former Chief Financial Officer, a letter wrongly declared the payment had been approved by the executive board, when in reality, they were entirely in the dark.

“An investigation by legal firm McCann FitzGerald found that the terms of the 2017 voluntary exit programme regarding the package offered to the former Chief Financial Officer ‘were not complied with’.

“The investigation said the failure to follow the rules of the scheme rests with RTÉ and it is ‘a matter for the Revenue Commissioners to decide’ if the broadcaster shouldn’t have applied the tax exemption.

“We had the disastrous €2.3m Toy Show the Musical flop, which wasn’t challenged by the executive board or the RTÉ audit and risk committee – whose job it was to flag such dangers.

“Last July as the new Director General began his job, Former Director of Strategy Rory Coveney said he gave Mr. Bakhurst his ‘resignation’. We learnt this week that Mr. Coveney didn’t resign.

“There was an agreement made – potentially costing €200,000, which the taxpayer is on the hook for.

“We want to see reform and transparency at RTÉ and want Mr. Bakhurst to drive this.

“Obfuscation and the drip feed of information gets us nowhere. Let’s get to the truth here and only RTÉ and Mr. Bakhurst can provide this,” Deputy Dillon said.

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